California Breaks Ground on Native American Monument | news

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Long before California got its name, the Miwok Indians hunted and fished along the banks of what later became the Sacramento River — including where the state capitol now stands, surrounded by dozens of memorials to the history of the state.

Now, for the first time, this tribe and others like it will have a memorial honoring its history — a recognition made possible by protesters who tore down a statue of a Spanish missionary two years ago in a moment marked by a reappraisal of California’s past collapsed.

State and tribal officials gathered Monday to lay the foundation stone for a statue of the late William Franklin Sr., a prominent member of the Miwok tribe who worked to preserve tribal culture, including its traditional dances. The statue will replace one of Rev. Junipero Serra, a Roman Catholic priest who established missions from San Diego to San Francisco to convert Native Americans to Christianity.

Serra’s legacy in California has been reassessed in recent decades in light of the many Native Americans who have been forced to live and work in the missions, where they have been physically abused. Thousands died.

In the summer of 2020, following the killing of George Floyd by a white Minnesota police officer, protesters tore down the Serra statue in California’s Capitol along with statues in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Last year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to replace the statue with a memorial to the Native American tribes of California.

“For us, this memorial is more than just correcting a historical moment,” said Regina Cuellar, chairperson of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians’ involvement of native speakers in all affairs of state.

The statue is one of several changes in how the state recognizes its history. As of summer 2020, state officials have also removed a statue of Christopher Columbus from the state capitol and passed legislation to rename any location that uses the word “squaw.”

They also voted to rename the UC Hastings College of Law, which was named after Serranus Clinton Hastings, a former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court who helped fund campaigns by white settlers to kill and enslave members of the Yuki Indian tribe .

James Ramos, member of the Democratic Assembly, the only Native American in the state legislature, said Monday he was acting “as the voice of our ancestors still shouting from the California state grounds.”

“Once completed, this new memorial will serve to remind students and all visitors to this historic Capitol Park that Native Americans lived on—and cared for—this land long before California statehood and its preceding eras,” said Ramos.