On May 13, 2019, the LA County Chief Sustainability Office, Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, and Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples co-hosted a Tribal & Indigenous Communities Convening to provide input on the County’s first Sustainability Plan.
After providing an overview of the OurCounty planning process and contents of the Discussion Draft, the convening turned to feedback and key recommendations that included:
Elevating indigenous history, people, and their rights
- The OurCounty document should acknowledge the government’s role/ responsibility for the loss, trauma, displacement and disconnection experienced by indigenous people (example: Coastal Conservation EJ Guidelines)
- OurCounty should acknowledge tribal sovereignty and raise awareness of the official consultation process that is required for land use planning, for example through employee training
- The County should adopt a formal land acknowledgement and systematize the practice; in Sustainability Plan, include land acknowledgement and do not locate tribes in the past
- To counteract governmental efforts to erase indigenous history and identity, the County should acknowledge the role of the Native American Indian Commission in the Sustainability Plan and should put more people with native ancestry in positions with decision-making power
- Policies and programs that make resources available to disadvantaged communities and populations often exclude California Native American Tribes and indigenous groups by virtue of how the target populations are identified or the resources are disseminated. The County must avoid excluding these groups in the future.
- When referencing tribal and indigenous communities, the County should use consistent terminology that doesn’t make these communities or their members ineligible for grant opportunities or other resources. It is important to consistently use inclusive language.
Honoring indigenous communities’ relationship with the environment
- In order to integrate the environmental management practices of indigenous people into County-supported efforts, it would be helpful to create an inventory of those practices
- County-supported habitat restoration efforts should be required to consult tribal groups
- The County should create a mechanism for citizens of California Native American Tribes on the contact list for LA County to gain free access to County-owned land for traditional practices such as harvesting and gathering; fees for things like parking or gathering should be waived.
- Native American and Indigenous Populations are often excluded from, or overlooked in standard operating procedures
- Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples are undercounted because surveys and government documents rarely include mechanisms for documenting ancestry or tribal affiliation (as distinct from race).
- Programs that allocate resources according to the levels of need among multiple sub-populations and communities often overlook Native Americans and Indigenous populations because they don’t fit neatly into any racial or geographic categories. Levels of need are usually ascertained from surveys and government documents, and those levels aren’t even known for Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples because of “statistical insignificance.”
- Because Native Americans and Indigenous populations are undercounted and are geographically dispersed, research and assessments usually fail to document trends in their outcomes and needs.
County services and programs
- The County should fund an assessment to get a better picture of the overall needs of California Native American Tribes with ancestral territories in L.A. County and Indigenous communities based in LA.
- To counteract low average education and employment levels among indigenous groups, the County should dedicate more educational and workforce development resources (such as scholarships) to them
- Tribal-owned businesses should be eligible for SBE designation, and the County should offer trainings to get these businesses registered as vendors
Comments on the key recommendations can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more in the Tribal and Indigenous Communities Convening Notes
Download the Discussion Draft