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What is California Native American Day?

Started in 1939 by then-Gov. Culbert Olson, “Indian Day” evolved into California Native American Day in 1968.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, is being celebrated as the 55th Annual California Native American Day, but what is California Native American Day and why do we celebrate it?

Brief history

According to californianativeamericanday.com, it started in 1939 by then-Governor Culbert Olson. "Indian Day" evolved into California Native American Day in 1968 thanks to then-Governor Ronald Reagan and California Tribal Leaders.

In Aug. 2021, Assemblymember James C. Ramos authored AB 855, which looked to designate the fourth Friday of September as an official judicial holiday in recognition of California Native American Day.  The bill went through both the state assembly and senate, and became law in Sept. 2021.

Purpose of California Native American Day

In a brief post on its website, Nativeamericanday.org summed it up by saying, "The goal of California Native American Day is to promote awareness and appreciation of California’s Native Americans. To help educate surrounding communities about the history and culture of Indigenous People."

The 55th Annual California Native American Day

Friday's event was held at the West Steps of the State Capitol Building. There were a number of speakers including Assemblymember James C. Ramos, Tribal Affairs Secretary for the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs Christina Snider, and a number of local and state tribal leaders.

There were also performances from tribes that included Intertribal Bird Singers & Dancers, Karuk Tribe Traditional Dancers, and Chumash Tribal Singers.

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