Governor signs Ramos bill encouraging state consultation with tribes on state actions directly impacting Native Americans

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Governor signs Ramos bill encouraging state consultation with tribes on state actions directly impacting Native Americans

SACRAMENTO—Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed a measure encouraging the state and its agencies to consult with California tribes and tribal organizations when state actions have a direct impact on the tribes and also requiring state officials to receive training about tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction. AB 923, is one measure in a five-bill tribal package authored by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) and that Newsom has approved. 

In his release announcing his approval of the tribal bills, Newsom said, ““As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities.”

Ramos said, “We have seen recent negative examples of the confusion that too often arise as state and local governments interact with tribes. Questions of jurisdiction, sovereignty and even lack of awareness hinder collaborative relationships and access to governmental assistance. This gap in knowledge is particularly pernicious during emergencies such as wild fires, earthquakes and most recently, during the pandemic.” 

Consultation would be encouraged with tribes before the state approves policies, regulations, guidelines processes, programs, and projects with tribal implications. Tribal implications would include actions that impact one or more tribes or tribal organizations, the government-to-government relationship between the state and federally recognized tribes, or the distribution of power and responsibilities between the state and federally recognized tribes.

Ramos observed, “The state and local governments consult with one another as a matter of course. It is appropriate and necessary that communication with tribal governments also be part of that government-to-government system of formal engagement to ensure equity in services to all of our state’s residents.”

“On behalf of the Morongo Band of Missions Indians, we are grateful to Governor Gavin Newsom for signing AB 923 by Assemblymember James Ramos,” said Charles Martin, tribal chairman. “By signing this measure, Gov. Newsom is continuing his commitment to help rectify the injustices of the past towards the Native American community in California. AB 923 provides the framework, for the first time, for the State of California to formally educate and train state officials on how to engage in government-to-government consultations with federally recognized tribal governments. This truly is historic and we hope that other states follow suit on enacting processes to improve communication and dialogue between our tribal governments and the state of California. We thank Governor Newsom for his dedication to help improve the lives of California’s Native American populations.”

AB 923 is sponsored by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. It is supported by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, Yurok Tribe, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Barona Band of Mission Indians, Yoche DeHe Wintun Nation, Tule River Tribe and the California Tribal Business Alliance.

Newsom also signed other Ramos tribal bills today:

  • AB 1314 that creates a “Feather Alert – similar to those used in cases of abducted children – to enlist public assistance to quickly find Native Americans missing under suspicious circumstances. Native Americans face disproportionate numbers of missing and murdered people in their communities.
  • AB 1703, the California Indian Education Act, that encourages school districts, charter schools and county offices of education to engage with the tribes in their area to provide more accurate and complete instruction about the tribes’ culture and history and share instructional materials with the California Department of Education.
  • AB 1936 which authorizes the University of California Hastings Law College of the Law to remove the name of its founder, Serranus C. Hastings from the school’s name and specifies restorative justice measures for the Yuki and Round Valley people whose ancestors Hastings slaughtered in the 1850s.
  • AB 2022 that requires renaming of California geographic features, landmarks, public lands, waters and structures using the word “squaw” as part of the name by January 1, 2024.

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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. Ramos is chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.