CNIGA Leader Applauds Governor Signing Bill to Help Protect Indian Sacred Sites

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CNIGA Leader Applauds Governor Signing Bill to Help Protect Indian Sacred Sites

October 1, 2004

The chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) today applauded Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of a bill that will improve communications between municipal and California tribal governments and help preserve ancient Indian sacred sites, burial grounds and archaeological sites.

Anthony Miranda said it was encouraging to have the governor and both parties in the Legislature work together to enact a bill that is so important to the state’s 107 federally recognized tribes.

“This bill by no means addresses all our concerns,” he said, “but developing a system whereby tribes and local governments more closely communicate with one another to identify sacred sites at the earliest possible stage is a critical first step.”

“We’re talking about the burial grounds of our ancestors or sites that carry religious significance to Indian people,” he said. “We would hope everyone would understand why we care so deeply about protecting such places.”

A key provision of the bill, which will take effect January 1, 2005, requires local governments to consult with an affected California Indian tribe prior to the adoption or update of local General Plans or Specific Plans. Other provisions make tribes eligible to acquire and hold conservation easements and to allow burial grounds, sacred sites and archaeological sites to be eligible for inclusion in local designated “open space” areas.

The bill, SB 18, was approved by the Assembly 68 to 4 on August 9 with members of both parties speaking on behalf of the legislation. The Senate then passed the bill 30 to 4 before it was sent to Gov. Schwarzenegger.

“California tribes owe a special debt of gratitude to retiring Sen. John Burton and his staff who shepherded the bill through the legislative process,” Miranda said. The CNIGA chair also thanked a score of tribal representatives from around the state who worked with the Legislature during the last year to craft a bill that would be acceptable to the varied interests affected.

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