Tribal Governments Gain Equality Regarding Surplus Lands

Sacramento– Today, Assembly Republican Whip, Devon J. Mathis (R-Porterville), announced that Governor Newsom signed his bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1180, into law over the weekend. This bill adds federally recognized California Indian Tribes to the list of local, state, or federal agencies who are offered a right of first refusal when purchasing surplus lands from a local agency.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled to have lead this effort to provide a fair and meaningful opportunity that allows federally recognized tribes to purchase and regain culturally and historically significant lands,” said Mathis. “By giving California tribes the opportunity to acquire surplus lands, AB 1180 offers some measure of recompense for the great ‘land grab’ of the late 1800s, when tribes relinquished vast territories to the United States in exchange for peace, pursuant to treaties negotiated but not honored.”

“Federally-recognized California Indian Tribes have been excluded from many state laws that create opportunities for tribes to collaborate with nearby local governments,” said William Garfield, Chairman of the Tule River Indian Tribe. “Adding tribes to the California Surplus Land Act is an important step toward respecting the sovereignty of tribal governments, and it will facilitate joint planning between tribes and local governments that will improve local communities for all people.”

AB 1180 is sponsored by the Tule River Indian Tribe, and has received formal support from multiple federally recognized tribes, including the Barona Band of Mission Indians, the Jamul Indian Village of California, the Tejon Indian Tribe and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, as well as the City of Porterville. The bill received unanimous, bipartisan support throughout the entire legislative process.

“It is crucial for our state to come together to acknowledge and learn from the mistakes of our past,” said Mathis. “AB 1180 recognizes and addresses the States’ history and policy towards tribal land and the significance that they have to our State’s many indigenous groups. Moving forward, it is important that we, as a nation, continue enacting legislation that seeks to make our federally recognized tribes whole and ensure the preservation of their culture.”