CA Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation Friday that officially declared Sept. 27 as the state’s Native American Day.
In the official proclamation, Newsom emphasized the importance of California’s Native population, citing Natives as leaders in renewable energy, disaster response and natural resource management. In addition to the implementation of Native American Day, Newsom announced the creation of the Truth and Healing Council.
“From the redwoods and salmon of the North Coast, to the rivers and oaks of the foothills, to the springs and mesquite trees of the desert, California Native Americans stewarded this land, building flourishing communities, speaking distinct languages and fostering vibrant cultures,” Newsom said in the proclamation.
The proclamation comes after Newsom’s executive order in June, which formally apologized to California Natives on behalf of the state for the numerous instances of “violence, mistreatment and neglect inflicted upon California Native Americans throughout the state’s history.”
Royale Pinassi, a campus freshman and member of the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation located in Northern California, said the proclamation is a small step, but that everyday struggles of Natives may still be overlooked.
“It’s a step in a great direction in terms of erasing the ideology of colonialism and putting the truth out there, but I think there are greater problems and struggles that Native people deal with from day to day to worry about,” Pinassi said.
Beyond implementation of the Native American Day, Pinassi said more can be done in terms of awareness for the origins of both the city and UC Berkeley’s land, and that change takes “small steps.”
The city of Berkeley rests on land that was originally occupied by the Ohlone people.
The West Berkeley Shellmound, for instance, is one of the city’s oldest Ohlone villages — dating back thousands of years.
In February, the city installed new signs to acknowledge that Berkeley residents occupy Native land. Lisjan/Ohlone leader Corinna Gould formerly told the Daily Californian that Berkeley is the first city in the Bay Area to acknowledge the current presence of the Ohlone people.
Pinassi said California’s Native American Day could create more recognition, but a day does not necessarily equate to change.
“Although I think this change is conducive to a greater notion of recognition, I haven’t seen anything change,” Pinassi said. “This day has always been Native American Day for most tribes in California and around the world … If we want to see change then one must actually listen to us and what is going on, not just give us a day that we already have.”