As progress is inevitable, so are the dangers of potential disruption, destruction or desecration of our ancestral lands and sacred sites. Many times, during excavation Native American sacred/burial sites are disturbed and often destroyed. This is devastating and heartbreaking to endure, for we can never undo the desecration. We can only hope to protect and prevent future disturbance of our beloved ancestors and the homelands in which they lived and died. This history is the lifeline between our Ancestors and their living descendants of the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians.
For over twenty years the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians has worked with local, state, and federal agencies doing all possible to help protect and preserve Fernandeño, Tataviam and Vanyume culture and the history of our ancestral lands within LA County and surrounding San Bernardino County. Tribal members of the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians participate directly in this area of cultural preservation once required training and certification is completed.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was enacted on November 16, 1990, to address the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to Native American cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is California's broadest environmental law. CEQA helps to guide the Department during issuance of permits and approval of projects. Courts have interpreted CEQA to afford the fullest protection of the environment within the reasonable scope of the statutes. CEQA applies to all discretionary projects proposed to be conducted or approved by a California public agency, including private projects requiring discretionary government approval. The Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC), created in statute in 1976, is a nine-member body, appointed by the Governor, to identify and catalog cultural resources (i.e., places of special religious or social significance to Native Americans, and known graves and cemeteries of Native Americans on private lands)
The repatriation process is painfully difficult and a time of great sadness for our People. The Elders of our tribe play a very vital role and are actively involved in the decision making for repatriation ceremony. The repatriation ceremony is a very sacred ceremony as our ancestral remains must always be cared for with the utmost respect and dignity as we make every effort to give our ancestors a place of peace once again.
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