May 11, 2022
RE: Support for AB 1703 (Ramos)
Dear California State Assembly and Assembly Committees.
I am writing on behalf of Inland Action to express our support for AB 1703, which would encourage school districts to collaborate with tribes in improving their curriculum. While current curriculum is taught it is often inaccurate and misleading; strong, positive interactions between schools and tribes is the first step in creating a more relevant and accurate curriculum for all California students.
California lacks high quality curriculum materials that highlight the history, culture, and government of local tribes. Although California students are instructed in Native American history, concerns remain about how this instruction is developed and offered. Concerns of this kind are regularly expressed about “mission projects” completed by the students during the 3rd and/or 4th grade. The mission era of Spanish occupation was perhaps the most devastating and sensitive period in the history of California’s native peoples and the lasting impact of that period is lost by the current curriculum. This ignores and overlooks the experiences of California Indians before, during and after the mission era and Spanish occupation.
So few people understand the diversity of California’s first people; they speak different languages, use different musical instruments, practice different customs and traditions. Few know that many tribes were wiped out or almost eliminated during the 1800s. This bill would establish the California Indian Education Act and encourage school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to form California Indian Education Task Forces with California tribes local to their regions or tribes historically located in the region.
It is for these reasons that we support AB 1703. This bill will be a first step toward increasing student knowledge, culturally competent curriculum and awareness about the history and culture of tribes residing in the state. We appreciate Assemblymember Ramos’ continued support of the Native people of California.
Carole Beswick, CEO