(January 20, 2023) — At a January 11th meeting in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker Emerita committed her support to helping the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe secure the reaffirmation of it’s federal status. The Tribe was unambiguously previously recognized by the federal government and has never been terminated by an act of Congress, which is the only lawful way to terminate a Tribe.
Just months ago, a federal district court judge in the Northern District of California found that the Tribe retains its sovereign immunity despite not being on the Bureau of Indian Affairs list of recognized Tribes.
Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh is optimistic about Pelosi’s commitment to assist the Tribe in articulating it’s case to the Congress and the Administration. Speaker Pelosi is particularly concerned with the Tribe’s ability to protect itself from gentrification — which presents an existential threat to the Tribe, whose young people are being pushed from their Bay Area homeland.
Over the course of her two-week congressional tour, Nijmeh met with members of both political parties.
“We are extremely grateful for Speaker Emerita Pelosi’s commitment supporting the reaffirmation of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s federal status—and deeply appreciative of Congressman Jay Obernolte as well. The bipartisan reception of the Tribe on Capitol Hill over the past two weeks has been nothing short of beautiful,” the Chairwoman explains. “This is a non-partisan issue.”
The Tribe is publicly committing to continue its advocacy and coalition building campaign to secure legislative action.
“What a remarkable trip. The Chairwoman now has bipartisan backing from leaders who understand the time is now for Justice for Muwekma,” Jonathan Lockwood, the Tribe’s spokesperson explains. “All eyes will be on our Bay Area delegation to sponsor legislation that not just gets the job done, but gets the job done well and delivers on justice in innovative ways.”
The burial remains of more than 12,000 dead Muwekma ancestors are currently stored at the University of California at Berkeley, in addition to tens of thousands of antiquities, that cannot be legally repatriated to the Tribe until its federal status is restored.