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Native American Heritage Commission Chair Elected

Members also select Vice-Chair and Secretary at Quarterly Meeting

RamosCalifornia’s Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) announced today that Highland, Calif. resident James Ramos will serve as NAHC Chairman following the election on Dec. 12, 2008 in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Ramos fills the position held by Bakersfield, Calif. resident William (Bill) Mungary, a Paiute/White Mountain Apache Indian for the past 18 years. Mr. Mungary decided to step down and was given the courtesy and opportunity to take the lead in nominating Mr. Ramos. Ramos was elected uncontested and unanimously. Mungary will continue to stay on as a commissioner.

“James Ramos is going to do a great job of fostering the preservation and protection of Native American cultural and ancestral remains, artifacts and traditions. As a tribal chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, he has had a considerable amount of experience in this regard and we expect his voice to be loud and clear in ensuring that there is widespread respect for our past and that our traditions are carried proudly for future generations,” said NAHC Executive Secretary Larry Myers. “I also want to express our sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for the long and distinguished service of outgoing Chair Bill Mungary, we are elated that he has agreed to continue with us as a commissioner.”

Ramos, a Serrano/Cahuilla Indian, is chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. He has served as cultural awareness program coordinator for the tribe, has held various tribal offices and is currently a trustee for the San Bernardino Community College District.

Ramos has also implemented youth leadership programs and taught traditional activities to tribal youth as a way to encourage and continue Native American traditions for future generations.

In his role as NAHC chairman he will oversee efforts to protect and preserve human remains, associated grave goods, cultural resources and will work to encourage the continuance of Native American culture.

mirandaTemecula resident Laura Miranda, a member of the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians, was elected Vice Chairperson. As a tribal attorney over the past 10 years, Ms. Miranda has devoted a large part of her practice to cultural resources protection.

Ms. Miranda has helped to draft several cultural resources protection laws in the state, including the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Steinberg), and SB 18 (Burton), a comprehensive measure that provided fundamental protections for American Indian sacred sites throughout California. Miranda was a key architect of the bill and worked with legislators and opposing groups to build consensus among diverse stakeholders.

Ms. Miranda has been successful in negotiating numerous agreements and settlements on behalf of tribes with local government agencies and land developers leading to protections for cultural resources and Native American human remains. Miranda has testified on cultural resources protection issues at federal, state and local hearings.

Miranda fills the position vacated by Yucaipa resident, Dr. Clifford Trafzer, a Wyandot Indian.

TumamaitOjai resident Julie Tumamait-Stenslie was elected NAHC Secretary. Tumamait-Stenslie has been educating children in the elementary schools as well as at the university level for over 20 years. Ms. Tumamait-Stenslie works with the local Museums through out the counties. “ I feel that education is very important , I am very involved with the teachers who teach the 3rd and 4th grade curriculum . There is still a lot to be said about how the public schools represents our culture.”

“ I am very excited to be on this commission and acting at the capacity of Secretary .There is a lot of work to be done . I am here to represent my Chumash Heritage and the land of my Ancestors. I am looking forward to working with staff and the other commissioners to see that we educate the public and help preserve our sacred sites.

Tumamait-Stenslie fills the position vacated by Fawn Morris, a Yurok Indian from Northern California.

Panhe Saved

Department of Commerce Rules on Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Consistency Appeal

December 18, 2008

The Department of Commerce today upheld the California Coastal Commission’s objection to a proposal to construct a 16-mile toll road connecting California state Route 241 to Interstate 5 in southern Orange and northern San Diego counties.

The commission objected to the proposed project under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act on the grounds that the toll road was not consistent with the state’s coastal zone management program. Under the CZMA, federal agencies may not issue any permits required for a project if a state has objected, unless the Department of Commerce, on appeal, overrides the objection.

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency appealed the commission’s objection to the Department of Commerce in February, triggering an administrative review process that involved written briefs and arguments by the parties, input from interested federal agencies, tens of thousands of written comments from the public, and a 10-hour public hearing in San Diego County.

Under the CZMA, the department may override an objection only if no reasonable alternative to the project exists and the proposal is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA, or if the project is necessary in the interest of national security. The department determined that there is at least one reasonable alternative to the project. The department also found that the project is not necessary in the interest of national security.

TCA may pursue another route for its proposed toll road that the commission determines is consistent with California’s coastal zone management program, and TCA is not limited to the alternative proposal described in the department’s decision.

