By: Wade Crowfoot, Secretary for Natural Resources
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is a federally recognized Indian tribe located on its 879-acre Bishop Paiute Reservation in Inyo County that is dedicated to the well-being of its people. CDFW has worked closely with the tribe in recent decades to conserve fish and wildlife, as well as other natural resources.
On January 21, a first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council and CDFW that will contribute to the sustainability and preservation of culture for the Bishop Paiute people. It authorizes the Tribe to take up to 16 mule deer per year for cultural education purposes, honoring the Tribe’s effort to preserve its culture and well-being through the tradition of hunting deer. In enabling this practice, the MOA recognizes the Tribe’s unique authority to protect wildlife resources within its ancestral territories.
At the signing ceremony of this historic agreement, Tribal Chairman Allen Summers stated that “This is one of the biggest achievements the Tribe has ever accomplished. CDFW is one of the first state agencies to acknowledge the Tribe’s testimony of why this MOA is crucial for the health of our Tribal community. This agreement will ensure that the Tribe’s cultural values will be sustained for future generations.”
Last year, Governor Newsom issued a formal apology to California Native American Peoples for the many instances of violence, mistreatment and neglect that has been inflicted upon Native Americans in California. He also committed to improving collaboration between state government and tribal communities in many areas of public policy, including stewardship of our natural resources. This MOA represents the type of government-to-government partnership that will help us protect cultural heritage and our natural environment. We need more agreements like this.
I am also excited to share good budget news. The Governor has proposed funding California’s Truth and Healing Council in the coming fiscal year, which will provide a venue for California Native Americans to clarify the record – and provide their historical perspective – on the troubled relationship between tribes and the state. The Governor has also called for creating a new leadership position at our Agency, a first-ever Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs. I’m excited about the potential of this position to expand our partnership with tribal communities on the co-management of natural and cultural resources.