Competing bills would change UC Hastings’ name, only one gives Yuki tribal members a say
Competing bills in the state legislature promise to strike the name of Serranus Hastings from the UC Hastings College of the Law and solidify other forms of reconciliation for the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Mendocino County.
Both bills seek to address the role the San Francisco college’s founder played in the genocide of Yuki Indians, the original inhabitants of Round Valley and whose ancestors were killed in a massacre spearheaded by Hastings.
The Assembly bill commits to tribal cooperation and a name change with input from the afflicted tribe ― the Yuki people ― the Senate bill simply strips out the Hastings name making it “College of the Law.”
The bills come after four years of discussions between the college and the Round Valley Tribal Council, which is made up of six tribes including the Yuki.
The Assembly bill, AB-1936, introduced by Assembly members James C. Ramos, D-Highland and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would compel cooperation among the college, Yuki tribal members and the Round Valley Tribal Council to decide on the name.
It would also address an official apology from the college and the Hastings family, and other forms of restorative justice.
Ramos said reporting by The Press Democrat in January about how the Yuki were sidelined and overlooked in the reckoning with Hastings’ legacy compelled him to reach out to Yuki tribal members to craft legislation that would amplify their voices.
“It's time that the California Indian people's voices are at the table to discuss and attest to the historical trauma that has been inflicted upon the California people,” Ramos said.
The competing Senate bill envisions a much different process. It requires no consultation with Yuki tribal members and details none of the restitution outlined in Ramos’ Assembly bill — a conflict called out by the state’s Legislative Council, a nonpartisan public agency.
The Senate bill is authored by Sen. Tom Umberg, D—Santa Ana, a UC Hastings graduate, who says the college’s future name is critical to recruitment and to its reputation. He stopped short of saying in a recent interview the tribe’s suggestions have not been satisfactory.