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California Marks Native American Day

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Sacramento, CA — Leaders of Native American tribes from across California gathered to celebrate the 50th annual observance of Native American Day at the state Capitol today.

Governor Jerry Brown observed the day by releasing a proclamation declaring September 22, 2017, as Native American Day in the State of California. The theme of this year’s celebration at the Capitol is “Tribal Sovereignty: Sovereigns Working Together.” In his declaration, Brown detailed the embattled history of Native Americans in the state who persevered against persecution to become the largest Native population in the fifty states.  He went on to state, “The success of tribal businesses and the presence today of tribal members in all walks of life stand as testament to the resilience and indomitable spirit of native peoples.”

Tuolumne County is home to the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, click here to find out more about the tribe.

Brown’s entire proclamation can be viewed below:

California has been home to human beings for more than 12,000 years, with the presence of European-Americans representing only a tiny fraction of this time. The first Europeans to arrive in California encountered hundreds of thousands of people organized into hundreds of distinct tribal groups. They flourished in the bountiful hills and valleys of what someday would be called California. 

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. The colonial regimes of Spain and Mexico through disease and enforced servitude cut the indigenous population by more than half. Then the Gold Rush came, and with it, a wave of new diseases and wanton violence which reduced the Native population again, this time by more than 80 percent. The newborn State of California actually paid for the killing of Native peoples and tolerated or encouraged policies of warfare, slavery and relocation that left no tribe intact. In his 1851 address to the Legislature, our first Governor, Peter Burnett, famously stated, “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected.”

In spite of Burnett’s prediction, California today is home to the largest population of Native Americans in the fifty states, including both the rebounding numbers of our native tribes and others drawn to the Golden State by its myriad opportunities. The success of tribal businesses and the presence today of tribal members in all walks of life stand as testament to the resilience and indomitable spirit of native peoples. 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. 

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim September 22, 2017, as “Native American Day” in the State of California.

  • Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians

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