HOW CALIFORNIANS HONOR INDIGENOUS TREATIES (draft) aka the plan for “RETURN CALIFORNIA”
by Matt Owen and Marcus Ruiz Evans.
Article reviewed & CONCEPT OF HAVING THIS DISCUSSION “about retro-ceding All Federal Land in California to Indigenous Nations” (referred to as “RETURN CALIFORNIA”) …ENDORSED BY:
Sue Hirsch, Kayla Moon, Claudia Espinosa, Mark Godges, John Pomeroy, Bob Scott, Justin Randal, Ray Diaz, Mitchell Seechi, Cade Murphy, Gacho Cencatlahuelli, David Rodriguez, Joseph Soto, Jeff Fowler, James Perez, Scott Barta as an idea on how best to pay reparations for the Genocide the California government committed between 1846 to 1873, the trickery that happened with broken treaties signed in 1851 guaranteeing vast tracts of land in California to the Indigenous Nations, and the general history of not treating Indigenous Californians with respect.
— What do Californians who are not Indigenous GET FROM THIS. Hint: we fight Climate Change better than we ever have AND stop forest fires!
This map below shows what the concept of “RETURN CALIFORNIA” (to the indigenous) is all about.
THE GRAND DISCUSSION
Recently many in the Calexit movement (but not all) have suggested that rather than California as a nation absorbing Federal land, and claiming it as California’s — that we as Californians should take this historical opportunity to fix a wrong, and return (retrocede) all Federal land to the people who it was stolen from.
As part of this effort, Calexit members have been contacting Indigenous Nations of California over the last few weeks and STARTING a dialogue about HOW BEST TO PAY FOR A GENOCIDE?
The idea of returning ALL FED LAND TO INDIGENOUS NATIONS when/ as part of the process of California becoming independent from America, seems popular so far, but one of the most urgent questions raised by Indigenous Nations in California about California independence has been: what becomes of our treaty rights if California is no longer part of the United States? What guarantees do we have that an independent California Republic would honor those treaties?
WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR WITH HAVING THIS DISCUSSION:
The idea of having a conversation among Californians (Indigenous and non Indigenous) to return Federal land to Indigenous Nations of California was started by non Indigenous Californians connected to the Calexit campaign. Since that time, we have made a conscious effort to not drive this campaign and to follow the leadership and guidance of Indigenous Californians who were willing to join the team. We have done this so far with 4 distinct actions.
ONE: The protocol for communicating with Indigenous Nations was designed by an Indigenous Californian and reviewed by another Indigenous Californian. Non Indigenous Californians did not design the protocol.
· The plan for communicating with Indigenous Nations is to:
· Email an invitation (to have a series of listening sessions in different regions around California to discuss the idea of returning Federal land to Indigenous Californian Nations) to 600 California Indigenous email contacts that we have. This will get an electronic invitation to almost everyone who is active in the California Indigenous community.
· This email (initially from Return California) would only go to Indigenous Californians and not to Indigenous people who live in California but are not from a California Indigenous Nation. However, it is hoped, that Indigenous Californians from a California Indigenous Nation — would choose to share this email with other Indigenous people who live in California, but aren’t from a California Indigenous Nation. We are only saying that Return California (because it is composed of non California Indigenous Nation’s people should not be sharing this conversation with Indigenous people of California, who aren’t from a California Indigenous Nation. It is up to California Indigenous Nations to decide how they want to involve Indigenous people who live in California, but aren’t from a California Indigenous nation.)
· Additionally — We would also mail the invitation to the Tribal headquarters for only Indigenous California Nations.
· Indigenous California Nations would then contact other Indigenous people who lived in California but were not from a California Indigenous nation.
· This ensures the conversation about returning Federal land is being spread by California indigenous people.
· Additionally — Return California members who are not Indigenous would call only Indigenous California nations — only to ask if they had received the invitation for regional listening sessions and if they had not — then to ask them for an email to email them the invitation. We would not be selling them on the idea and only asking if they had received the invitation.
TWO: The graphic that we use to explain the idea behind Return California is based on the concerns from an Indigenous Californian about this idea.
· It is a direct response to concerns about how to present/ represent the idea of having a conversation about returning Indigenous land back.
THREE: The invitation that Return California designed to be emailed to 600 emails/ mailed to Indigenous Tribal headquarters was done in direct consultation, and based on detailed feedback with Indigenous Californians.
FOUR: The name of our organization (“Return California”) was chosen from Indigenous Californians. Our original name was “Indigenize California” but the group changed it the moment Indigenous California members of our team said they liked this name better for our group.
