SACRAMENTO—An Assembly constitutional amendment and bill to strengthen and assert current instructional California Native American social science standards and frameworks was introduced today by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland).
The language in ACA 6, the California Indian Education Act, is also included in AB 1554 which Ramos introduced earlier this year and has since amended.
“California’s Native Americans resided in our state long before explorers, missionaries and settlers, yet little is acknowledged or even studied about that past or even present. Native people have been made invisible,” Ramos said. “California history and social science standards were adopted in 1998. The framework which offers guidance on teaching those standards was adopted in 2016. It’s time to review whether those standards and frameworks still have merit and are sufficiently specific for developing what teachers teach in their classrooms.”
Ramos, a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe is a lifelong resident of the San Manuel Indian reservation and is the first California Native American elected to the legislature.
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ Chairman Ken Ramirez said, “We are sponsoring this measure because our Native and non-Native students should have the same opportunity to learn the factual history of California's indigenous peoples," said Chairman Ken Ramirez, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. "Today, more than ever, we must make this investment in education so all of the state's citizens may determine a future as voters and community decision makers."
“Native Americans suffer from the stereotypes, biases and lack of knowledge about our culture and history,” said James Siva, Chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “Part of the remedy is education and understanding how tribal governments developed and their historical interaction with local, state, and federal governments.”
Mary Levi, a Hopi tribal member and fourth grade teacher for more than 30 years, said, “Context is key to understanding. For too many of my fellow Californians, Native American history and atrocities against them stopped centuries ago. Yet, forced sterilization of Native American women occurred as late as the 1970s. Today, health professionals are battling Native American wariness about the COVID-19 vaccine, not knowing that past history have led many in my community to view the medical community with skepticism.”
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Chairman Kenneth Kahn said, “Many Native American organizations, tribes, and individuals have stepped up to offer educational and cultural classes and events for our young people, but students could also benefit from learning in our schools about the history of California’s first people and the interactions between Native people and those groups that created our state’s history—good and bad.”
A bipartisan group of more than 20 lawmakers have signed on to ACA 6 and AB 1554 as co-authors.
Sponsors of the bill are the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Supporters include the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, Barona Band of Mission Indians, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Jamul Indian Village of California, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Wilton Rancheria, Yurok Tribe, Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, California Nations Indian Gaming Association, California Tribal Business Alliance and Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations.
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature.