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About the NAHC

Commissioners

Effective -10/18/2019

Laura Miranda, Chairperson

Deputy General Counsel, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians (Temecula)
Tribal Affiliation: Luiseño

Commissioner Miranda

Commission Chairperson Laura Y. Miranda is a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. Commissioner Miranda received her Juris Doctor  degree from Cornell Law School and her Bacherlor’s of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to joining the Pechanga Tribe’s Office of the General Counsel, CommissionerMiranda was a founding partner of Miranda, Tomaras & Ogas, LLP, and Directing Attorney at California Indian Legal Services. At California Indian Legal Services, Commissioner Miranda’s legal practice focused on assisting Tribes with protecting and preserving their cultural resources, sacred resources, and Native American human remains utilizing federal and state environmental laws and historic preservation laws. Her interest in such issues began as a student at UCLA where she helped organize community efforts to urge the University of California to repatriate Native American human remains and sacred items to culturally affiliated Indian Tribes.

Commissioner Miranda’s accomplishments include legislative work on cultural resources protection laws, including the AB 52 amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act, and the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act sponsored by Assemblyman Darryl Steinberg and introduced by Senator John Burton. Commissioner Miranda has been successful in negotiating numerous agreements and settlements on behalf of Tribes with local government agencies and land developers concerning adequate protections for cultural resources and Native American human remains. Commissioner Miranda has given numerous presentations on cultural resources protection to Tribes, government organizations, universities, and interested organizations and has testified on cultural resources protection issues at federal, state, and local hearings.

As Deputy General Counsel for the Pechanga Tribe, Commissioner Miranda’s work focused on cultural resources protection and other tribal issues. Commissioner Miranda is one of the elected representatives on behalf of the Pechanga Tribe to the Luiseño/Cupeño Inter-Tribal NAGPRA Coalition (LINC), a coalition of Luiseño tribes charged with repatriation of tribal cultural resources. Commissioner Miranda is also a board member of the Riverside County Tribal Traditional Resources Advisory Committee.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner Miranda as a public member to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 9, 2007.

Reginald Pagaling, Vice Chairperson

Tribal Elder, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Tribal Affiliation: Chumash

Commissioner and NAHC Vice Chairperson Reginald Pagaling is an enrolled member of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and a tribal elder. He has devoted his time to re-establishing the traditional maritime culture of the Tribe since 1996 and has also served as chairman of the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee of Santa Barbara County since 2010. Pagaling was tribal education program coordinator for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians from 1993 to 1996. He was public relations manager for the Chumash Casino Resort from 1991 to 1993 and was cultural resources coordinator and Native American monitor for the Tribal Elders Council of Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians from 1988 to 1990. Pagaling built the Tomol “Muptami of Kalawashaq,” a traditional Chumash plank canoe, and co-organizes the annual Tomol crossing from Channel Islands Harbor to Santa Cruz Island. Pagaling is a member of the Chumash Maritime Association.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Pagaling as a tribal elder to the Native American Heritage Commission on March 26, 2013.

Merri Lopez-Keifer, Secretary

[Rev Fri 4/5/2019 1:03 AM]

Chief Legal Counsel, San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians
Tribal Affiliation: Luiseno

Commissioner Merri Lopez-Keifer, NAHC SecretaryCommissioner and NAHC Secretary Merri  Lopez-Keifer is a member of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians.  Commissioner Lopez-Keifer graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Art’s degree in Law and Society, with special emphasis in Criminal Justice.  She earned her Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School and became a member of the California State Bar Association in 1998. Commissioner Lopez-Keifer began her legal career first as an attorney with Karshmer & Associates in Berkeley, CA, a law firm committed to Native American tribal government self-determination and providing Native American tribes and tribal organizations with the highest quality of legal services. Later, when an opportunity to become an Assistant District Attorney with the City and County of San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office was presented, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer seized the opportunity and was a dedicated trial litigator for the District Attorney’s Office for six years. As an Assistant District Attorney, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer was passionate, fair-minded and effective prosecutor who specialized in domestic violence prosecutions. Since her admission to the California State Bar, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer has also been the Chief Legal Counsel for the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. For the past decade, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer has focused her legal skills in ardently and efficaciously advocating for the protection and preservation of her tribe’s Native American tribal cultural resources, sacred places and burial grounds. Commissioner Lopez-Keifer has also been instrumental in building and maintaining meaningful relationships with local, state, and federal government agencies within her tribe’s traditionally and culturally affiliated territory on behalf of her tribe. In her role as San Luis Rey’s Chief Legal Counsel, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer has successfully conducted hundreds of government-to-government consultations with CEQA lead agencies, local governments, state government agencies, and federal government agencies.

