This week in California, state lawmakers broke ground on a statue of Miwok cultural leader and dancer Bill Franklin.
It’s located at the state’s Capitol Park where a statue of a Catholic missionary once stood.
Christina Aanestad reports.
California tribes and state lawmakers gathered at the Capitol Park in Sacramento for the ground breaking of a statute paying tribute to a Northern California Miwok Tribe.
The new statue will replace a monument of Junípero Serra, who founded the mission system in California that enslaved Native Americans.
It was torn down in 2020.
Assemblyman James Ramos is the only Native American in the state legislature.
“We can now commit ourselves to changing the why behind shameful history, that needs to come forward. A shameful history that needs to be taught in history books, attested to in the college system. But, also we need to make sure that we lift up our elders and our ancestors and resilience that runs deep within us to make sure their voices always being heard because that’s the reason we’re here today.”
In Southeast Alaska Monday, a number of Native organizations celebrated Walter Soboleff Day.
The Lingít leader was born on November 14th, 1908 and was the first Alaska Native person to be ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian church.
He lived to be 102.
Sealaska Heritage Institute observed his birthday with a panel discussion in Juneau about the Presbyterian church’s decision to close Soboleff’s church in 1963.
After the church was torn down, services moved to the Northern Light United Presbyterian Church, which had a mostly White congregation.
Soboleff, who gave sermons in his Native language, grieved quietly and never spoke out against the church.
Earlier this year, the Native ministries committee from Northern Light successfully petitioned national Presbyterian leaders to make a formal apology.
But Myra Munson, an attorney who worked with the group, fought for more than an apology.
“If that’s all it is, does it mean anything?”
In a recent agreement, the church will receive a million dollars over the coming years to make reparations, money that will be spent to promote healing and education about the harm racism causes.
Rosita Worl, president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, thanked the Native Ministries Committee for their work.
“I know that this story, the story of Dr. Soboleff, the things that happened to him and what you have done to rectify those wrongs, will be living on through our children as they learn about our history. Gunalchéesh.”
As part of the reparations, the church has also been renamed, Kunéix Hídi, which means House of Healing.
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