Governor Gavin Newsom
Sacramento, Calif. — A new proposal from Governor Gavin Newsom would put millions in the hands of native tribes to preserve their ancestral lands.
Newsom offered Friday to give Native American tribes $100 million so they can purchase and preserve nearly a third of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030. It was part of an executive order signed by Newsom in 2020 demanding the importance of reducing the effects of climate change in the state.
“Too often, Native American tribal communities in California are neglected and suffer the worst impacts of climate change,” Governor Newsom said. “The California way is not to hide from our past, but to embrace it with a commitment to build on our values of inclusiveness and fairness for all who call this state home.”
The funding would not work like a traditional California grant program where the state oversees the money. Instead, the tribes would decide where to spend the funds.
“We know that the native peoples of California have always had an interdependent relationship with the land, the waters, everything that makes up the state of California,” Newsom said. “Unfortunately, we also know that the state played a role in the violent disruption of these relationships.”
A growing Land Back movement to return Native American homelands to their descendants is fueling the proposal. In addition to buying land, the tribes could also use the money for programs that address climate change and workforce development.
Overall, tribal leaders in the state welcomed the plans but said a structure for distributing the money would need to be worked out. A major concern is how this would work in practice, especially in situations where tribes have competing claims to the same land. They are concerned that this will complicate decisions regarding the purchase of the land.
These funds are just one component of Newsom’s proposed $286.4 billion budget. The state legislature would have to approve the spending before that happens.