Commissioner Lopez-Keifer has been a keen educator and contributing panelist for many trainings and seminars on how to effectively and respectfully consult with California Native American tribes for organizations including the California State Bar Association- Environmental Law Section, the American Planning Association of California, the California Historic Society, the California Preservation Foundation, CLE International, the Bar Association of San Francisco- Environmental Law Section of, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, CalTrans, the Society for California Archaeology, the California Indian Lawyers Association, and the Association of Environmental Professionals.  Commissioner Lopez-Keifer was also given the esteemed honor of presenting the keynote address for the 31st Annual California Indian Conference held at San Diego State University in 2016.

In 2017, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer served as an Advisory Committee Member for the development of the National Indian Justice Center’s Tribal Consultation Tookit, an educational tool for tribes that consists of a sample consultation protocol template, a sample consultation flow chart, and a list of best practices for consultation.

In 2019, Commissioner Lopez-Keifer began serving as the Vice-Chairperson to the University of California, Office of the President’s inaugural Native American Advisory Council in her capacity as a member of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Lopez-Keifer as a public member to the Native American Heritage Commission on June 1, 2015.

 

Russell Attebery, Parliamentarian

Chairman, Karuk Tribe
Tribal Affiliation: Karuk

Commissioner and NAHC Parliamentarian, Russell Attebery has been Council Chairman of the Karuk Tribe of California since 2012. He was a teacher and athletic director at Happy Camp High School from 2009 to 2012, substitute teacher for Shasta County Schools from 2003 to 2008, and quality control supervisor and sawyer at Sierra Pacific Industries from 1982 to 2003. Commissioner Attebery is a member of the American Professional Baseball Association.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Attebery as a public member to the Native American Heritage Commission on May 21, 2014.

 

 

 

William “Bill” Mungary, Commissioner and Chairman Emeritus

Director of Kern County Community Development Program, retired (Bakersfield)
Tribal Affiliation: Paiute/White Mountain Apache

Commissioner Mungary

Commissioner William (Bill) Mungary retired as the Director of the Community Development Program, Resource Management Agency of Kern County, a position he held for over 30 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Master’s in Business Administration in General Management from the University of California at Los Angeles. He served in the US Air Force and achieved the rank of Captain.

Commissioner Mungary is on the Board of Directors of the National Association for County Community and Economic Development and is a founding member of the American Indian Council of Central California, Inc., the California Association for Local Economic Development, and the Native American Heritage Preservation Council of Kern County, where he served on the Board of Directors from 1991-1995. He was a member of the Cultural Resources and Economic Development Committees of the federalAdvisory Council on California Indian Policy and of the Committee on Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Implementation for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. In March of 1995, Governor Wilson appointed CommissionerMungary to serve as a member of the California Rural Development Council.

Governor George Deukmejian appointed Commissioner William (Bill) Mungary as a public member to the Native American Heritage Commission on December 22, 1987. CommissionerMungary served as the NAHC Chairperson from 1990-2008.

Marshall McKay, Commissioner

Former Chairman, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (Brooks)
Tribal Cultural Affiliation: Wintun

Commissioner McKay

Commissioner McKay is Chairman Emeritus of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. He began his career in tribal government in 1984 and served as Chairman for three terms.

Born in Colusa, California, Commissioner McKay grew up in Brooks near his present-day home in the Yocha Dehe tribal community. After attending Sonoma State University,, Commissioner McKay worked in management for the United States Navy and retired as a nuclear refueling manager.

