At the recent California Truth and Healing Council meeting, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a budget proposal to establish a $100 million funding opportunity to strengthen partnerships with California Native American tribes to achieve the state’s ambitious climate and conservation goals.
The proposed funding would support tribal initiatives that advance shared climate and biodiversity goals including research, development and implementation of traditional knowledge; workforce training, capacity building and technical support; and tribal nature-based climate conservation programs, among others.
“Too often, California Native American tribal communities are overlooked and suffer many of the worst impacts of climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “The California way is not to hide from our past, but to embrace it with a commitment to build upon our values of inclusiveness and equity for everyone who calls this state home.”
In 2020, Governor Newsom called for accelerated use of nature-based solutions to combat the climate crisis through Executive Order N-82-20. The order called for a cohesive strategy to improve management of the state’s diverse landscapes to protect climate-vulnerable communities, safeguard biodiversity, achieve carbon neutrality, improve public health and safety, and expand economic opportunity.
Two major initiatives were launched as part of this strategy, a major new conservation goal and a first-ever strategy to expand climate-smart land management. The state committed to conserve 30 percent of state lands and coastal waters by 2030, becoming a leader in an international effort referred to as “30X30.”
During public workshops for these initiatives, it was clear that California Native American tribes offered significant solutions and a willingness to partner with the state. State agencies are finalizing a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that will identify the state’s priorities for managing our landscapes to meet California’s ambitious climate goals.
“We heard loud and clear in our consultations with more than 70 different California Native American tribes a strong desire from tribal governments to play a leading role in restoration and conservation efforts that benefit Tribal communities and honor their connections to the lands and waters,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “Tribes also identified a need for capacity building resources to participate more centrally in California’s conservation and climate efforts. This proposed funding can make that collaboration possible.”
Under the Governor’s budget proposal, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) would manage the new tribal funding commitment.
Already this year in related programs, CNRA and its entities have awarded funds to tribes for a wide variety of projects including: The Ocean Protection Council through their Prop. 1 grant program funded $1,276,951 to the Wiyot Tribe for the purchase of 48 acres and restoration of their ancestral land that will also strengthen coastal resiliency in the Humboldt coastline. And $772,602 in youth access grant funds went to the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians, and the Wiyot Tribe.
“As we have heard over the last few days, removing California Native people and practices from the places they have lived and thrived in since time immemorial has had far-reaching negative impacts, including many of the climate challenges we are currently experiencing,” said Governor’s Tribal Advisor Christina Snider. “This proposal, which anticipates a tribally-led and informed process, is a step in the right direction to begin to honor what California Native peoples have been through and respectfully defer to tribal communities as the first people of this place.”
By collaborating with tribes, officials said they will be able to incorporate solutions driven by the first peoples of this state to build a more resilient, equitable, and thriving future for all Californians.