Honoring the first Californians

California is one of the richest states in the nation because of the culture, heritage and diversity of its many federally recognized tribes. From the Kumeyaay in San Diego to the Serrano in San Bernardino to the Yurok in the Klamath Basin, the indigenous people of California each have a diverse and peaceful existence that has lasted for many thousands of years. Today there are more than 100 recognized tribes in California; more than any other state in the nation.

An acknowledgment of the California Indians came in 1968 when Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution calling for the fourth Friday of each September to be American Indian Day. It was hoped that this acknowledgment would help to inform the general public about Indian heritage and the problems that are confronted by Indians in California.

For years, California tribes celebrated the fourth Friday of September by renewing their ties to the Earth and keeping alive the ways of their ancestors. It was in 1998 when the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill No. 1953 (Baca), establishing the day as an official day of education. Today, people of all ages celebrate California Native American Day by learning more about the culture, heritage and traditions of the California Indian.