A Tribe’s open letter to West Sacramento leaders: Your re-naming plan for Tower Bridge Gateway shows arrogance, historic indifference

Photograph by Craig Patternaude

Dear City of West Sacramento,

Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians is writing to inform you of your failure to notify, consult, and engage with Tribal Nations regarding the renaming of the Tower Bridge Gateway. Your actions for renaming the Tower Bridge Gateway have continually removed Tribal voices and opinions regarding a significant cultural landmark for the people of West Sacramento. The location known as Tower Bridge has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples since time immemorial and is still occupied or visited by Tribal peoples. The Tower Bridge gateway is a shared Tribal Area where Miwok, Nisenan, Putwin, Wintun, and other Tribal groups would gather to trade, interact, and celebrate one another. This area has been, is, and will be held as an important place to the Sacramento Regional Tribes and Native peoples. The lack of consultation and consideration of a Tribal name or language is disrespectful to all. California Executive Order N-15-19 by Governor Newsom apologized for the treatment of Native Californians but this action continues the ethnocide, genocide, and disregard for Tribal peoples.

Within the City’s Street Naming and Renaming Policy Under Street Names -Themes does not include current or living government officials, it does however recommend “West Sacramento Pioneers and Historical Contributors or California Native American Tribes.” There were no correspondences to any Tribal governments, including Yocha Dehe, Buena Vista Rancheria, United Auburn Indian Community, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, and Wilton Rancheria. This is a failure of proper consultation and therefore, you failed to properly notify Tribal Governments. The City’s Street Naming and Renaming Policy requires the “Community Development Department staff will consult affect agencies and departments for their recommendation before preparing a report for the City Council action.” The law also requires consultation with Tribal Nations on areas of significance. The consultation process is not selective, but a requirement by law. The City of West Sacramento recites a land acknowledgement at the beginning of every meeting yet fails to properly consult with Tribes on important matters. Community members have been ignored over and over.

In October 2022, the West Sacramento City Council violated the Brown act and the City’s Street Naming and Renaming Policy by discussing an item identified as “future agenda item” recognition of Christopher Cabaldon and not notifying “at least 10 days prior to consideration of the name change by the City Council.” The October 19th meeting should have triggered a notification sent out to agencies and the public 10 days before the October 19th meeting. The City Staff Report for the November 16th meeting recognized “This item [Renaming of Tower Bridge] was prepared based on unanimous City Council direction from the meeting on October 19, 2022.” There are several issues with this. First, no notification was sent to agencies, property owners, or community organizations prior to the October 19th meeting. Second, no discussion, public input, or notification occurred in the October 19th meeting. Third, the item listed as a future agenda item was discussed and voted on in the October meeting (See Exhibit 3 October 19, 2022 City Council Regular meeting Video file Time 1:40:45 to 1:42:03) additionally should have triggered public comment by the vote. Finally, the City Council then voted on the item again but this time in the form of a resolution, attempting to correct the October Brown Action violation on November 16, 2022. In the November 19th City Council meeting the city staff and city manager stated that “The City’s policy also requires the Community Development Department to consult with affected utilities, government agencies and city departments, as well as providing a ten-day advanced notice of all property owners and residence of the subject street. Community Development staff has conducted the notification and outreach and received no objections or concerns from effected utilities, government agencies, property owners or residences along Tower Bridge gateway.” No outreach, notification, or consultation with the affected Tribes occurred. The City and it’s Community Development Department failed to notify and consult with Tribal Nations.

This failure to consult with Tribes and failure to properly represent the local community including Tribal members who reside in the City goes against the West Sacramento General Plan, the City’s Street Naming and Renaming Policy, and the Land Acknowledgment that is read before all City meetings and disregards the sovereignty of Tribes and the rights of local citizens. With all of the failures listed the only course of action left for the West Sacramento City Council is to restart the process of renaming Tower Bridge Gateway and to properly consult with Tribes and the public.

Respectfully submitted,

Rhonda Morning Star Pope Flores


Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians

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6 Comments on "A Tribe’s open letter to West Sacramento leaders: Your re-naming plan for Tower Bridge Gateway shows arrogance, historic indifference"

  1. Seriously? Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

  2. This is ridiculous, what does she ACTUALLY want? There are so many other things that they should be worried about, like how about all the people sleeping under the bridge? Im sure that the natives did a lot of trading up and down all Rivers….most people do gather around water… I always assumed it was named tower bridge because it was partially funded by Tower Records before its collapse. Like Raley field, or Sleeptrain arena right?

  3. Freddie M. Negrete | September 15, 2023 at 7:15 am | Reply

    My,my,my. How the Liberals really think of American Indians. Wasn’t Cal.much better in Conservative hands ? It’s like saying, NOT IN MY BACKYARD.I COULD DO WHAT EVER I WANT TO.
    Under Jerry Brown and Newsom California has gone down. What was Newsom unforgettable words” YOU HAVEN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!”

  4. She does have a point about the City violating the open meeting Brown Act. The City needs to restart the renaming process by giving lawful public notice. To all of the Tribe critics, it’s West Sacramento that took the time to attempt to rename the bridge. The City should really just drop this mess entirely of their own making and leave well enough alone.

  5. Well if you had a culture to protect you might feel differently

  6. waah waah waah

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