California State Assemblymember James C. Ramos, Serrano/Cahuilla, (D-40th District), spoke to California Native American youth on the first virtual gathering expressing the importance of the 2020 Census. We welcomed over 400 views on day two of the gathering on the Native People Count California Facebook page.
In his welcoming remarks, Assemblymember Ramos offered a Cahuilla song gifted to him to share during public events. His voice shared thousands of years of ancestral teachings that reminded Native youth to be proud of who you are as a Native person and to share the value of being counted in the 2020 Census.
“The Census is about who we are as California Native American people. California has the largest population of Native Americans than in any other state in the nation,” Ramos said.
Assemblymember Ramos addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the U.S. Census count. “Many gatherings are being postponed, and door-to-door canvassing has been curtailed, so now we have to be even more engaged to move forward. That’s why it’s important for us to be able to count our youth and to count all those in Indian Country. Native Americans best tell our history throughout the state of California.”
“We need to make sure our federal and state funding gets to where it needs to be. In addition to funding programs in health care, housing, public safety, and education, there is a need for cultural preservation and repatriation of Native American remains,” Ramos added.
Assemblymember Ramos encouraged the youth participants and all Native Americans to engage in the Census. “Our history needs to be told by us, and we need to make sure our voice is heard. But it starts by making sure we are counted. I encourage all of our youth and Indian people to engage in the Census, to be counted because we’re Indian, and the Native voice needs to be heard. It starts with the Census.”
Assemblymember Ramos is the first California Native American to be voted into the state Legislature. He is the Chair of the Select Committee on Native American Affairs and formerly served as the Chairman of the San Manuel Mission Band of Indians. Assemblymember Ramos is deeply engaged in getting a Native Complete Count in California and also serves on the Census Committee.
Following the assemblymember’s remarks, Dante Martinez, Coast Miwok of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, offered the keynote address to the Native youth participants.
Martinez spoke about leadership and its many different forms and urged the participants to look at their deepest desires, what they are passionate about, what gifts and abilities they have, and what they dream of becoming. These are the markers of natural leaders.
He concluded by saying, “I want to challenge you all to take healthy risks. I challenge you to build yourself up as leaders, and I challenge you to look deeply into yourself.”
A passionate national youth facilitator and athlete, Martinez attends Santa Rosa Junior College. He hopes to create opportunities for his peers and Native youth through community engagement.
After the plenary session, Native youth participants teamed back up with their artists for coaching on their art projects, reflecting the 2020 Census’s significance.
This event, sponsored by the Native People Count California and the Center for Native American Youth, will wrap up Sunday. Native youth participants will share original pieces of art they created across all mediums with their peers after the gathering.
Check back on the Native People Count California social media channels for the final works of art!
Native People Count California is the official California complete count – Census 2020 tribal media outreach campaign. Launched in January 2020 – the Native People Count CA campaign is a collaboration between the Governor’s Office of the Tribal Advisor, the California Complete Count – Census 2020 office, and Tribal Media Outreach Partners NUNA Consulting Group, LLC, California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc. (CIMC), and the California Native Vote Project (CANVP). Native People Count CA was created with the belief that the 2020 Census is an integral piece to upholding the fiduciary responsibility by the United States federal government to Tribes and its delegated authority to state and local governments.