California Gov. Gavin Newsom has apologized to Native Americans for the “violence, maltreatment and neglect" Native Americans in that state have suffered, adding that it's time for California to reckon with its history.
"It is called a genocide. That's what it was," he said of the violence Tuesday. "No other way to describe it and that's the way it needs to be described in the history books.
"And so I'm here to say the following: I'm sorry on behalf of the state of California," he continued.
Speaking to over 100 tribal leaders, Newsom also announced the creation of a "Truth and Healing Council," which will be tasked with providing Native American narratives for inclusion in existing documentation and records in an effort to "clarify the historical record" of the relationship between California and the states' Native American tribes.
"That with your permission we can convene to begin to tell more stories, tell more truth, and to share those stories and that truth in a way that can create a truly historical construct that does justice to the pursuit of truth and reconciliation," Newsom said.
The California governor spoke at the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento.
"It's humbling for me, having believed I was educated, to have been so ignorant of our past, to have been so unaware of how ashamed I should be, as a Californian, 5th generation," Newsom said about past violence directed at Native Americans.
"I'm sorry that we've had generations of your kids and grandkids, your ancestors, that have had to suffer through indignities, lack of capacity, empathy and understanding," he added.
Tribal leaders at the event were thankful for the acknowledgment and appreciated the apology from Newsom, but noted that they will continue to monitor whether the governor will follow through with what he's promised.
Erica Pinto, chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village of California, said she greatly appreciated the governor's remarks.
"I want to thank you for what you said today, but most of all I want to thank our ancestors who possessed that strength, who possessed that resilience," she said.
"It's healing to hear your words, but actions will speak for themselves," she continued.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Genocide': California governor apologizes to Native Americans for past violence