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California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections | Racial Justice

Governor Brown establishes tribal advisor position
by Dan Bacher
Monday Sep 19th, 2011 2:57 PM
The order declares, "the State is committed to strengthening and sustaining effective government-to-government relationships between the State and the Tribes by identifying areas of mutual concern and working to develop partnerships and consensus."

Photo from left to right: Chairperson of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations Lynn Valbuena, Vice Chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Richard Gomez, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Chairman of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians Bo Mazzetti and Senior Advisor to the Governor Jacob Appelsmith. Photo Credit: Justin Short, Office of the Governor.
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Governor Brown establishes tribal advisor position

by Dan Bacher

Sacramento - Governor Jerry Brown on September 19 issued an Executive Order establishing the position of Governor’s Tribal Advisor in the Office of the Governor in order "to strengthen communication and collaboration between California state government and Native American Tribes."

Brown has not yet appointed anyone to the new, unpaid position.

"This position will serve as a direct link between the Governor’s Office and tribal governments on matters including legislation, policy and regulation," according to a news release from the Governor's Office. "Governor Brown signed the Executive Order today while attending the TASIN All California Tribes Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento, CA."

According to the order, the position will facilitate communication and consultations between the Tribes, the Office of the Governor, state agencies, and agency tribal liaisons and review state legislation and regulations affecting Tribes and make recommendations on these proposals.

The order also declared the "Office of the Governor shall meet regularly with the elected officials of California Indian Tribes to discuss state policies that may affect tribal communities."

In addition, the order stated it is "the policy of this Administration that every state agency and department subject to my executive control shall encourage communication and consultation with California Indian Tribes."

In one noteworthy difference with the federal government, Brown’s order doesn’t apply just to Federally Recognized Tribes, but to all California Native Americans.

The lack of state government consultation with California Indian Tribes has been a persistent problem, as evidenced by the recent battle by the Yurok and other North Coast Tribes to pressure the state of California to recognize Tribal gathering rights under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. The failure of the state to consult with Tribes has also been evidenced by the state's failure to include Tribal representatives in The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and other governmental processes.

Caleen Sisk-Franco, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe, responded to Brown's action by saying, "This seems like a good Executive Order that the Governor has signed." However, she had a number of questions about the Order.

"One has to wonder why Tribes like the Winnemem Wintu were not invited to the meeting at the Sheridan Inn?" Sisk-Franco asked. "Will there be fair representation available to all Tribes? Will there be a position available for 'Unrecognized" Calif. Tribal staff to represent the issues? Federally Recognized tribes have not represented these issues fairly."

The Tribe is now engaged in an ambitious program to return the original strain of endangered winter run chinook salmon, now thriving in the Rakaira and other rivers in New Zealand, to the McCloud River above Lake Shasta.

The Winnemem Wintu are a traditional Tribe who inhabits their ancestral territory from Mt. Shasta down the McCloud River watershed, according to the Tribe's website (http://www.winnememwintu.us/). When the Shasta Dam was constructed during World War II, it flooded their home and blocked the salmon runs.

"The salmon are an integral part of our lifeway and of a healthy McCloud River watershed," according to the Tribe. "We believe that when the last salmon is gone, humans will be gone too. Our fight to return the salmon to the McCloud River is no less than a fight to save the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. As salmon people and middle water people we advocate for all aspects of clean water and the restoration of salmon to their natural spawning grounds."

The text of the Executive Order is below:

EXECUTIVE ORDER B-10-11

WHEREAS California is home to many Native American Tribes with whom the State of California has an important relationship, as set forth and affirmed in state and federal law; and

WHEREAS the State of California recognizes and reaffirms the inherent right of these Tribes to exercise sovereign authority over their members and territory; and

WHEREAS the State and the Tribes are better able to adopt and implement mutually-beneficial policies when they cooperate and engage in meaningful consultation; and

WHEREAS the State is committed to strengthening and sustaining effective government-to-government relationships between the State and the Tribes by identifying areas of mutual concern and working to develop partnerships and consensus; and

WHEREAS tribal people, as both citizens of California and their respective sovereign nations, have a shared interest in creating increased opportunities for all California citizens.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue the following orders to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED that the position of Governor’s Tribal Advisor shall exist within the Office of the Governor;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Governor’s Tribal Advisor shall oversee and implement effective government-to-government consultation between my Administration and Tribes on policies that affect California tribal communities, and shall:

Serve as a direct link between the Tribes and the Governor of the State of California.
Facilitate communication and consultations between the Tribes, the Office of the Governor, state agencies, and agency tribal liaisons.
Review state legislation and regulations affecting Tribes and make recommendations on these proposals.

IT IS FUTHER ORDERED that the Office of the Governor shall meet regularly with the elected officials of California Indian Tribes to discuss state policies that may affect tribal communities.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that it is the policy of this Administration that every state agency and department subject to my executive control shall encourage communication and consultation with California Indian Tribes. Agencies and departments shall permit elected officials and other representatives of tribal governments to provide meaningful input into the development of legislation, regulations, rules, and policies on matters that may affect tribal communities.

For purposes of this Order, the terms “Tribe,” “California Indian Tribe”, and “tribal” include all Federally Recognized Tribes and other California Native Americans.

This Executive Order is not intended to create, and does not create, any rights or benefits, whether substantive or procedural, or enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California or its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State and that it be given widespread publicity and notice.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my
hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 19th day of September 2011.

___________________________________
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor of California

ATTEST:

___________________________________
DEBRA BOWEN
Secretary of State

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