A cornerstone of his leadership is his commitment to cultural renewal and preservation, a focus he extends into education programs and sustainable land-use practices. Commissioner McKay is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Native arts and culture, the affirmation of sovereign tribal governance, and the international effort to protect the rights of all indigenous people.

Commissioner McKay oversees the day-to-day operations of the tribal government, the Tribe’s Cache Creek Casino Resort, and its other business endeavors. He also serves as chair of the Tribe’s Community Fund Board and Cache Creek Casino Resort Board, and is a member of the Fire Commission, Cultural Resources Committee, Property, Farm and Ranch Committee, Maintenance and Operations Committee, the Health and Wellness Committee, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Academy Board. Prior to being elected Chairman, he served as Tribal Treasurer and Tribal Secretary.

Commissioner McKay is a board member of the UC Davis Foundation, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the Native American Rights Fund. He is a founding member and chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation and also serves as chairman of the board of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner McKay as an elder to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 14, 2007.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. reappointed Commissioner McKay  as an elder to the Native American Heritage Commission on May 8, 2013.

Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Commissioner

Chairperson, Barbareno/Ventureno Band of Mission Indians (Ojai)
Tribal Affiliation: Chumash

Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie

Commissioner Julie Tumamait-Stenslie is the Chairperson of the Barbareño /Ventureño Band of Mission Indians. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie is a respected elder, singer, storyteller, and Cultural Resource Consultant/Advisor. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie a member of the Board of Trustees for the Ojai Valley Historical Society and Museum, the Board of Trustees and the California Indian Advisory Committee for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Committee on the “Repatriation” of Native American ceremonial artifacts. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie currently serves on the Ojai Valley Museum Board of Trustees as well as the Oakbrook Chumash Interpretative Center Board. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie has served as a consultant for Chumash Cultural Services since 1985.

Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie is an artist who uses native materials to create her jewelry, musical instruments, and basketry. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie continues to practice and teach her native language.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie as a traditional person to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 8, 2007.

 

Joseph Myers, Commissioner

Executive Director, National Indian Justice Center
Tribal Affiliation: Pomo

Commissioner Joseph Myers has been the Executive Director of the National Indian Justice Center since 1983. He earned his bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley..  Commissioner Myers served as the associate director of the American Indian Lawyer Training Program, creating and managing its tribal court advocate training project.  Commissioner Myers has contributed significantly to the improvement of justice in Indian country. For the past 15 years he has lectured in Native American Studies at UC Berkeley. In 1993, Mr. Myers received national recognition from Attorney General Janet Reno for his work on behalf of victims of crime in Indian country.  Mr. Myers has received numerous awards, including the 2002 California Peace Prize from The California Wellness Foundation and the 2010 Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from UC Berkeley. Additionally, Mr. Myers is a founder and board member of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center. Since 2002 he has served as Chairperson of CALTRANS Native American Advisory Committee.  Because of Commissioner Myers’ extensive service to Indian County, the University of California, Berkeley name the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues in his honor.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Myers as an elder to the Native American Heritage Commission on June 1, 2015.


Executive Leadership

Christina Snider, Executive Secretary

Native American Heritage Commission AND
Governor’s Tribal Advisor, Office of the Governor
Tribal Affiliation: Pomo

Christina SniderChristina Snider, of Healdsburg, has been appointed Governor’s Tribal Advisor and executive secretary to the Native American Heritage Commission. Governor Brown established the position of Governor’s Tribal Advisor by executive order to bolster communication and collaboration between California state government and Native American Tribes. Snider is a member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians and has served as an Indian Child Welfare Act representative for the Tribe since 2017. She was of counsel at Ceiba Legal LLP from 2016 to 2017, staff attorney at the National Congress of American Indians from 2015 to 2016, a legal fellow at the Wishtoyo Foundation in 2014 and a law clerk in the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. Snider is a member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians Housing Advisory Committee and the California Indian Law Association. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.


