Governor signs Ramos California Indian Education Act aimed at improving classroom instruction of Native American history and culture

AB 1703 and four other Ramos tribal bills signed on California Native American Day

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO—Governor Gavin Newsom approved a bill encouraging local schools to create task forces of area educators and tribal representatives to share local tribal history and culture, discuss issues of mutual concern and develop Native American curriculum and classroom materials. The measure, AB 1703, the California Indian Education Act, introduced by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) was part of a five-bill tribal package the lawmaker sent to Newsom and which he has approved.

Newsom stated in his release announcing approval of the measures, ““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.”

“I’m appreciative that the governor signed this measure which begins to let Native Americans share their history and culture in the classroom. It is especially meaningful that he gave AB 1703 his thumbs up on California Native American Day, Ramos said. “It’s critical that we teach all students about the diversity of California’s more than 100 tribes. Our state’s tribes each have different languages, customs, culture, and history. Without this interaction, we cannot develop the more complete and high quality curriculum we seek, and we will continue to see incidents like that involving the Riverside math teacher. AB 1703 also provides teachers with more instructional tools and forges understanding among students and between local tribal families and their children’s campuses.”

Ramos noted that presenters at an October 2021 informational hearing by the Select Committee on Native American Affairs and the Education Committee also stressed the importance for local educators to collaborate with their tribes to bring Native American history and culture into the classroom.

AB 1703 calls for curriculum and instructional materials developed by the California Indian Education Task Forces to be shared with the California Department of Education so as to assist in sharing that knowledge statewide.

The education department is one of three sponsors of the bill, along with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

Johnny Hernández Jr, vice chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and chair of that tribe’s education board said, I want to thank the Governor and the California legislature for supporting this historic legislation to improve the way California’s children are taught about Native American history, culture, and government. I encourage school districts to invite their local tribes to begin the next steps to creating taskforces that will create a better educational future for our state.” San Manuel is a sponsor of the bill.

“It is exciting to see that in my lifetime tribes across the state can collaborate with school districts to create a positive educational experience for Native students like me,” Gauge Hernandez, Chair of the San Manuel Tribal Youth Committee added. “Native students like me exist and deserve to have factual accounts of Native American history from our respective regions incorporated in our textbooks and our culture recognized and honored in the classroom.’

In addition to encouraging local engagement between tribes and schools, AB 1703 would require that local districts identify the extent of the achievement gap between Native American students and their non-Native peers and come up with strategies to close them. These findings would be submitted to the Assembly and Senate Education committees.

Joseph Williams, Director of Organizing for the California Native Vote Project, reiterated the organization’s strong support for the legislation. “California Native Vote Project has been proud to support AB 1703, the California Indian Education Act by Assemblymember James Ramos since January. We thank Governor Gavin Newsom for signing this important legislation into law and affirming his commitment to Truth and Healing.” Williams, already working with schools around the state observed, “AB 1703 will reinforce the work we are doing in San Juan Unified, Riverside Unified, and LA Unified on teaching local tribal curriculum, the truth on genocide and missions, and creating support systems for American Indian and Alaska Native students across California to thrive. We look forward to implementing this important legislation with local districts in California.”

Legislative co-authors include Assemblymembers Lisa Calderon (D-Whittier), Steve Bennett (D-Ventura), Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Cristina Garcia Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Mike Gipson (D-Carson); Alex Lee (D-San Jose); Devon Mathis (R-Visalia),  Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino); Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) and Senators Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara).

AB 1703 is sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and California Department of Education. Supporters include the California Teachers Association, California Association for Bilingual Education, California Calls, California Charter Schools Association, California Native Vote Project, California State Parent Teacher Association, Californians Together, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, Tachi Yokut Tribe, Tule River Tribe, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Redlands Unified School District and Riverside Unified School District.

Other Ramos tribal bills signed today are:

  • AB 923 which requires state agency leaders to undertake training in properly communicating and interacting with tribes on government-to-government issues that affect them.

 

  • 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 Native Americans in Northern California whose ancestors Hastings had 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.

###

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.