Land Acknowledgement In The State Capital for Indigenous People – a Step Towards Widespread Change

Share:

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.”

 

Share:

About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is co-editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

Related posts

11 thoughts on “Land Acknowledgement In The State Capital for Indigenous People – a Step Towards Widespread Change”

  1. Ron Oertel

    I don’t understand this article.  Is this a precursor to more federal land give-aways?  Which already belong to all of us – including Native Americans?

    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 Wilton Rancheria already has land, with a casino scheduled to open in 2022:

    Sky River Casino is a $500 million casino project in Sacramento County off Highway 99 at Grant Line Road in Elk Grove. The casino will be located 15 miles south of downtown Sacramento and feature 2,000 slot machines, 84 table games and a 12-table poker room. Sky River is expected to open in late 2022.

    https://www.500nations.com/casinos/ca-sky-river-casino.asp

     

     

  2. Alan Miller

    to read a land acknowledgement prior to the pledge of allegiance at every Council meeting.

    People reading words doesn’t impress me.  People being forced to read words impresses me even less.  Would be nice if they ceased opening with the pledge of allegiance like they were little kids in World War II, a practice that in most government bodies was enacted immediately after 911, but no politician dare challenge the practice, lest the be labelled ‘unpatriotic’, which is really weird, especially in California.

    Sky River Casino is a $500 million casino project in Sacramento County off Highway 99 at Grant Line Road in Elk Grove.

    The accompanying NEON should acknowledge their land rather prominently.

    1. Bill Marshall

      People being forced to read words impresses me even less.  Would be nice if they ceased opening with the pledge of allegiance like they were little kids in World War II, a practice that in most government bodies was enacted…

      Well, all the folk I know who would personally know when the PoA as ‘institutionalized’ cannot be asked except maybe by a ouija board… I do know it really got institutionalized in the 50’s, during the Cold War, with folk like Joe McCarthy and his ilk, who further required that the words, “… under God…” be added…

      That addition, ironically, caused a backlash in the 70’s-90’s, causing the Davis City Council (among others) to dispense with it… DJUSD retained it (PoA), but now they call it a ‘patriotic observance’, as I recall from their agendas.

      Anything done by “rote”, instead of heartfelt, personal intent, becomes ‘ritual’… and often, becomes effectively meaningless… certain rituals have their proper place… at proper times… few of them belong in the public purview, as the proper place is usually faith-based… one ‘mixed one’ is the “oath of office” Presidents, and most government employees have to do (I had to do it 3 times – the third time, I followed Geo Washington’s lead…

      The first Congress had a problem… they wanted to have folk “swear” the oath… not just promise… Geo Washington had a problem with ‘swearing an oath’ (scripturally based)… so Congress had to give the option of ‘affirming’ the promise, instead of ‘swearing’ an oath.

      Long way of saying I totally agree with Alan M’s comment.

  3. Chris Griffith

     

    So…  Can we build a time machine and travel back to that time to build a great big wall keep that would keep out all them illegal immigrants?

    I think the Indians just need to occupy the state capitol building and they can just turn that into a casino why should they waste 500 million on building a new casino.

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      As there is zero evidence that “indigenous” people are truly ‘sprung’/evolved from the original ‘great apes of the America’s’ (there never were any), they too are ‘immigrants’… just the earliest ones… before there were immigration laws or walls…

  4. Alan Miller

    I am very empathetic to the plight of Native Americans, and I believe an honest history should be taught in schools that neither glorifies the USA, nor whitewashes the brutality of how the US pushed native people off lands it wanted and killed them off en masse.  I would also include how they are still treated, and mistreated by laws and institutions supposedly put in place to help them.

    I’m not a fan of land acknowledgements in government institutions, most especially not permanent ones.  You want to throw an event and have a land acknowledgement, fine.  No issue.  Government institutions, however, should favor no one in its official practices, no matter how imperfect the institution itself.  This includes the pledge, itself a political vehicle of ‘patriotism’.  But no politician will ever have the guts to scrap either, and soon there will be acknowledgements for more groups that have been f*cked over.  I’m not saying ignore the wrongs, but this isn’t the way to right them.

