Tribes, educators prepare to implement Ramos’s California Indian Education Act

Bill encourages local tribal family & school engagement, more accurate Native American curriculum, narrowing of achievement gap

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For Release                                                                                         Contact: Maria L. Lopez
December 12, 2022                                                                            Cell: (916) 712-9854

Tribes, educators prepare to implement Ramos’s California Indian Education Act
Bill encourages local tribal family & school engagement, more accurate Native American curriculum, narrowing of achievement gap

SAN JACINTO—Tribal leaders and educators gathered today to discuss how to prepare for AB 1703, the California Indian Education Act, which will take effect in January and that encourages local school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education to engage with regional Native American tribes to develop curriculum and discuss issues of concern. Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) authored the measure.

“I’m appreciative that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed this measure, which begins to let Native Americans share their history and culture in the classroom. It is especially meaningful that he gave AB 1703 his thumbs up on California Native American Day,” Ramos said. “It’s critical that we teach all students about the diversity of California’s more than 100 tribes. They each have different languages, customs, culture, and history. Without this interaction, we cannot develop the more complete and high quality curriculum we seek, and we will continue to see incidents like that involving the Riverside math teacher. AB 1703 also provides teachers with more instructional tools and forges understanding among students and between local tribal families and their children’s campuses.”

Ramos noted that presenters at an October 2021 informational hearing by the Select Committee on Native American Affairs and the Education Committee also stressed the importance for local educators to collaborate with their tribes to bring Native American history and culture into classrooms.

Upon signing the legislation in September, Gov. Newsom stated, “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.”

In addition to encouraging formation of California Indian Education Taskforces, AB 1703 also

  • Encourages Task Force members to develop high quality curricular materials, including the correct and proper depictions of Native Americans.
  • Allows Task Forces to submit curricular materials to be forwarded the county offices of education for inclusion in model curriculum.
  • Requires the California Department of Education to submit an annual report to the Assembly and Senate education committees based on findings of the Task Forces and make recommendations to narrow the achievement gap—including what, if any, obstacles are encountered and what strategies are being developed to deal with the challenges.

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Vice Chairperson Geneva Mojado and a program participant said, “California Indian People have been here long before the naming of California itself. The Payómkawichum (People of the West) is our true name, prior to the missionization change to Luiseño. “The passage of AB 1703 gives us the opportunity to teach our history as California Indian people.” She added, “As tribal leaders we continue to educate the state Legislature on the history of Indian people and remind them we are still here. We hope that other school districts within our Golden State will embrace the Indian Education Act to teach the true and accurate history of California’s First People.”

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Ted Alejandre commented, “Assemblymember Ramos is providing an important opportunity for educators to dialogue directly with tribes and tribal organizations regarding implementation of the California Indian Education Act. We look forward to the collaboration and are pleased to have a seat at the table.”

Participants included  Soboboba Band of Luiseño Indians Chairman Isaiah Vivanco, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Vice Chairman Johnny Hernández Jr., Cahuilla Band of Mission Indians Chairman Daniel Salgado, California Department of Education Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Nancy Kim Portillo, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin Gomez, San Bernardino County Office of Education Assistant Superintendent for Education Support Services Miki Inbody; and students Su’la Arviso and Rihanna Salgado.

AB 1703 was sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and the California Department of Education. Supporters include the California Teachers Association, California Association for Bilingual Education, California Calls, California Charter Schools Association, California Native Vote Project, California State Parent Teacher Association, Californians Together, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, Tachi Yokut Tribe, Tule River Tribe, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Redlands Unified School District, and Riverside Unified School District.

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Assemblymember James C. Ramos proudly represents the 45th Assembly district, which includes Fontana, Highland, Mentone, Redlands, Rialto, and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state Legislature. He chairs the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.