Past NAHC Executive Secretaries and Commissioners

Past NAHC Executive Secretaries (In alphabetical order)

Loretta Allen
Paul Gary Beck
Cynthia Gomez
Larry Myers
William J. Pink
Stephen Rios

Past NAHC Commissioners (In alphabetical order)

Abby Abinanti
Edward Albert, Jr.
Doreen Bellas
Carol Bowen
George Brown
William Callaway
Edward D. Castillo
Patricia E. Duro
William Franklin
Wanda Lee Graves
Priscilla Hunter
Vince Ibanez
Jay Johnson
Dorothy Joseph
Walt Lara, Sr.
Leslie Lohse
Mabel McKay
Milton Marks
Richard Milanovich
Fawn Morris
Nadine Naylor
Jane Penn
James Ramos
Anthony Risling
Katherine Saubel
John Seepe
Jill Sherman-Warne
Grant Smith
Joseph H. Strauss
Clifford E. Trafzer
Talbert Wilson


The NAHC’s Powers and Duties

[Wed 3/27/2019 5:09 PM]

The Native American Heritage Commission’s powers and duties are enumerated in Public Resources Code section 5097.94:

The commission shall have the following powers and duties:

(a) To identify and catalog places of special religious or social significance to Native Americans, and known graves and cemeteries of Native Americans on private lands. The identification and cataloguing of known graves and cemeteries shall be completed on or before January 1, 1984. The commission shall notify landowners on whose property the graves and cemeteries are determined to exist, and shall identify the Native American group most likely descended from those Native Americans who may be interred on the property.

(b) To make recommendations relative to Native American sacred places that are located on private lands, are inaccessible to Native Americans, and have cultural significance to Native Americans for acquisition by the state or other public agencies for the purpose of facilitating or assuring access thereto by Native Americans.

(c) To make recommendations to the Legislature relative to procedures that will voluntarily encourage private property owners to preserve and protect sacred places in a natural state and to allow appropriate access to Native American religionists for ceremonial or spiritual activities.

(d) To appoint necessary clerical staff.

(e) To accept grants or donations, real or in kind, to carry out the purposes of this chapter and the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 2001 (Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 8010) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Health and Safety Code).

(f) To make recommendations to the Director of Parks and Recreation and the California Arts Council relative to the California State Indian Museum and other Indian matters touched upon by department programs.

(g) To bring an action to prevent severe and irreparable damage to, or assure appropriate access for Native Americans to, a Native American sanctified cemetery, place of worship, religious or ceremonial site, or sacred shrine located on public property, pursuant to Section 5097.97. If the court finds that severe and irreparable damage will occur or that appropriate access will be denied, and appropriate mitigation measures are not available, it shall issue an injunction, unless it finds, on clear and convincing evidence, that the public interest and necessity require otherwise. The Attorney General shall represent the commission and the state in litigation concerning affairs of the commission, unless the Attorney General has determined to represent the agency against whom the commission’s action is directed, in which case the commission shall be authorized to employ other counsel. In an action to enforce this subdivision the commission shall introduce evidence showing that a cemetery, place, site, or shrine has been historically regarded as a sacred or sanctified place by Native American people and represents a place of unique historical and cultural significance to an Indian tribe or community.

(h) To request and utilize the advice and service of all federal, state, local, and regional agencies, including for purposes of carrying out the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 2001 (Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 8010) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Health and Safety Code).

(i) To assist Native Americans in obtaining appropriate access to sacred places that are located on public lands for ceremonial or spiritual activities.

(j) To assist state agencies in any negotiations with agencies of the federal government for the protection of Native American sacred places that are located on federal lands.

(k)(1) To mediate, upon application of either of the parties, disputes arising between landowners and known descendants relating to the treatment and disposition of Native American human burials, skeletal remains, and items associated with Native American burials.

(2) The agreements shall provide protection to Native American human burials and skeletal remains from vandalism and inadvertent destruction and provide for sensitive treatment and disposition of Native American burials, skeletal remains, and associated grave goods consistent with the planned use of, or the approved project on, the land.

(l) To assist interested landowners in developing agreements with appropriate Native American groups for treating or disposing, with appropriate dignity, of the human remains and any items associated with Native American burials.

(m) To provide each California Native American tribe, as defined in Section 21073, on or before July 1, 2016, with a list of all public agencies that may be a lead agency pursuant to Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) within the geographic area with which the tribe is traditionally and culturally affiliated, the contact information of those public agencies, and information on how the tribe may request the public agency to notify the tribe of projects within the jurisdiction of those public agencies for the purposes of requesting consultation pursuant to Section 21080.3.1.

