New fund promotes reparations for Native Americans in California

The Decolonizing Wealth Project, an organization run by Indigenous and Black people, will distribute $500,000 to California’s Indigenous communities and nonprofits.

CALIFORNIA, USA — This story was originally published by CalMatters.

A racial equity organization announces a new fund that will help Native American communities preserve tribal history and continue California’s efforts to atone for its history of violence and wrongdoing against Native Americans.

The Decolonizing Wealth Project, an organization run by Indigenous and Black people, will distribute $500,000 to California’s Indigenous communities and nonprofits. It’s to support storytelling and healing, said Carlos Rojas Alvarez, director of executive affairs and strategic initiative.

The money comes from the California Endowment, the Christensen Fund and the fund supporting the New York-based Decolonizing Wealth Project.

The project partnered with the California Truth & Healing Council, which Governor Gavin Newsom established in 2019, he said, to “clarify the record — and provide their historical perspective — on the troubled relationship between tribes and the state”.

The Council on Truth & Healing is expected to release a report on the state’s historic relationship with California’s Native Americans by 2025. It may include recommendations to the Legislature regarding land reparations or restoration for Native communities .

“California must take our dark history into account,” Newsom said at the time. “We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the people who once lived in this land we now call California…but we can work together to build bridges, speak the truth about our past, and begin to heal deep wounds.”

The first such council in the nation, it is made up of 12 members of Native tribes from across the state and is led by state Tribal Councilor Christina Snider, a lawyer and member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. .

Newsom, in his executive order, issued a formal apology for the state’s history of violence and disenfranchisement of Native Americans. He referred to the Indian Government and Protection Act of 1850, which removed Indigenous peoples from their lands and legalized family separation and enslavement.

Now, the Wealth Decolonization Project has set itself the goal of “promoting Indigenous history and personal stories as truth and recording history, which clarifies and corrects the historical record we have at this time. “, Alvarez said.

He added that the group hopes to raise more than $5 million to provide grants to Indigenous communities across the state. Among other things, the funds would be used to digitize tribal oral histories and document the loss of tribal lands for research purposes and for Land Back initiatives, a Native-led movement to return land to original stewards.

“We really hope it reaches Native American communities, tribes and families directly,” he said. “This may include a request for transportation, accommodation, childcare, meeting space, or any other barriers they may face in engaging in this important process.”

Indigenous tribes and nonprofits can begin applying for grants of $5,000 to $50,000 in two rounds, in July and October, Alvarez said.

“We believe we have a unique and historic opportunity, given that California is a state that is leading the way in truth and healing with Indigenous communities,” he said.

“We hope that not only will a rich and diverse group of Native American communities in California engage with and shape the process – including the recommendations that come out of it – but that they will have the resources to do so. Hopefully this will be a catalyst for truth and healing processes across the country. »

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media company explaining California policies and politics.

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