Home California State Agencies Announce Steps to Address Discriminatory Names, Inequities in State Parks and Transportation System Features

State Agencies Announce Steps to Address Discriminatory Names, Inequities in State Parks and Transportation System Features

by ECT

Broader Representation, Transparency Also Planned for  California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names

SACRAMENTO – California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, State Parks Director Armando Quintero and Department of Transportation Director Toks Omishakin today announced a series of actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems. Agencies also will expand representation and increase transparency around a state committee tasked with recommending changes to geographic names in California.

The moves come in the wake of a national conversation about the names of geographic features, markers and statues affiliated with the Civil War, genocide of Native Americans and other remnants of institutionalized discrimination. Steps announced today dovetail with additional measures announced by Governor Gavin Newsom to mark Native American Day in California following the Governor’s formal apology to Native Americans last year.

“The Governor fundamentally changed the way Californians grapple with the difficult beginnings of this State when he formally apologized to California Native Americans last June,” said Governor’s Tribal Advisor and Executive Secretary to the Native American Heritage Commission Christina Snider. “For California Native Americans who have survived generations of depredations against our very existence, these disparaging and dehumanizing names serve as a constant reminder that we were never intended to be part of the California dream. The leadership of the California Natural Resources Agency and the Department of Transportation in furthering these corrective initiatives demonstrates the State’s real commitment to act on the promise of the Governor’s apology, heal relationships and work to make historically dispossessed communities whole.”

Assembly Member James C. Ramos (D-Highland), the first California Native American elected to the state Legislature, welcomed the announcements.

“Ensuring that state facilities are respectful and inclusive of California’s history and all its people is a much-welcomed step,” Ramos said. “As a Native American, I look forward to the acknowledgement of our presence and culture as well as the education that will occur during a renaming process.”

Secretary Crowfoot said it is past time to revisit historic names that stem from a dark legacy that includes discrimination, violence and inequity.

“Recent protests over racial inequality have spurred a national conversation about institutional and systemic racism in the United States. That conversation includes a new reckoning over monuments, symbols and names found in our public spaces,” Secretary Crowfoot said. “We are committed to continuing this dialogue in an open and transparent way.”

Crowfoot is directing the Natural Resources Agency to expand the membership of the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names (CACGN) by adding members designated by the Native American Heritage Commission, California State Library, California African American Museum, California Department of Transportation as well as the legislative Selective Committee on Native American Affairs and Black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses.

At the same time, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has begun to inventory racist markers and names of features within the State Parks system. State Parks is developing a process to assess the inventory and solicit input on potential name changes. State Parks also is refining plans in consultation with Tribes and other groups to update interpretive signage, exhibits and educational materials for student programs.

“This is a generational moment that calls for the California Department of Parks and Recreation to take stock of and critically examine our state’s historical legacy,” Director Quintero said. “We want every Californian, whether they are first generation or the 500th generation, to feel welcome in parks and see stories shared by all voices.”

As part of today’s announcement, Caltrans will carry out a detailed review of all named assets located on the state transportation system and develop a proposal identifying those to be renamed or rescinded.

“Transportation is meant to bring people together, bridge divides, cross immovable boundaries and connect people from all walks of life,” Director Omishakin said. “Caltrans cannot accomplish this mission without addressing the specter of exclusionary, prejudiced place names located throughout the California State Highway system. While long overdue, the department is honored to stand with the Natural Resources Agency and help facilitate a new legacy celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion.”

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Robert C. Sep 26, 2020 - 7:53 am

And exactly what bureaucrats will make these lofty decisions? Director Omishakin doesn’t even appear to grasp what the fundamental purpose of “transportation” is. Small wonder that CALTRANS is such a bloated mess.

Jeremiah Falwell Sep 26, 2020 - 12:40 pm

Instead of this circle jerk, why not just change the name already? We know which native people lived in each region, change the name and stop all the governmental red tape treading on the people. The natives are in worse living conditions than any other minority group in America because their at the hand of government control. It’s time for the private industry to come in and bring more pride to the native stewards of this beautiful land.

Jg Sep 27, 2020 - 3:21 pm

You cannot please everyone. This is nonsense and the wasted funds can be better used elsewhere. In twenty years the names they choose to replace other names will be offensive to that generation. Do not pander to the small group of nonsense individuals who have no common sense nor knowledge of preserving history. They will change their minds as fast as Harris will overthrow Biden if he wins.

No left turns, vote for safety, education, jobs, and your rights. Vote smart.

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