(n)(1) To assume the powers and duties of the former Repatriation Oversight Commission and meet, when necessary and at least quarterly, to perform the following duties:

(A) Order the repatriation of human remains and cultural items in accordance with the act.

(B) Establish mediation procedures and, upon the application of the parties involved, mediate disputes among tribes and museums and agencies relating to the disposition of human remains and cultural items. The commission shall have the power of subpoena for purposes of discovery and may impose civil penalties against any agency or museum that intentionally or willfully fails to comply with the act. Members of the commission and commission staff shall receive training in mediation for purposes of this subparagraph. The commission may delegate its responsibility to mediate disputes to a certified mediator or commission staff.

(C) Establish and maintain an Internet Web site for communication among tribes and museums and agencies.

(D) Upon the request of tribes or museums and agencies, analyze and make decisions regarding providing financial assistance to aid in specific repatriation activities.

(E) Make recommendations to the Legislature to assist tribes in obtaining the dedication of appropriate state lands for the purposes of reinterment of human remains and cultural items.

(F)(i) Prepare and submit to the Legislature an annual report detailing commission activities, disbursement of funds, and dispute resolutions relating to the repatriation activities under the act.

(ii) A report submitted to the Legislature pursuant to this subparagraph shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

(G) Refer any known noncompliance with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 3001 et seq.) to the United States Attorney General and the Secretary of the Interior.

(H) Impose administrative civil penalties pursuant to Section 8029 of the Health and Safety Code against an agency or museum that is determined by the commission to have violated the act.

(I) Establish those rules and regulations the commission determines to be necessary for the administration of the act.

(2) For purposes of this subdivision, the following terms have the following meanings:

(A) “Act” means the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 8010) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Health and Safety Code).

(B) “Tribe” means a “California Indian tribe” as that term is used in the act.

(o)(1) To establish and assess a fee on a person or public or private entity that is reasonably related to the cost of conducting a search of catalogs, described in subdivision (a), inventories, described in Section 5097.96, or lists, described in Section 21073, for that person or entity, which funds shall be available to the commission upon appropriation by the Legislature.

(2) The Legislature finds that, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution, the fees established pursuant to paragraph (1) are not taxes. To the extent that these fees are appropriated through the Budget Act for the purposes for which they are collected to provide services to the people of the State of California, the Legislature finds that these fees are not subject to Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

(p) Review and provide comment and guidance on all policies and procedures proposed pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 8025) of Chapter 5 of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Health and Safety Code.


The NAHC’s Tribal Consultation and Contact Lists and Laws That Utilize Them

Text here


Native American Heritage Commission Milestones

[revised Fri 3/29/2019 3:55 PM]

1963 Legislative Findings on California Native American Culture
The California Legislature recognized that California Indian culture was neither sufficiently understood nor adequately chronicled and that it could never be reproduced nor replaced. The Legislature requested that archaeological sites be reported to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

1971 Recommendation That a Native American Heritage Agency Be Created
A report by a State agency exposed a serious problem with the State’s archaeological records and recommended the creation of a Native American heritage agency.

1975 DQ University Conference
A conference of Native Americans at DQ University was held to discuss Native American heritage concerns. These concerns were the impetus behind AB 4239, which created the Native American Heritage Commission.

1976 AB 4239 (Knox) The Native American Heritage Commission
AB 4239 created the Native American Heritage Commission to protect and ensure continued access to Native American sacred sites, including burials and historic sites on public lands. The Commission was charged with identifying and cataloging Native American sites of special religious or social significance on public lands and making recommendations regarding the protection of and continued accessibility to these sites.

1977 Native American Heritage Commission’s Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony
The inaugural swearing-in ceremony of the Native American Heritage Commission’s first Executive Secretary, Steve Rios, and the Native American Heritage Commissioners was conducted by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

1982 Wana the Bear v. Community Construction 128 Cal.App.3d 536
Wana the Bear, a direct descendant of the Bear People Lodge of the Miwok People, sought reversal of a lower court’s decision that a Native American burial ground was not a cemetery entitled to protection under California cemetery law. The California Third District Court of Appeal affirmed that the burial ground in question was not a public cemetery protected under California law. This case would be the impetus for the Most Likely Descendants statute, Public Resources Code section 5097.98.

