By Emily Andrews
SACRAMENTO – With hopes of being an example to other cities in California, the Sacramento City Council has unanimously passed a resolution to read a land acknowledgement prior to the pledge of allegiance at every Council meeting.
The land acknowledgement came to fruition when Sacramento’s Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee passed an item for the statement to be read at the beginning of every committee meeting. After months of attempting to pass the statement to the City Council, the implementation was unanimously agreed upon last Tuesday.
Sacramento’s only federally recognized tribe, the Wilton Rancheria, held a land blessing ceremony that Tuesday afternoon and celebrated the momentous step towards “atonement,” as stated by chairman Jesus Tarango Jr. in an interview with the Sacramento Bee.
The city-wide acknowledgement of Indigenous people and the ancestral lands that Sacramento was built upon is a reminder that Native Americans still live here,and an honoring of their ancestors. Tarango explains, “This is a way to show them that we were here, we’re still here, and we plan on being here.” It is a testament to the hardships they have endured and continue to endure.
“Unless we learn the lessons of our history and reckon with our own past, we can’t possibly be successful in attaining or even moving closer to attaining a greater racial equity, it’s about learning the lessons and then changing,” Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg stated at the Council meeting.
Last year, California was the first state in the nation to have considered a bill to enforce a formal statement of the hardships of Indigenous peoples in public schools, parks, libraries, and museums on a state-wide level, but the bill died in a Senate Committee.
As one of the first states in the nation to have attempted a formal state-wide acknowledgement, the bill was first successfully approved by the Assembly, a sign of the rapidly developing awareness of the Indigenous people that lived, and still live, in America. Additionally, land acknowledgements have been approved in events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Academy Awards, as well as other major cities such as Portland and Denver.
While the state-wide bill failed, with the land acknowledgement now unanimously approved in the state’s capital, there is a more hopeful push towards other California cities to adopt formal statements in recognition of and in solidarity with their Native populations.
Sacramento has been heavily involved in the movement towards racial and ethnic equality and justice in the midst of the Black Lives Matter and #StopAsianHate movements last year.
Sacramento was built on the land of the Nisenan, Southern Maidu, Valley and Plains Miwok, and Patwin Wintun peoples. The acknowledgement names all of them and pays tribute to the hardships they endured, as well as reminding the city that the Indigenous population of Sacramento is still here.
The approved land acknowledgement is: “To the original people of this land: The Nisenan people, The Southern Maidu, Valley and Plains Miwok, Patwin Wintun peoples, and the people of the Wilton Rancheria, Sacramento’s only federally recognized tribe. May we acknowledge and honor the Native people who came before us and still walk beside us today on these ancestral lands by choosing to gather together today in the active practice of acknowledgment and appreciation for Sacramento’s Indigenous People’s history, contributions, and lives. Thank you.”