Opinion: Federal Funding of "California Missions Foundation" Violates Constitution

July 7, 2005

Source: Indian Country Today


On July 7, 2005 Indian Country Today ran an opinion piece by Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute. He comments on the use of federal money toward the California Missions Foundation. "The California Missions Preservation Act allocates $10 million in federal matching funds to be dispersed through the Department of the Interior to the 'California Missions Foundation.' The monies will be used to preserve and restore buildings on 21 Catholic missions in California that are visited by some 5 million tourists a year. From an American Indian viewpoint, however, this legislation is highly problematic... The mission system helped set into motion the many causes that led to the dispossession of Native nations and to the loss of nearly 100 million acres of ancestral lands in California... To fund the Catholic mission legacy with federal dollars that will renovate buildings owned by the Catholic Church violates the presumed separation of church and state in the United States."