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Rose's Reflections: California Truth & Healing Council



chiin tha ‘eh haametgii. (how are you relatives?) My name is Rose Hammock, and I am the Community Relations Manager for Redbud Resource Group!


On June 30, 2023 I attended an in-person convening of the California Truth & Healing Council. This convening was held at the California State University, Sacramento. To learn more about the council and my experience, continue scrolling to read more!

Photo of myself at the end of our in-person convening for the California Truth & Healing Council on June 30, 2023.


Photo for the California Truth & Healing Council's website, which is linked at the end of this blog.


What is the California Truth & Healing Council?


Through Executive Order N-15-19, Governor Gavin Newson has created The California Truth and Healing Council. The California Truth and Healing Council serves as a space for recording, examining, and bearing witness to California Native American narratives based upon the relationships between California Native peoples and the State of California.


This council is led and convened by Governor Newsom’s Tribal Advisor, Christina Snider-Ashtari, as well as a governing council of California Native American leaders. This council may also include additional California Native American Tribes, and relevant state and local agencies.


The council aims to create a partnership with California Native American Tribes to develop an official report that will accurately and respectfully reflect the immense Tribal diversity we have here in California.


As you can see on this map provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we have incredible Tribal diversity here in the State of California. Although this is a good map to reference, it just barely scratches the surface. Building relationships and getting out into our Tribal communities is where the stories, histories, songs, dances, and hope are present.



What Are Some Pros and Cons to the California Truth & Healing Council?


There is much to consider when listening to the stories, first hand experiences, and Tribal knowledge and histories when engaging in these listening sessions and convenings.


Here are some pros and cons that stood out to me during our convening at the California State University, Sacramento, which sits on the traditional homelands of the Maidu, Miwok, and Nisenan peoples of that area:


Photos of some of the community members who spoke and shared stories during our in-person convening for the California Truth & Healing Council on June 30, 2023.

​Pros:

  • We had a local elder open and close our convening traditionally, sharing song and prayer from these homelands.

  • Priority for commenting/ sharing went first, to the local Tribal people in the room.

  • We had elders and adults in the room at all levels of understanding around different topics, so it made our conversations more engaging and interactive.

  • There was a counselor on-hand during our convening, to serve the purpose of helping anyone who may have felt triggered during any of our conversations.

  • We had space for asking questions, making comments, and got to stay after the convening was over to speak more one-on-one with some of the main speakers.

Cons:

  • There were no Native youth present to be able to engage in the conversations or ask questions .

  • It is not clear how the State of California is going to hold itself accountable moving forward - What are the next steps?

  • Although the 3 hours for our convening was rich with conversation, I would have preferred a longer day - if not a 2-day convening.



Photo of our in-person convening for the California Truth & Healing Council on June 30, 2023.


What Issues Are Arising Across Native California?


In a room of Tribal leaders, elders, and community, I feel that we all share many of the same concerns, worries, and hardships. In our convening, concerns around our future generations seemed to ring true for many of us: higher education, blood quantum, Tribal enrollment, etc. One topic of discussion though, was around the dynamics of being a Native American staff person in the college and university school systems.


Despite many California Native American people we know who hold Bachelor's and Master's degrees, we observe a lack of representation in positions where they rightfully belong, such as teaching in an ethnic studies department. Instead, what we witness are non-Native people assuming these roles and attempting to educate others about our culture, history, traditions, and so forth.


... we have been trying to get a stockpile of Native faculty so that we won’t be the only voice anymore… I’ve been here 25 years and there haven’t really been a lot of Native people who want to stand up and say something. ” - Annette Reed, Ph.D. and Department Chair of Ethnic Studies, College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies at the California State University Sacramento.


Numerous community members agreed that our colleges and universities should be held accountable for the absence of a system or "pipeline" enabling Native people in California to access careers as health workers, mental health professionals, PhD candidates, and more. Representation holds significance, and our California Native American youth deserve a readily accessible higher education environment with unwavering support.


Photo of me and my dad at the end of the in-person convening for the California Truth & Healing Council on June 30, 2023.


What does the California Truth & Healing Council mean to me?


I sat with and reflected on the words our elders shared about our Native youth in our communities. We are in a continuous cycle of violence and our Tribal communities are struggling to find space to come together to not only grieve, but to start the healing. In our community we call this kind of work “harm reduction,” and at the crux of that message is that our Culture is Prevention!


So to me, these listening sessions give us that opportunity to connect with our elders, our relatives, other Tribal communities, grieve, laugh, cry, ask questions, and you walk away feeling more hopeful than when you arrived. As a California Native woman, I carry my ancestors with me every day - we are walking ceremony, holding our cultural lifeways of song, prayers, dance, and language. I know wherever I walk in this life, I have 7 generations of elders, teachers, and knowledge keepers that guide me to live a good path in my life and to always carry the intentions of serving my Tribal community in whatever capacity they need me. Here’s to the next 7 generations to come after me.


To learn more about the California Truth & Healing Council, you can visit their website, and see a list of upcoming convenings that may be in your area, recordings of past listening sessions, and more!


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