SACRAMENTO—Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed a bill allowing the University of California, Hastings College of the Law to remove the name of its notorious founder from the school’s name and specifying restorative justice measures to benefit the Yuki and Round Valley Indian people. The proposal, AB 1936, was introduced by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) and co-authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). The measure was part of a five-bill tribal package Newsom approved.
AB 1936 strikes the name of Serranus C. Hastings from the school’s name and specifies restorative justice measures for the Yuki and Round Valley Indian Tribes whose ancestors were killed by Hastings, the College’s namesake. The California Legislature named the school in state statute in 1878 following payment of $100,000 to the State Treasury by Hastings, California’s first chief justice and a state attorney general. Because of the 1878 legislative action, a state statute is now required to rename the campus.
In the release announcing his approval of the Ramos bills, Newsom said, “As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities.” The governor added, “I thank all the legislators and tribal partners whose leadership and advocacy help light the path forward in our work to build a better, stronger and more just state together.”
Ramos said, “I thank the governor for signing this bill which acknowledges a past wrong and takes steps toward healing a painful chapter for the Yuki and Round Valley people. The events of the past cannot be undone, but hopefully this piece of legislation will bring about meaningful changes.”
James Russ, President of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, said, “On behalf of the Round Valley Indian Tribal Council, we would like to thank Governor Newsom, the State Senate and State Assembly, the Law College Board and Staff for allowing our voice to be heard on this important issue. We send a special thanks to Assemblyman James Ramos for his leadership and dedication. The removing of the Hastings name from the college and amending the State Education code is only the first step in this process. The Governor’s signing of AB 1936 today recognizes the atrocities of our past. We look forward to working with the law college staff on the initiatives that are very important to our people and our future generations.”
In November of 2021 the College Board of Directors approved changing the school’s name. In December 2021, Ramos initiated discussions with the college’s Chancellor & Dean David Faigman, Round Valley Indian Tribes President James Russ and Yuki tribal committee representatives to ensure collaboration between the parties. More than 20 meetings were held since 2021 as provisions were negotiated by lawmakers, the law school and the Northern California tribes.
Ramos, whose own clan was almost exterminated by similar militias in the San Bernardino Mountains, said, “AB 1936 enacts several effective restorative justice policies for the Yuki and Round Valley Indian people, including naming the law library with an indigenous name, acknowledging the founder’s history at both convocation and commencement events for the College and other initiatives.” He added, “AB 1936 ensures that the history and suffering of the Yuki and Round Valley people are not dismissed. This is a critical step toward healing a traumatic history and rectifying wrongs.”
AB 1936 is co-sponsored by the Round Valley Indian Tribes, and the Yuki Indian Committee. It is supported by the Barona Band of Mission Indians, California Nations, Indian Gaming Association, Cahto Tribe, Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Pinoleville Pomo Nation, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Tachi Yokut Tribe, Tule River Tribe, UC Hastings Alumni for Justice and Accountability, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and Yurok Tribe.
Assemblymember Phil Ting (D- San Francisco) is a joint author. Co-authors are Assemblymembers Steve Bennett (D-Ventura), Isaac Bryan (D-Jefferson Park), Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D- Coachella), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Luz Rivas (D-San Bernardino), Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), and Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) and Senators Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), Mike McGuire (D-Santa Rosa), Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Thomas J. Umberg (D-Orange County) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).
Other Ramos tribal bills signed today are:
- AB 923 which requires state agency leaders to undertake training in properly communicating and interacting with tribes on government-to-government issues that affect them.
- AB 1314 that creates a “Feather Alert – similar to those used in cases of abducted children – to enlist public assistance to quickly find Native Americans missing under suspicious circumstances. Native Americans face disproportionate numbers of missing and murdered people in their communities.
- AB 1703, the California Indian Education Act, that encourages school districts, charter schools and county offices of education to engage with the tribes in their area to provide more accurate and complete instruction about the tribes’ culture and history and share instructional materials with the California Department of Education.
- AB 2022 that requires renaming of California geographic features, landmarks, public lands, waters and structures using the word “squaw” as part of the name by January 1, 2024.
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature. Ramos is also chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.