SACRAMENTO—California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) today announced formation of the California Native American Legislative Caucus. Ramos will lead the new group.

“I feel a solemn obligation as the first California Native American legislator in the state’s 170-year history to advocate for California’s first people and to be that voice that has been absent in the many  policy discussions that have shaped the state,” Ramos said. “The California Native American Legislative Caucus will focus on issues facing the California Indian People and on increasing their representation in the political system.”

“I am pleased to announce the creation of the California Native American Legislative Caucus,” Rendon said. “It will be charged with increasing awareness and education in the Legislature about the culture, history and impact of various social issues on our state’s Native Americans. Its membership will set out goals and work with other legislative caucuses to ensure all Californians have a voice in the Capitol’s chambers.”

Rendon observed the state’s first Legislature met on December 15, 1949: “California now rightfully takes pride in our diversity and how that is reflected in our Legislature, but it was not until 2018 and the election of Assemblymember Ramos that a California Native American served in either the Assembly or Senate. It took too long.”

Ramos is a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe and a lifelong resident of the San Manuel Indian Reservation. In 1866, his great-great grandfather, Santos Manuel, led his people to safety in the San Bernardino Mountains to escape militias hunting and killing Indians for state-paid bounty money. His family, the Yuhaviatam (People of the Pines), was decimated and dwindled down to less than 30 members. “We were almost wiped of this earth because of a policy of genocide initiated by California’s first governor, Peter Burnett,” Ramos said.