AB 52 Factsheet (part 2)
The New Definition of “Tribe” Creates an Inverse Relationship between Capacity and Resource Allocation
Although all Tribes face difficulties in terms of preserving cultural sites, in general, federally recognized Tribes operate at a far greater capacity than unrecognized Tribes when it comes to tribal efforts to protect cultural, historic, and sacred places. Despite this well-established reality, AB 52 would direct all capacity- building resources toward federally recognized Tribes.
AB 52 does not just provide greater support for federally recognized Tribes, it makes things more difficult for unrecognized Tribes in California by excluding over 70 Tribal Nations from the process. While it does not prohibit lead agency consultation with unrecognized Tribes, it does not require consultation, or even notice, to unrecognized Tribe, thus placing an additional burden on already over-burdened and under- resourced Tribes to convince agencies that they are worthy of consultation.
AB 52 Would Violate the Religious Freedoms of Unrecognized Tribes Due to its Failure to Protect the Sensitive Nature of Information about Sacred Places and Burial Grounds
In California and throughout the nation, Native American artifacts, cultural sites, burial grounds, ancestral
remains, and associated funerary items have been subjected to multiple and sustained acts of desecration
and looting. As a result of this sordid history, under current state (Public Records Act) and federal
(Freedom of Information Act) law, information obtained during tribal consultations is exempt from
disclosure to the public. AB 52 eliminates this protection in Section 11(b), which states:
This act does not prohibit any Native American tribe or nonfederally recognized tribe from participating in the California Environmental Quality Act on any issue of concern as an interested person, citizen, or member of the public.
By reducing representatives of unrecognized Tribes to “interested person, citizen, or member of the public” AB 52 removes the current level of protection afforded to unrecognized Tribes in terms of protecting the confidential nature ofsensitive information related to our sacred places and burial grounds, which is a clear violation of our First Amendment rights.
1 AB 52 would amend the California Public Resources Code Section 5097.94 by adding (m) which directs the California Native American Heritage Commission to: “provide each Native American tribe, as defined in Section 21073, on or before July 1, 2016, with a list of all public agencies that may be a lead agency pursuant to Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) within the geographic area with which the tribe is traditionally and culturally affiliated, the contact information of those public agencies, and information on how the tribe may request the public agency to notify the tribe of projects within the jurisdiction of those public agencies for the purposes of requesting consultation pursuant to Section 21080.3.1.