NOW TO THE ACTUAL PLAN FOR RETURNING FEDERAL LAND TO INDIGENOUS CALIFORNIA NATIONS
HOW CALIFORNIANS HONOR INDIGENOUS TREATIES #1: Return all Federal land to Indigenous.
The good news is that there is already a lot of support for this idea. International legal scholars say this should happen, including the United Nations. The Federal government has retroceded land before, so we know it can be done, and California already has a law on taking back Federal land.
THE FEDERAL LAND IN CALIFORNIA
THE CALIFORNIA POPULATION — IS NOT CONNECTED TO FEDERAL LAND
THE CALIFORNIA ECONOMY — IS NOT CONNECTED TO FEDERAL LAND
THE POINT IS — Californians retroceding Federal land to Indigenous Californians is in keeping with the spirit of the Indigenous Occupation that Occurred in California from 1969–1971 (Alcatraz). A tiny percent of the total Federal property in California is actually populated with Californians or connected to the California economy, meaning that the overwhelming majority of Federal land is not being used by California. Therefore, why not stay with the spirit of the greatest Indigenous protest in America in the last century and return all of this unused Federal land to the Indigenous Californians.
CALIFORNIANS SAYING/VOTING TO RETURN ALL (OR AS MUCH AS IS REASONABLE POSSIBLE, AKA SOMETHING AROUND 95% OF FEDERAL LAND) TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES — BEFORE CALIFORNIA BECOME INDEPENDENT — WOULD SHOW A COMMITMENT BY CALIFORNIANS TO HONOR TREATIES TO INDIGENOUS NATIONS.
Certainly more discussion and data is needed, but looking at just the 2 maps above — does it prove that this is a DISCUSSION WORTH HAVING. California could pay for a genocide, its’ government committed, and this would NOT split up the California people, and have almost no impact on the California economy. We pay reparations for a huge historical nightmare — and it barely costs us anything! Isn’t that worth talking about MORE.
HOW CALIFORNIANS HONOR INDIGENOUS TREATIES #2: Do nothing to affect the land the Federal government currently recognizes as belonging to Indigenous people.
Here is a map from the California government and the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs showing all of the Indigenous Land that the Federal government recognizes in California. The map is broken up and zoomed in, so that you can see most of the Reservations, Rancherias, Trusts, and other land dedicated currently to the Indigenous of California is included within Federal land boundaries. Very large few reservations — exist outside of the Federal land boundaries and all of these that do aren’t connected to the CALIFORNIA PEOPLE OR ECONOMY. While many Rancherias ARE outside of the Federal land boundaries, the amount of land these hold is much smaller than the dot on the map suggests for them, making it a tiny impact on the California economy to lose these areas.
California can vote to return all Federal land to Indigenous Nations in California. Indigenous Nations (Native Tribes) represented on the map below KEEP all of their current land, and relationship with the Federal government AS IS. Simply put, Indigenous Nations would be given (retroceded) a lot more of THEIR land that surrounds their current Rancherias, Reservations, or other types of Federally recognized land, and they could either take this offer from California that comes with no strings attached, or reject it.
Calexit is not asking Indigenous people to choose to go with California when it separates from America, we are saying — keep the land the Federal government recognizes now as your, and we are going to offer you — as much as possible all — of the rest of your land.
HOW CALIFORNIANS HONOR INDIGENOUS TREATIES #3: Pursue governing together — because this means you have to trust eachother.
ONE OPTION, if Indigenous Nations desire would be for the California government and Indigenous Nations to govern the returned Federal land together. In return for California having more control over the former Federal land (at the permission of the actual owners), California would modify its form of government to force Indigenous Voices to be directly heard on all matters.
An option would be that the bureaucracies of the US Department of the Interior which govern both Federal lands and the indigenous people of the US, be replaced by a democracy, the California Indigenous Congress, the members of which would be sent by the sovereign Indigenous Nations of California, both to govern the former Federal lands, and as another house of the California legislature.
The model for this government would come from right here in California. The cities of Palm Springs and Cathedral City are, in effect, co-governed by their City Councils and the General Council of the Agua Caliente Reservation: they are plurinational cities.
We know this unique form of government WORKS — because In Palm Springs, the economy is one of the richest in all of California, and the Indigenous population is debatably the most empowered of any Indigenous Nation in California.
