Wednesday, June 22, 2022

New Law Expands Time for Parents to Register Newborns to Respect Native Cultural Traditions

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2022 at 12:08 PM

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill by North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood that expands the time period in which parents must register the birth of their child.

Parents will now have 21 days to register their newborn instead of the previous 10, a time frame that did not recognize culture traditions followed by many Native American families of not naming the child for 10 days, with the last day dedicated to a sacred naming ceremony, a news release from Wood's office states. 

“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 I am pleased that the state will respect Native American culture and tradition by allowing adequate time to complete the required registration process.”

The release notes Providence Humboldt County conducted extensive interviews with Native families after initiating a "Better Birth Project" in 2021, with the goal of building better relationships and trust with Native communities the Eureka hospital serves and to "identify the challenges of and consider solutions to improve the birth experience."

“We are so grateful for the many Native families that shared their birth stories with Providence St. Joseph Hospital and trusted us to listen and take action," Providence states in a news release. "Without them, this legislative change would not have happened. And, thank you to the Better Birthing team at St. Joseph Hospital for your many months of dedication and commitment to re-designing a system of care that is more inclusive and equitable to all, but especially Indigenous communities on the North Coast."

The hospital system's release also thanks Wood and fellow Assemblymember James C. Ramos for introducing AB 2176 and the governor "for signing it into law.”

“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 benefited from their wise council over the years and this change in law respects such an important event in their lives,”  Wood said in the release from his office. 

Ramos (D-Highland), the principal coauthor of AB 2176, said in Wood's release that he applauded his colleague for introducing the now law, "which makes our state more respectful of the state’s First People.”

“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,” he said.

Read the release from Wood's office below:
SACRAMENTO–Today, Governor Newsom signed AB 2176 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), expanding the timeframe for Native American families to register the birth of a child.

The new law will expand the timeframe for birth 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 and this tradition does not align 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 I am pleased that the state will respect Native American culture and tradition 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 benefited from their wise council over the years and this change in law respects such an important event in their lives,” said Wood. 
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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