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Assemblyman Says Local Tribes Will Help Design Native American Memorial At State Capitol

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new way to honor Native Americans is on its way to the California State Capitol.

One year after the statue of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra was toppled, Gov, Gavin Newsom signed legislation paving the way for a memorial in honor of those he's accused of oppressing.

"They enslaved many of our people. There's documents that said people were shackled and chained during that era if they weren't compliant. Now it's a chance to get that told by the American people," said Assemblyman James Ramos.

Ramos, who is a member of a local tribe, sponsored the memorial legislation. He said the Native American voice was absent when many of these statues were going up in the sixties. And now, local tribes will be part of the dialogue.

"Now it's the Miwok people of the Sacramento area that will be giving options to the legislature of what should replace Junipero Serra," Ramos said.

Serra's legacy is controversial. Historians say many of the Native Americans working at his missions were beaten and abused. However, the Diocese of Sacramento describes Serra as a priest who worked to protect the dignity of the American people. The Diocese described the toppling of the statue as vandalism.

The new legislation also makes clear: A statue of Junipero Serra will never return to the State Capitol.

There's still a lot of planning that needs to happen, so it will be a while before we see construction. Local tribes need to get their plans approved by the joint rules committee before they can break ground.

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