    1. Bill Marshall

      I am very empathetic to the plight of Native Americans, and I believe an honest history should be taught in schools that neither glorifies the USA, nor whitewashes the brutality of how the US pushed native people off lands it wanted and killed them off en masse.  I would also include how they are still treated, and mistreated by laws and institutions supposedly put in place to help them.

      Again, in basic agreement… but a lot of the “death and destruction” was not due to “the US”… the Spanish did the same long before the US even existed, either thru conquest or introducing diseases… the French helped to do that at the disease level, and introduced “scalping” as tokens for bounty, when attacking British settlers… a true history would acknowledge brutality on many hands, not just the US government or its citizens… “the US” government did not exist until near the end of the 18th century, and the “seeds” were already sown… few innocents, many, European, indigenous, culpable… violence breeds violence.  Heck, tribes were attacking/killing/looking to eradicate fellow “indigenous folk” before “whitey” ever arrived… that is history…

      But I strongly believe that history should be taught with no “heros”… heroes are the stuff of legends, or Monday morning ‘spin’ of the ‘victors’ (or, sometimes the ‘losers’) … not history… they are, essentially, people, with gifts, and faults…

      In CA, have never heard of tribes attacking each other, on a serious scale, although it happened elsewhere in the Americas… mainly, it was a matter of “we live here, you’re welcome to join us, share our resources, but don’t try to rip us off!” (in CA)

       

  5. Chris Griffith

    Ya know the American Indians don’t have the market cornered on institutionalized genocide. Darn near every ‘civilized’ country in history had a dominant culture that killed off or otherwise suppressed a whole bunch of others, and even those that didn’t (as much) only didn’t due to accident of geography (say, the Japanese, not that it made them any less prone to doing the same thing to others). Heck, the Romans were much better at it than we are.

    There’s something about this story that just flat doesn’t smell right.

    I wonder what white government official and getting paid off to allow these Indians to have this casino?

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      Darn near every ‘civilized’ country in history had a dominant culture that killed off or otherwise suppressed a whole bunch of others,

      Probably a lot of the reason that some emigrated to America, white or not.  Probably everyone’s ancestors suffered from that, at some point along the way. Or, oppressed someone else. Or both.

      For that matter, it’s still occurring, in various forms. Not all of which are acknowledged.

      I wonder what white government official and getting paid off to allow these Indians to have this casino.

      I wouldn’t assume that government officials are “white”.

      In any case, I recall voting against this monopoly, some years ago.

  6. Alan Miller

    Y’all, I would recommend reading this excellent article on massacres of native people on the far north California coast.  These wiped out about 80% of the tribe there.  That can only be called genocide.  Let’s not sugar coat this by saying native people’s killed people too.  Of course they did.  That’s not the point.

    For a $1 you can subscribe to the LA Times for six months and can read this:

    https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-12-20/the-sale-of-reservation-ranch-summoned-a-violent-past

    I may speak ill of land acknowledgements because they are stupid, but if we really want to be real in government meetings, let’s call out the genocide that took place and that these were gangs of mass murderers who were never held accountable.  Not just ‘acknowledge’.  But that wouldn’t fit smoothly next to the pledge.

    1. Ron Oertel

      I saw that story before you posted it.

      What concerns me is that the tribe apparently wants to prevent public ownership of this land.  (The public which includes themselves.)  Instead, they had been (and apparently continue to) want the land solely for themselves.

      Looming Sale Of California Ranch Summons Violent Past – Los Angeles Times (losangelesdailytribune.com)

      (Other articles provide information regarding their attempts to acquire the land.)

      This type of thing is increasingly occurring. I personally don’t support it at all. The land and site are too important for them to become or remain privatized.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for