1982 SB 297 (Garamendi) Most Likely Descendants Legislation
SB 297, enacted on September 27, 1982, authorized the Native American Heritage Commission to identify Most Likely Descendants (MLDs) of deceased Native Americans whose remains had been inadvertently discovered. SB 297 requires the landowner on whose lands Native American human remains are found to confer with the Most Likely Descendants for the treatment and disposition, with appropriate dignity, of Native American human remains.

Gasquet and Orleans Project (G-O Road Litigation)
The Native American Heritage Commission joined litigation to stop construction of a logging road in the Six Rivers National Forest by the U.S. Forest Service in an area the Yurok, Karuk, and Tolowa people hold sacred. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that construction of the road as planned violated the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit’s decision on First Amendment grounds. Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Ass’n (1988) 485 U.S. 439.

1985 Environmental Protection Information Center v. Johnson (1985) 170 Cal.App.3d 604
The California Third District Court of Appeal held that, under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Native American Heritage Commission is an agency that must be consulted when evaluating projects for their environmental impacts.

1990 People v. Van Horn (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 1378
The California Fourth District Court of Appeal held that Public Resources Code section 5097.99 prohibits the possession of Native American artifacts taken from a Native American grave or cairn unless the possession is in accordance with an agreement between a landowner and appropriate Native American groups or pursuant to a recommendation by the descendants of the deceased Native American.

1993 AB 861 (Knight) Abolishment of the Native American Heritage Commission
This bill was introduced to abolish the Native American Heritage Commission to save the State of California money. Tribes, archaeologists, state agencies, and local agencies supported the Commission by writing letters and providing testimony in opposition to the bill. The bill failed. The Commission prevailed.

1998 The “Save Mount Shasta” Campaign
The Native American Heritage Commission, Tribes, and the “Save Mount Shasta” organization united to protect the Panther Meadow and the Mount Shasta Cosmological District from direct and indirect adverse effects of a proposed ski area development to be located on places of traditional and cultural significance. The U.S. Forest Service rescinded its permit for the ski area largely because of its impacts on Native American traditional use areas.

1999 – 2000 Ishi’s Remains Are Reunited and Repatriated
Ishi was the last reported survivor of the Yahi Native American tribe of California, who were killed in the Three Knolls Massacre. Upon being “discovered” and taken into custody by a local sheriff in 1911, Ishi was studied by anthropologists from and lived in residence at the University of California. Upon his death in 1961, Ishi’s body was cremated but his brain was preserved and sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The Native American Heritage Commission and Tribes advocated for and secured the reunion of Ishi’s cremated and uncremated remains for reburial in the Pit River area.

2001 AB 978 (Steinberg) The California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 2001
The California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 2001 (CalNAGPRA) created a Repatriation Oversight Commission to ensure that all California Native American human remains associated cultural items be treated with dignity and respect and repatriated in accordance with the State’s repatriation policy. The duties of the Repatriation Oversight Commission were assumed by statute by the Native American Heritage Commission in 2015.

2002 SB 1816 (Chesbro) Native American Historic Resource Protection Act
This Act provided for the assessment of penalties and imprisonment for the willful damage of Native American historic, cultural, or sacred sites listed or eligible for listing on the California Register of Historic Resources.

2004 SB 18 (Burton) Tribal Consultation on General Plans, Specific Plans, and Open Space Designations
SB 18 provides that local governments must consult with Tribes on the contact list maintained by the Native American Heritage Commission when adopting or amending general or specific plans or when designating open space that contains protected Native American sites or features.

2005 SB 922 (Ducheny) California Public Records Act Amendments to Prevent Disclosure of Native American Sacred Sites
SB 922 added the Native American Heritage Commission to the Department of Parks and Recreation, the State Historical Resources Commission, and the State Lands Commission as agencies exempt from providing records relating to archaeological sites maintained by those agencies.

