Osiyo (Greetings in Cherokee) and Happy California Native American Day!
September 24, 2021 marks the 54th Annual California Native American Day—a time-honored tradition in the California Native American community to celebrate culture, community, and resiliency. As the first-ever Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs for the California Natural Resources Agency, I am proud to help CNRA realize its mission to “restore, protect and manage the state’s natural, historical and cultural resource.” Through this work, we strive to fulfill the promise of the Governor’s apology to heal relationships with California Native American tribes and work to make Native communities whole.
The first step is to strengthen partnerships with tribal nations on a government-to-government basis. Building these partnerships require early and meaningful consultations, integration of tribal priorities into policies and programs, funding tribal programs, and increasing opportunities for tribal co-management and access to lands and natural resources.
- To illustrate the Agency’s work in pursuing these goals: This year alone, CNRA has engaged over 60 tribes through formal government-to-government consultations and tribal listening sessions and have asked tribal representatives, Native scholars, and Native lead organizations to serve as expert panelists and participate in regional workshops as part of the implementation of Executive Order N-82-20 to enlist California’s vast network of natural and working lands in the fight against climate change. Consulting and partnering with California Native American tribes is essential to ensure tribal priorities and Traditional Knowledges are key components in the strategies and funding to help the state meet its goal of expanding nature-based solutions to address climate change.
- Tribal nations are eligible for most of the grant and funding opportunities provided by the Agency and its departments. Through awarding Proposition 68 funds, the Agency was proud to support the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County’s acquisition of the 1,199-acre Adler Ranch to protect Native American cultural and natural resources. Further investments through other CNRA departments have also supported tribal programming and access efforts, such as funding to the Wiyot Tribe through CNRA’s Museum Grant Program.
- Integration of tribal priorities into the Agency’s initiatives and Governor Newsom’s Statement of Administration Policy on Native American Ancestral Lands has led to increased opportunities for return of ancestral lands and tribal co-management and access to state lands and natural resources. The State Lands Commission conveyed 40 acres of state-owned land within the ancestral lands of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. Further, State Parks has established a relationship with the Yurok Tribe for the co-management of Stone Lagoon Visitor Center and is recommending to the California State Park and Recreation Commission to rename Patrick’s Point State Park back to its original Yurok name of Sue-meg.
CNRA is committed to the work ahead to implement meaningful, reparative change throughout the state. We are continuously exploring opportunities to strengthen partnerships with tribes through early and meaningful consultations, integration of tribal priorities into policies, funding tribal programs, and increasing tribal co-management of and access to lands and natural resources. For all Californians, we must strive to build greater cultural awareness to better understand one and another and educate ourselves of the history and current lived experiences of California Native American tribes.
As Governor Newsom said, “[w]e can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land … since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.” On behalf of the Agency, I look forward to advancing meaningful efforts toward this goal and strengthening our partnerships with California Native American tribes.
Wado (Thank you in Cherokee) and Happy California Native American Day!