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Statement Concerning California Senate Candidates From Democratic Party Native American Caucus Chairwoman Mary Ann Andreas, Vice Chairman Andrew Maisel and Board Members

The California Democratic Party Native American Caucus has deep concerns regarding the actions of both declared candidates running for Senate in California.  

We are dismayed by the lack of sensitivity to tribal issues and to Native Americans as individuals that we see in our announced candidates. Their comments and actions provide little assurance that they grasp the government-to-government relationship guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.  

In the case of U.S. Representative and candidate Loretta Sanchez, her recent comments and mimicking of a cliché Indian war cry can only be described as insensitive and insulting. The remarks were made at a private meeting not a Native American Caucus event as reported by members of the media. However, these comments coming from a longtime friend makes it doubly difficult.  

In the case of candidate Kamala Harris, she has chosen to ignore the federal policy and legal findings of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Interior in a case concerning California lands held by the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT). Despite existing federal policy, without any effort to discuss the issue with CRIT and without concern to the facts, Attorney General Harris filed an amicus brief supporting an individual trespassing on tribal lands who refused to pay rent to the tribe. This person is suing the tribe because he was evicted from the land on which he was squatting.  

California has benefitted from the presence and activism of Senator Barbara Boxer in her distinguished career in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The interests of all Californians, especially Native Americans, have been well served by her genuine efforts to learn about the first Americans and then to fight for their basic rights of self governance and self determination.  

We are disappointed in the apparent lack of sensitivity and awareness that our current Senate candidates have for Native Americans. We extend an invitation to both Ms. Sanchez and Ms. Harris to personally meet with our California Native American Caucus and tribal leaders. They both should treat this as a learning opportunity and begin learning our history, our cultures and our issues. Without such an effort, we cannot expect informed decision-making and fair representation.

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