If we’re going to make reparations to native Californians, we have to do it right

Gavin Newsom, James Ramos
Gov. Gavin Newsom bows his head as Assemblyman James Ramos of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians opens a meeting with tribal leaders June 18 at the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: Regarding the issue of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s formal apology to native Californians, there is a concern by the Gabrielino/Tongva, the Juaneño/Acjachemen and other tribal groups, who are not recognized by the federal government because of the disruption caused by the Spanish mission system, the appropriation of lands during the Mexican rancho period, and outright genocide perpetrated by white Americans.

Their concern: If the state’s apology turns out to be more than a “nice, if overdue, gesture,” they will once again be left out.

If there is to be a “Truth and Healing Council” and formal repatriations, they should include the non-federally-recognized tribes, not just those fortunate enough not to have been forced to lose both their lands and cultural traditions.

Patricia Martz, Irvine



To the editor: I recently returned from a five-week trip to South Africa. That beleaguered country has something to teach us about apologizing to horribly mistreated classes of people.

Information on the history, causes and effects of apartheid are accessible at many sites, the story told with stunning bluntness and candor.

Nelson Mandela, by all accounts, was responsible for the healing of that nation. But he was helped by a population willing to face the terrible wrongs of the past and move forward together. This must have required of every citizen acts of supreme selflessness.


In South Africa, the past is not hidden or forgotten, nor does it poison the future.

Norah McMeeking, Santa Barbara


To the editor: If California were running for the Democratic presidential nomination, it would be considered dead on arrival because of its racist history. But, look at us today: we’re the guiding light of all things good and liberal.

People change. Social mores evolve. Pendulums swing.

I hope that American voters will consider that when they begin their serious evaluation of the people running for president. Solid modern foundations can be built on historic land.

Barry Davis, Agoura Hills

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook


Get our weekly Opinion newsletter