California Native People’s Path to Reconciliation Begins with Truth and Healing


In summary

As a member of the California Truth and Healing Council, I am charged with articulating the genocide perpetrated against the natives of the state.

Almost a year after the start of a global pandemic that is straining health systems and decimating communities, we learn that Indigenous people are 5.3 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID -19. This is the greatest disparity for any racial or ethnic group in the United States

The devastation this disease is causing in the Indian country is a byproduct of deeply rooted institutional failures and it is not the first time that Native Americans have been subjected to the deadly impacts of widespread disease.

This result is the result of a system built by more than 500 years of violence, dispossession and destructive policies – a system that has resulted in inadequate housing, limited availability of quality health care and the general inaccessibility of privilege. to work remotely and safely quarantine. at home.

For all of these reasons, our communities are more vulnerable to COVID-19. And because the disease disproportionately affects our seniors, COVID-19 threatens not only these beloved anchors of our communities, but also the vital cultural and linguistic knowledge they hold. By losing them, we also risk losing key connections to our values, traditions and who we are as a people.

Indigenous peoples have fought long and hard to protect and provide for our communities despite the destructive systems that weigh upon us – to protect our sovereign rights when they have been trampled on, to provide services to our communities when they have been left behind. to reckon and reinvigorate traditions that were almost lost due to forced assimilation. Thanks to our enduring resilience, we survived the genocide and we thrived.

But it is high time the rest of American society came to our side. Together we must tell the full, unsanitized story of how and why we got here. Until we break long-held assumptions, erasure and warped history on an equal footing, we cannot begin to work together to build a prosperous future based on honesty, respect and respect. mutual accountability.

Last week, the State of California took a crucial step in this direction by convening the first meeting of the California Truth and Healing Council. As a board member, I’m tasked with articulating one of the worst chapters of state-sponsored violence this country has ever seen – the genocide against tribal nations in the early days of the state of California.

It will be a five-year process that will seek to shed light on the stories, documents and impacts of the dark saga that underlies the California dream. This journey will require the council and our communities to delve into historical trauma after living too long in the collective ignorance of these stories.

It won’t be an easy task, but I think the council can serve as a hub to connect the many rich stories of Indigenous people and build a fuller and truer history of California. I hope this work serves as a more honest premise from which we can pursue restorative and restorative laws, policies and collective action.

This progress will also require a culture change. The conclusions of this council must be found in museums, textbooks, legislative hearings and table conservations. Californians should know what stolen land they live on; wonder who they drink the stolen water from and appreciate the rich cultures that could never be completely stolen from us.

Together, we must ask the questions that connect our past to our present, such as why our state motto is “Eureka,” why California has such a high rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and why Indigenous students are still forced to build Spanish. missions in sugar cubes.

This Truth and Healing Council is historic in its scope and nature, and its potential impact, but it is really just the beginning. What this council finds will shape how we move forward as one state and many tribes who together hold a promise for everyone.


Frankie also wrote on keep the momentum for remove dams on the Klamath River and restore salmon runs.

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