Commemorative Seals


Anticipating the Future and Honoring the Past

"...these seals are a powerful statement...they will tell people that the legislature and the administration honors and respects its California Indians and Hispanic people."

— Larry Myers, May 28, 2002, Seals Dedication Ceremony

On May 28, 2002, the California Indian Seal and the Spanish-Mexican Seal were installed in front of the State Capitol flanking the Great Seal of California.

These large bronze seals measure six feet in diameter and are filled with cultural and artistic details. The images that adorn the seals celebrate both current and past contributions of the California Indians and the Spanish and Mexican peoples who held sovereignty in this region before California became a state. Both seals represent important chapters in our state's history. The seals also point out that California's future lies in the continued strength of our diversity trough a clear understanding of our past. The seals' very existence are a testament to the collaboration of many cultural heritages that are alive and active in California today.

A Testament to California's History Before Statehood

The idea of recognizing California's history prior to statehood originated with Larry Myers, the Executive Secretary of the Native American Heritage Commission. With State Librarian Kevin Starr, Secretary Myers approached Assemblyman Robert M. Hertzberg, who supported the idea and carried legislation making the vision a reality.

In 1998 the California Legislature created the Commemorative Seals Advisory Committee and authorized it to develop the seals. The Committee defined the vision for the seals, chose the artists, and managed design and development decisions. They worked with the State of California Library to ensure historical accuracy, and raised the private funds that complemented state funds.

The Committee felt strongly that the seals should be placed at the West Capitol Steps, the entrance to the home of California's government and the physical representation of its people. This location deliberately and powerfully signals the value California places on the contributions of generations of California Indians and Hispanic people.

Robert Freeman, a California Indian from the Southern California Rincon Indian Reservation created the California Indian Seal. Susan Shelton and Donna Billick created the Spanish/Mexican Seal. The artists worked closely with Alan Osborne of the Art Foundry in Sacramento to ensure that the final bronze pieces accurately represented their original Corn and Field Element from Mexican Sealdesigns. To see the artists at work, go to the Creation Process Related Link at this tour stop.

Larry Myers, chair of the Commemorative Seals Advisory Committee, summed up the vision and importance of the seals with these words at the dedication ceremony.

"Today we honor the Indians that have gone before us and the Hispanic people that have gone before us. We honor you that are here today and we also honor the future. We honor our children. Because these seals are powerful statements, they will tell every tourist and every third-grader that enters the Capitol through the West Steps some information about California Indians and Hispanic people. They will also tell those people that the legislature and the administration honors and respects its California Indians and Hispanic people. And I think it's about time that has happened. I think these seals on these steps are really, really an important step towards that."

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