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GBLA Resource Tool: The Sovereignty Spectrum

“ We have been able to restore a significant part of our culture, to our coastline… When we got back the land for the Kashia Coastal Reserve, we get to be restored to our coast… landback takes on so many different emotions… healing to a person, and the culture.” - Reno Franklin, Chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians

Redbud Resource Group had the privilege of hosting a conversation with Chairman Franklin, a longtime Chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of Stewarts Point Rancheria, to share insight into the effective advocacy, environmental, and cultural revitalization work California Tribes are implementing in their ancestral homelands. Chairman Franklin shared how his Tribal community has formed partnerships with non-Native allies, and the status of their projects since acquiring some of their ancestral land back. 

Throughout this conversation, we pose the question: “How can tribes leverage relationships with the government and non-Native groups to heal and protect their ancestral lands?” 

“Our partnerships have morphed from helping us get the land, to helping us manage the land, to now helping us understand what’s underneath the water when we’re doing our environmental testing…Kashia is really good at letting people know where their place is working with us.”  - Reno Franklin, Chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians

Utilizing Redbud’s Sovereignty Spectrum tool, we discuss ways that non-Native entities can partner, negotiate, and transfer resources to Tribes in a way that respects and strengthens the sovereignty of Tribal Nations. 

“Is my work Sovereignty Strengthening, or does it weaken or ignore Tribal Sovereignty? We want everyone to get grounded in a tool we have here at Redbud Resource Group called the Sovereignty Spectrum. The Sovereignty Spectrum tool is a tool that helps organizations understand (whether or not) their actions, decision-making, program offering, etc. are actually going to empower a Tribal community’s ability to govern themselves and their own resources. This tool is subjective and may change over time. 

Sovereignty Weakening: These actions actively diminish a tribe’s rights to make decisions for itself and protect resources. (i.e. The placement of a dam)

Sovereignty Ignoring: These are actions that ignore the existence, input, or needs of a Native community. 

(i.e. Not engaging in Tribal consultation that is going to impact a Tribe)

Sovereignty Strengthening: These are actions that actively improve a Tribe’s ability to make decisions for itself and control its own resources. (i.e. Engaging in active, continuous consultation)

Chairman Franklin has helped pass important Executive Orders known as 30x30 and the America the Beautiful Initiative.

In addition to 30x30 and the America the Beautiful Initiative is the Tribal Nature-Based Solution Grant Program. This grant program is part of a first-in-the-nation effort to address historical wrongs committed against California Native American tribes. Governor Newsom announced in April of 2024 that the state has awarded more than $100 million for 33 tribal land projects.  

Following up from Mr. Franklin’s thoughts on Indigenous Knowledge, look back at the Sovereignty Spectrum tool and take a minute to reflect on the idea of Sovereignty Strengthening. Think about what you do for work and what your job position is - are you being mindful of the local Tribes and their input? In your work, you may be on different levels of this spectrum when doing things like consultation or engaging in partnerships. There are plentiful resources, guides, and tools that can direct you in the right direction to be in meaningful consultation that upholds Tribal sovereignty. 

To learn more about the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians and their landback process, you can view the recording of this important conversation with Chairman Reno Franklin, also available on our Website and YouTube channel

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