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Dear <<First Name>>,

In 2017, I led the Los Angeles City Council in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, a long-overdue acknowledgment and recognition of the original inhabitants of our land.

Today, as Los Angeles observes its fourth annual Indigenous Peoples Day, I was also proud to announce the “Indigenous LAnd Initiative,” a transformative set of policies that will place Native American communities at the center of decision-making on issues related to our history and future in Los Angeles.

The “Indigenous LAnd Initiative” will include:

1. A formal apology from the City of Los Angeles to Native American Tribes
Earlier this year, I introduced a motion initiating this process, which included direct feedback and collaboration from local Native American leaders. This week at City Council, I will introduce a Resolution containing a formal, detailed apology to Native American Tribes from the City of Los Angeles.

2. The renaming of certain landmarks and places within the City
As the City evaluates its historical treatment toward Native Americans, and works to update its current and future policies, today Mayor Garcetti and I announced that the City will review how we refer appropriately to certain, sometimes sacred places - beginning with Father Serra Park in downtown Los Angeles.

The Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners will be directed to rename Father Serra Park, in collaboration with local tribal communities.

3. A new policy direction regarding land taken from Native Americans
As the Americas were colonized, Indigenous peoples were systematically and forcibly removed from their ancestral lands, or enslaved, including here in Los Angeles. 

Today, Mayor Garcetti and I announced that the City will begin implementing a new policy regarding land taken from Native Americans that takes into account this terrible legacy, beginning with the establishment of an Indigenous Cultural Easement at Father Serra Park.

4. An initiative to update the City’s seal and flag to include representation of local Tribes and Indigenous Americans
The City’s current official seal was adopted by the Los Angeles City Council on March 27, 1905. The official City flag was designed and presented by the La Fiesta Association for the City's 150th birthday on July 22, 1931.

The coat of arms in the center of the seal displays images representing four different phases of the City's history: 
  • The first quarter displays the stars and stripes of the American flag, signifying Los Angeles' status as a city of the United States since 1848. 
  • The second quarter displays the grizzly bear embedded in the flag of California, signifying Los Angeles' history as part of the California Republic from 1846 to 1848. 
  • The third quarter displays the eagle holding a serpent from Mexico's coat of arms, representing Mexican rule from 1822 to 1846. 
  • The fourth quarter displays the “Castile” and "León" from Spain's coat of arms, representing Spanish colonial rule from 1781 to 1821. 
The coat of arms is surrounded by images of olives, grapes, and oranges representing the three major crops of early Los Angeles. The fruits are surrounded by a 77-bead rosary representing the role played by the Spanish missions in California, beginning in the late 19th century.

The flag shows the official City seal in the center with a background of vertical zigzag stripes of green, gold, and red, representing the major California crops. The green represents olive trees, the gold represents orange groves, and the red represents vineyards. The colors of the flag are also found on the flags of Spain and Mexico, representing the two nations that ruled the area before it became part of the United States. 

Neither the seal nor the flag acknowledge the thousands of years of history or the Indigenous societies that existed prior to the arrival of Europeans.

This week, I will introduce a motion that seeks to change the City’s seal and flag to include visual representation of Los Angeles’ first peoples. Input from Angelenos will be sought as part of this process.

5. An initiative to rename the "Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway" with an Indigenous name that reflects knowledge, respect, and inclusion
Part of the 10 freeway is named after Christopher Columbus, who did not “discover” America and who never set foot in what is now the United States. Over the course of four voyages to the Americas, Columbus and his mercenaries set the stage for centuries of genocide across the Western Hemisphere. 
 
This week, I will introduce a Resolution that calls on the Federal and State governments to rename the “Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway” with an Indigenous name that reflects a future of acknowledgement, peace, respect and inclusion.
 
I want to thank Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Kevin de León, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Gabrieleno/Tongva Band of Mission Indians, and Chrissie Castro, chair of the Los Angeles City and County Native American Indian Commission, for joining me at today's historic announcement, and for their partnership as we move forward on these actions.
 
With deep pride, I wish you a very meaningful Indigeneous Peoples Day: a time of reflection and celebration of Native, Indigenous history and culture - and I encourage you to stay connected with my office so you can receive updates as this important work moves forward.
 
With kind regards,

MITCH O'FARRELL

 
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