2006 AB 2641 (Coto) Amendments to the Most Likely Descendants Statute
AB 2641 amended Public Resources Code section 5097.98 to increase the time from 24 to 48 hours within which Most Likely Descendants must make recommendations for treatment and disposition after having been granted access to a site where Native American human remains are discovered; required a landowner, upon the discovery of Native American human remains, to ensure that the immediate vicinity were the remains are located not be damaged or further disturbed by further development until the landowner has conferred with the Most Likely Descendants regarding treatment and disposition; and authorized the parties to mutually agree to extend discussions, taking into the possibility that additional or multiple Native American human remains are located in the project area as providing a basis for additional treatment measures. The bill stripped out the requirement that landowners file a document titled “Notice of Reinterment” with the county as one of three recording options when the landowner reinter remains on their property because the Most Likely Descendants made no recommendations as to treatment or disposition or the landowner rejected those recommendations. This recording option would be amended back into Public Resources Code section 5097.98 by SB 833 (Committee on Natural Resources and Water) in 2009.

2011 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Signs Executive Order B-10-11, Creating the Position of the Governor’s Tribal Advisor
On September 19, 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr signed Executive Order B-10-11, which created the position of Governor’s Tribal Advisor to oversee and implement effective government-to-government consultation between Governor Brown’s administration and Tribes on policies that affect California tribal communities. Judge Cynthia Gomez was the first person appointed to the newly-created position, serving as both the Governor’s Tribal Advisor and the Executive Secretary for the NAHC.

2014 AB 52 (Gatto) Tribal Consultation and Consideration of Impacts to Tribal Cultural Resources under the California Environmental Quality Act
AB 52 (Gatto) added a new cultural resource, tribal cultural resources, the impacts to which must be considered during the environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). AB 52 also provides for tribal consultation for the consideration of avoidance, preservation in place or mitigation of impacts to tribal cultural resources prior to the issuance of an environmental impact report, negative declaration, or mitigated negative declaration.

2015 SB 83 CalNAGPRA Repatriation Oversight Commission’s Duties and Powers Transferred to the Native American Heritage Commission
SB 83 transferred the authority for implementation and enforcement for the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA) from the Repatriation Oversight Commission, which had never been funded, to the Native American Heritage Commission.

2017 SB 92 Authority to Establish and Assess Fees for Sacred Lands Inventory Lists and Tribal Consultation Lists
SB 92 granted the Native American Heritage Commission authority to establish and assess fees on a person or public or private entity reasonably related to the costs of searching its Sacred Lands Inventory or providing tribal consultation lists in connection with SB 18 and/or AB 52.

2019 AB 2836 (Gloria) Provide Review and Guidance on the University of California’s Repatriation Policies
AB 2836 amended the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA) to require the University of California to develop and implement repatriation policies and procedures in accordance with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. AB 2836 also amended the Native American Heritage Commission’s powers and duties under Public Resources Code section 5097.94 to include reviewing and providing comment and guidance on the repatriation policies and procedures proposed by the University of California in accordance with the CalNAGPRA amendments.


We Are Still Here: The NAHC’s 40th Anniversary Gala

On October 21, 2016, the Native American Heritage Commission celebrated its 40th anniversary at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza in Sacramento. The United Auburn Indian Community provided the opening prayer. The NAHC honored all of California’s Tribes for their work in protecting California Native American cultural resources. UCLA History Professor Benjamin Madley, author of “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe” served as our keynote speaker. NAHC Executive Secretary Cynthia Gomez, NAHC Chairperson James Ramos, NAHC Commissioner and Master of Ceremonies Marshall McKay, Congressman John Garamendi, and Assemblymember Mike Gatto all gave wonderful addresses, and the Chumash Intertribal Singers honored the NAHC and guests with their songs.

The Native American Heritage Commission thanks the following sponsors of its 40th Anniversary Gala:

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
The Ramos Family from San Manuel
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
The Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
The National Indian Justice Center
The United Auburn Indian Community
The California Teachers Association

The Native American Heritage Commission’s 40th Anniversary Gala was funded solely through the generous contributions of its sponsors. Please enjoy a copy of the program and a highlight video from the event.