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Asm Wood Introduces Bill to Accommodate Native American Cultural Tradition of Naming Newborns

Assemblymember James C. Ramos is Principal Coauthor

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO–Today, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) announced AB 2176, expanding the timeframe for Native American families to register the birth of a child. The bill is expanding the timeframe for registration from 10 days to 21 days, honoring and accommodating the period of sacred ceremonial blessing and naming of the newborn.

State law currently requires registration of a newborn within 10 days of birth. Many Native American families follow a cultural tradition of not naming their newborn for 10 days and dedicating the tenth day to a sacred naming ceremony. This tradition does not allow time for complying with current state law.

“Humboldt County is home to nine federally recognized Tribes and Rancherias and remain on their traditional homelands to this day,” said Wood. “These sovereign nations, and others throughout California, have their own specific beliefs, traditional practices and ceremonies and the state must respect that by allowing adequate time to complete the required registration process.”

In 2021, Providence Humboldt County initiated a “Better Birthing Project” with local tribes to build relationships and increase trust between St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and the Native communities it serves. A team of hospital staff and representatives from the Native communities conducted extensive interviews with Native parents to identify the challenges of and consider solutions to improve the birth experience.

“When life is brought into this world, it is a special time. Extending California’s timeline for registering new births from 10 days to 21 days allows Native American families to comply with state law and fulfill their sacred cultural naming traditions,” said Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland), the principal coauthor of AB 2176. “I applaud Assemblymember Wood for introducing this measure which makes our state more respectful of the state’s First People.”

“The many Tribes and Rancherias contribute so much to the culture of our state, and I have learned a great deal about their traditions and benefitted from their wise council over the years, so this change in law is a way to respect such an important event in their lives,” said Wood.

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