Celebrating the 51st annual Native American Day at the state Capitol today, leaders of Native American tribes from across California came together to watch and rejoice as Governor Jerry Brown issued a proclamation declaring September 28, 2018, as Native American Day in the State of California.
The theme of this year’s celebration at the Capitol is “Looking Toward the Future: Tribal-State Relationships.”
Yesterday, Governor Brown signed legislation to “allow students to wear traditional tribal regalia or recognized objects of religious or cultural significance at school graduation ceremonies; require the University of California to establish system-wide and campus-level committees to better comply with federal and state laws regarding the handling of Native American human remains and cultural items; and align California law with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian Child Welfare Act regulations.”
In the proclamation Governor Brown recognized that California has been home to human beings for over 12,000 years with European-Americans representing only a tiny fraction of this time. “The contact between these first Californians and successive waves of newcomers over the three succeeding centuries was marked by the utter devastation of the native peoples, their families and entire way of life.”
Brown went on to state how devastating the gold rush was to Native Americans and how in some cases foreigners actually paid for the killing of Natives people. In spite of this, California today is home to the largest population of Native Americans in the fifty states.
California’s first governor, Peter Burnett, stated in his 1851 address to the Legislature, “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected.”
Today, Governor Brown referred to that infamous quote: “If Governor Burnett could not envision a future California that included Native Americans, it is just as impossible for us today to envision one without them.”