Palm Springs has worked to attract development and did a good job of that in a very challenging economy
No one interviewed by The Desert Sun said they knew of an Agua Caliente landowner who had refused to extend a lease to homeowners or sell land, and the Ramon Drug building was the only example local experts cited of a commercial lease ending. All over the city, homes continue to sell fast on lease land, and new businesses keep springing up.
Bolivia is a recognized nation that has a Plurinational Government, where the main government provides guaranteed representation for Indigenous Nations in the overall running of the government. Additionally, the government recognizes autonomous regions for Indigenous Nations, within the boundaries of the National map.
Native Community Lands, according to Bolivian law, are territories held by indigenous people through collective title. The creation of these territories has been a major goal of Bolivian indigenous movements and a political initiative pursued by both neoliberal and indigenous-identified national governments.
The Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional (Plurinational Legislative Assembly or National Congress) has two chambers. The Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) has 130 members elected to five-year terms, seventy from single-member districts (circunscripciones), sixty by proportional representation, and seven by the minority indigenous peoples of seven departments.
This march led to the recognition of four indigenous territories (Siriono Indigenous Territory, Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory, the Multiethnic Indigenous Territory I, and Chimán Indigenous Territory) and the government’s 1991 ratification of the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention.
Mexico also provides a working example of how Indigenous Nations can be included in the running of the overall government.
The National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) is an organization of communities, nations, towns, neighbourhoods and indigenous tribes of Mexico. In its own words, the CNI is “… a space of unity, reflection and organization of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, promoting the integral reconstitution of the original peoples and the construction of a society in which all cultures, all the colors, all the towns that we are Mexico.
CNI have long advocated for the right of Mexico’s Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities to govern themselves autonomously from the Mexican state.
NOW THAT WE HAVE FIRST EXPLAINED HOW THIS is GOOD for CALIFORNIA INDIGENOUS — — — — — — — — WE CAN TALK ABOUT WHY THIS IS GOOD FOR CALIFORNIA OVERALL.
Download the PPT:
MORE INFO on Indigenous Nations of California MANAGED THE LAND — they did not let it just be wild, and because of that there were less forest fires, more healthy forests, and more water.
- Slide Two:
- “Jerry Brown declares emergency for dying trees” (October 30, 2015) David Siders, Sacramento Bee, retrieved from: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article41962989.html
- “Trump says California’s water policies are making the wildfires worse. Is he right?” (August 6, 2018) Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee, retrieved from: https://www.sacbee.com/latest-news/article216181625.html
- “Trump: Environmental laws making California wildfires ‘so much worse‘” (August 5, 2018) Max Greenwood, The Hill, retrieved from: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/400484-trump-california-environmental-laws-make-wildfires-so-much-worse
- Slide Three:
- “Forests and Water in the Sierra Nevada: Sierra Nevada Watershed Ecosystem Enhancement Project” (November 29, 2011) Roger C. Bales et al., Sierra Nevada Research Institute, retrieved from: http://ucanr.edu/sites/cff/files/146199.pdf
- Slide Four:
- “For Native Foresters, Land Management About More than Economics and Timber” (May 20, 2016) Timothy Brown, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, retrieved from: http://environment.yale.edu/news/article/for-native-american-foresters-managing-the-land-transcends-economics-and-timber/
- “Native Knowledge: What Ecologists Are Learning from Indigenous People” (April 26, 2018) Jim Robbins, YaleEnvironment360, retrieved from: https://e360.yale.edu/features/native-knowledge-what-ecologists-are-learning-from-indigenous-people
- Slide Five:
- “Climate change and indigenous people” (2017) United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, retrieved from: http://www.un.org/en/events/indigenousday/pdf/Backgrounder_ClimateChange_FINAL.pdf
- “Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Are the World’s Secret Weapon in Curbing Climate Change” (November 10, 2016) Katie Reytar and Peter Velt, World Resources Institute, retrieved from: http://www.wri.org/blog/2016/11/indigenous-peoples-and-local-communities-are-worlds-secret-weapon-curbing-climate
- Slide Six:
- “Indigenous Peoples, Lands, and Resources” (2014) National Climate Assessment, U.S. Global Change Research Program, retrieved from: https://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/sectors/indigenous-peoples
- “Technical Note: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: From Victims to Change Agents through Decent Work” (2016) The Green Intiative and International Labour Organization, retrieved from: https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/2016/Docs-updates/Technical-Note_Indigenous-Peoples_ILO.pdf
- “Firefighters watch a 2015 wildfire in northern California. Destructive blazes such as these were less common in the region in the ancient past.” https://www.archaeology.org/issues/272-1709/letter-from/5826-letter-from-california-fires