Since the enactment of the CZMA in 1972, the department has acted on 43 appeals, upholding 29 objections by state agencies and overriding 14.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

Acjachemen Sacred Site Panhe Saved!

U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SAYS TOLL ROAD NOT IN NATIONAL INTEREST

PANHE, San Clemente, CA—Members of the Acjachemen Nation, the United Coalition to Protect Panhe (UCPP), and our allies in the environmental and social justice movements celebrate a tremendous victory today. The Native American sacred site Panhe and San Onofre State Park will remain protected thanks to a decision from the U.S. Department of Commerce issued earlier this morning. The Secretary of Commerce upheld the California Coastal Commission decision regarding the Transportation Corridor Agency’s proposal to build a six-lane toll road in a popular state park and camp ground and of the most historically significant sacred sites of the Acjachemen people.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude today. I am grateful for the support of UCPP members and our allies. This victory would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of our tribal community members, Tribal Nations, and our allies such as The City Project, the Sierra Club, California State Parks Foundation and others,” said Rebecca Robles, UCPP co-founder and co-director.

Angela Mooney D’Arcy, co-director for UCPP said, “Today is a significant day for Panhe, the Ancestors, the Acjachemen people, San Onofre, and the millions of people who enjoy this state park and camp ground every year. However, this process is not over. On behalf of the United Coalition to Protect Panhe, we call upon the TCA to suspend all litigation and federal lobbying activities and instead focus its resources on studying reasonable alternatives to the toll road.”

Louis Robles, Jr., Acjachemen tribal member said of the decision, “The voices of our Ancestors have been heard. This is an incredible victory for Panhe and for Indigenous peoples everywhere.”

California Supports Winnemem Wintu Tribe

Senate passes Joint Resolution urging restoration of federal recognition status

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe drew one step closer to righting years of historic wrongs today. The Senate passed a Joint Resolution urging the federal government to restore federal recognition status to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The resolution, authored by Assembly Member Huffman, passed with 24 votes.

“California has sent a clear message today: our state stands in solidarity with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to correct a terrible injustice by the federal government,” said Assemblymember Jared Huffman. “It’s not time for the federal government to acknowledge its mistake and once again recognize the Tribe.”

The Winnemem were mysteriously dropped from the list of federally recognized Tribes in the 1980’s. For years, the Winnemem received benefits from the federal government, such as housing and educational assistance. They abruptly stopped receiving benefits, ending access to local healthcare, housing assistance, and cutting families off from scholarships they had only years before used to pursue college degrees. To this day, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has failed to provide an adequate explanation for what happened.

“This resolution is long-overdue. For years, we have struggled to maintain our traditions on our own,” explained Caleen Sisk-Franco, leader of the Winnemem. “Recognition would enable us to maintain our spiritual lifeways, get our youth scholarships and healthcare. To have the State of California declare their support for us sends a message that we are no longer alone on this issue.”

The Winnemem are a traditional, non-gaming Tribe from Northern California. They have been unable to get a clear answer as to why the federal government stopped recognizing the Tribe, and the resolution will aid the Tribe in rectifying the historic injustice. The Winnemem Wintu, together with and the Natural Resource Defense Council and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, introduced AJR 39 in 2007. The Resolution documents the state of California’s long history with the Winnemem Wintu and urges the Federal government to fix an incomprehensible mistake that has drastically impacted the Tribe.

State agencies and many other organizations maintain relationships with the Tribe, but recognition can only be granted by the federal government. The Native American Heritage Commission lists the Winnemem as a California Tribe. Agencies such as the California Department of Fish and Game hold Memorandums of Understanding with the Tribe. Even federal agencies maintain a relationship with the Winnemem; the Tribe has legal agreements with the U.S. Forest Service, and their leaders receives religious protections and rights only guaranteed to Tribes under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

“We will be taking this resolution to Washington D.C. We hope it will be impetus for our Congressional representatives to help us,” said Mark Franco, headman of the Winnemem. “Recognition impacts our very survival as a people. California is in danger of losing a part of its cultural heritage if we do not act on this now.”

The resolution comes at a particularly important time for the Winnemem. The US Bureau of Reclamation is investigating the possibility of increasing the size of the Shasta Dam, which would flood the Winnemem’s few remaining sacred sites and ancestral lands. Recognition would force the Bureau to negotiate directly with the Tribe throughout this process.

The vote today signaled the growing support for the Tribe and the overwhelming need to address this long-standing inequity. The resolution will now be memorialized in federal Congress as a permanent statement on the California Legislature’s support for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.


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