SACRAMENTO—The Assembly Judiciary Committee today approved a measure on a bipartisan 10-0 vote to allow state and local court employees to receive a paid holiday in celebration of California Native American Day.
“I am appreciative that the Judicial Council brought this forward,” Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) said. “For more than 20 years, I have worked to help create a day that recognizes California’s First People and their history,” Ramos stated. "Our state has the greatest number of Native Americans residing within its boundaries, and it is fitting that we begin to expand our commemoration of this holiday.”
“The Judicial Council of California and its chair, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, are committed to providing equal access and fairness in our justice system,” said Judge Marla O. Anderson, chair of the Judicial Council’s Legislation Committee. “By recognizing the importance of Native Americans we not only acknowledge our shortcomings in our state’s past treatment of them, we also celebrate their past and current contributions to our state.”
AB 855 would amend the Code of Civil Procedure to recognize California Native American Day as a judicial holiday to provide proper recognition for Native American people and celebrate their history in the state. It would not create an additional paid holiday for Judicial Council employees, but would exchange Columbus Day for California Native American Day. Court personnel are currently the only state workers receiving the paid October 12 holiday.
Chris Wright, Chairman of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, said, “I thank the Judicial Council and Assemblymember Ramos for bringing this bill forward.” He added, “My hope is that it spurs greater knowledge and respect for California tribal cultures and history. This is a step toward correcting inaccuracies and omissions of our history and highlighting the importance of California Native American tribes in our State’s governmental structures.”
The Judicial Council, which is sponsoring AB 855, voted in January to seek authority to ensure California Native American Day is designated as a judicial holiday. Ramos noted paid judicial holidays are designated in a different code section from holidays recognized by other state agencies. Non-judicial holidays are designated in the Government Code, but court holidays are established in the Code of Civil Procedure.
Chief Judge Abby Abinanti, Yurok Tribe member and co-chair of the Tribal Court-State Court Forum, shared the following response to AB 855: “To be seen, it is a long awaited and welcomed first step by the justice system, the beginning of an effort to be inclusive of our first citizens."
Ramos said he and other people began efforts to honor California Native Americans more than two decades ago when he was an elected San Manuel Tribal Government council member. “We were aided by then-Assemblymember Joe Baca, who successfully introduced legislation in 1998 to create a non-paid official state holiday for California’s First People. Baca went on to introduce similar legislation as a Member of Congress.”
Co-authors are Assemblymembers Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Riverside).
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.