Reexamining Our Past

At this important moment when our country is grappling with important issues regarding race and culture, it is incumbent upon California State Parks to take stock of and critically reexamine our past, looking specifically at contested place names, monuments, and interpretation in our State Parks. Based on data collected during a brief survey of park units in June 2020, it is clear that State Parks must act to further identify and remove residual derogatory place names; inappropriate honorifics associated with the historical legacy of some of its monuments, statues and plaques; and inadequate interpretive programs or exhibits that fall short in fully contextualizing California’s history in parks. This effort will require public transparency with the process that includes a more comprehensive survey, analysis, and prioritization of the work ahead.

State Parks’s Tribal Affairs Program will assist with the identification and redress of discriminatory names of concern to California Native American tribes. There also will be opportunities for the public to participate in and comment on the department's efforts. Working with community partners and universities is foundational to ensure that State Parks’ educational programs and exhibits support public educational standards and are grounded in contemporary research methodology. Individuals interested in subscribing to updates on this important effort are asked to email the department at planning@parks.ca.gov.

This webpage will be updated with new information as it becomes available. 


 

The State Addresses Discriminatory Names and Inequities

Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, State Parks Director Armando Quintero and Department of Transportation Director Toks Omishakin announced a series of actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the state parks and transportation systems.  The move comes in the wake of a national conversation about the names of geographic features and builds upon Governor Gavin Newsom’s work to support equity, inclusion and accountability throughout the state to better reflect our values. These steps also dovetail with several policies advanced by Governor Newsom that seek to examine and address historic wrongs and promote access and inclusion for California Native peoples. 

Tribal membersGold Miners at Spanish Flat circa 1852. Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California.

Announcements

Map of the Sacramento Valley Railroad : from the city of Sacramento to the crossing of American River at Negro Bar, Sac. Co

State Parks is seeking public input on a new name for Negro Bar, located within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, that will honor the contributions of African American miners at this historic site, while still remaining culturally appropriate.  Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/NegroBar.

Santa Cruz Mission

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park released a statement acknowledging the impact of the mission on California Native American people and their commitment to creating a more welcoming and healing space. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/SantaCruzMission

Sutter's Fort

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park released a statement acknowledging the fort’s role in sharing an unbalanced perspective of the 19th century and their commitment to working with California Native Americans to tell the whole story. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/SuttersFortHistory

Photo of the Founders Tree in Humboldt Redwoods SP

Humboldt Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks have added new interpretive signage regarding the racist legacy of some of the parks’ founding members that are currently honored in the parks’ redwood groves. These panels are just the first step in the Department’s effort to redress this issue in these two parks. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/FoundersGrove.