Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Bill to strengthen tribal rights dies + Jewish Caucus unhappy with curriculum + Californians love the coast

Hear Gavin Newsom apologize on California’s behalf to native tribes for slaughters of ancestors

Governor Gavin Newsom apologizes to Native American tribes state violence against their ancestors. Spanish settlers created a mission system that wiped out California Indians. He’s speaking in West Sacramento.
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Governor Gavin Newsom apologizes to Native American tribes state violence against their ancestors. Spanish settlers created a mission system that wiped out California Indians. He’s speaking in West Sacramento.

Happy Thursday, California! We hope you all get some final r&r this weekend before we have a whirlwind rest of session.

Let’s get to it.


Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, introduced Assembly Bill 275 to help California native tribes during reburial discussions with state agencies, including the university systems.

Indigenous peoples often have to fight for the rights to their ancestral remains, Ramos said, and they don’t always win.

“I introduced the bill because of the disrespect for tribal elders during the repatriation process that has taken place in the state of California,” Ramos, who is also the first California Indian elected to the state Assembly, said. “For all the Indian people in the state, we’re taught that (when) those bones are exposed, you do a proper reburial.”

But Ramos released a statement yesterday saying he was killing the legislation.

“AB 275, while well-intentioned, has inadvertently brought to the surface important issues facing Indian Country,” he said. “It is clear these issues warrant time and discussion. Therefore I will not be pursuing the bill.”

What’s the issue?

Because Ramos used a 2001 legal definition for tribe outlined in the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, dozens of state tribes that aren’t recognized by the federal government were left out of the bill.

The 2001 law, which contradicts laws from 2004 and 2014, states a “California Indian Tribe” must be federally recognized. If it’s not, the tribe must be in the petitioning process for recognition or be eligible to apply for the status. Not every tribe is eligible for such recognition.

The Sacramento Bee followed up with some of the tribal leaders frustrated by the limitations and therefore opposed to the bill.

Read more — What is a ‘California Indian tribe’? How a proposed law unearthed a decades-old wound

Angela Mooney D’Arcy, founder and executive director of Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, said the legislation resurfaced “acts of erasure” by the “settler and colonizer.”

Though D’Arcy worked with Ramos’ team to eliminate a section that included the definition, she said she didn’t feel like it went far enough.

“(The institute) is relieved to learn that the rights of non-federally recognized tribes and previously terminated tribes in California will not be jeopardized by a bad, outdated definition of California Native American tribe,” she released in a statement. “We thank Assemblyman Ramos for taking our concerns to heart.”


Early last week, the 16 members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus expressed concerns about an anti-Jewish bias and an erasure of the Jewish-American experience in the state’s drafted Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

A letter detailing their frustrations was sent to Soomin Chao, the chair of the Instructional Quality Commission under the California Board of Education.

In their note, caucus members alleged that the proposed curriculum, mandated by a 2016 law that required its creation, fails to discuss anti-semitism, reinforces negative Jewish stereotypes and “singles out Israel for criticism.”

The letter detailed their worries, including the exclusion of antisemitism and mass shootings against Jewish people in the curriculum, despite its focus on hate crimes, white supremacy and bias against communities.

“It is critical that California’s students are educated about the global history of discrimination and hate-fueled violence,” tweeted state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, who is a member of the caucus. “But in the wake of Poway, Pittsburgh and the rise in anti-Semitic violence, any curriculum that excludes or minimizes anti-semitism will reinforce the very marginalization it hopes to alleviate. California’s students deserve better.”

The caucus urged the commission to amend their suggested curriculum and work with their members to ensure that the “cruel irony” of a curriculum meant to alleviate “prejudice and bigotry” against communities doesn’t instead do the opposite.

The education department said it would reach out to the caucus to “have a conversation regarding their concerns and the process to make revisions to the model curriculum.”

The commission posted the draft for public comment, available until Aug. 15, and the department will also recommend edits, according to spokesman Scott Roark.


“Now I’ve joined the surfing nation and so

I’ll take a permanent vacation and go

to the golden shores of ‘Frisco Bay,

I’ll ride them all the way to Malibu.”

The Beach Boys didn’t sing about the Golden State for nothing, and more than 75 percent of Californians share their infatuation for the state’s ocean and beaches.

That’s according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released on Tuesday that found most residents believe coastal conditions are critical to the state’s economy and quality of life.

Nearly as many Californians view plastics and marine debris as a threat to the coast’s conditions and the majority find issues like urban development and overfishing as harmful to wildlife.

While a portion of Republicans agreed that coastal conditions are threatened and that plastics or overfishing pose an issue, more Democrats were likely to think so.

Most of those polled said they also favor solutions like stopping offshore drilling and investing in wind power and wave energy. Democrats reported being more in favor for these initiatives than the Republicans surveyed.


ICYMI, Democrats now have a 0.01 percent stronghold in famously red Orange County, as of yesterday. Democrats take up 34.02 percent of registered voters, compared to 27.38 percent who identify as No Party Preference and 34.01 percent who are Republican.

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.