Honoring history and culture: California Indian Heritage Center | Cal Parks
Published: October 7, 2022

The California Indian Heritage Center (CIHC) has been in development in West Sacramento for nearly three decades. You may notice it is a “center” instead of a “museum,” and this is intentional. This space is intended to not only educate us and honor the past, but also be a place to showcase Indigenous peoples now and in the future. The project has had its starts and stops but is now moving forward to become an incredible space to learn, engage, and celebrate. Once complete, the CIHC will draw visitors from across California, the nation, and the world to this center of statewide significance for cultural preservation, learning and exchange, land stewardship based on Indigenous values, and a place to engage all visitors in celebrating the living cultures of California Indigenous communities. 


A vision for the space 

The California Indian Heritage Center will include space for exhibition, gathering, and park trails in West Sacramento, California. The new center will reflect the heritage and cultural traditions of California native people, support contemporary projects, and facilitate research and education.  

What are the major milestones so far in the process to create the California Indian Heritage Center?  

  • 1940: State Indian Museum built at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park. 

  • 1976: Native American Advisory Council formed to gather input of facilities and sites for the State Indian Museum Project. 

  • 1991: "The California Indian Museum Study" is published endorsing the ideas of developing a new statewide California Indian Museum and museum network. 

  • 2002: Senate Bill 2063 was passed and established the California Indian Cultural Center and Museum Task Force. Following the establishment of the task force, things began to happen to make the CIHC a reality.  

  • 2003: $5M allocated in Governor's budget for planning and phase one development. 

  • 2004-2006: Task Force receives 10 nominations from entities throughout the state for potential sites, but ultimately West Sacramento is chosen. 

  • 2011: The final General Plan and Environmental Impact Report is adopted by State Park and Recreation Commission and City of West Sacramento. 

  • 2018: Former Governor Jerry Brown authorized a total of $200M for CIHC; $100M in state funding and $100M in anticipated donations for the construction of the CIHC. 

  • 2018:  Executive Order B-60-18 required the Governor’s Tribal Advisor to establish the CIHC Task Force to direct the development of the Center, coordinate statewide efforts to engage California Native Americans in consultation; task force to be led and convened by the Tribal Advisor, Natural Resources Agency, and California State Parks. 

  • 2022: Fentress Architects is selected as the Design Firm for the CIHC. 

Where is the site? 

The 51-acre site for the California Indian Heritage Center is at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers in West Sacramento. The site’s design and development began in earnest with the commitment in the governor’s 2018-2019 budget to invest $100M. In June 2019, the City of West Sacramento completed the transfer of its 43-acre parcel to California State Parks to realize the long-desired build out of the CIHC. A campaign is underway to raise a matching donation of $100 million for the phased buildout. 

Where is the process at now? 

California State Parks and the California Indian Heritage Center Task Force announced Fentress Architects as the firm to design the long-desired build out of the California Indian Heritage Center.  

In the next few months and over the next year, the CIHC Task Force, California State Parks, and Fentress Architects will kick off a public engagement process, including extensive tribal outreach. There will be events across the state, including local workshops, think-tanks, and regional Native American workshops.  Members of the tribal communities and the public are invited to engage, learn, and participate in the design process. If you would like to be notified of upcoming events and/or receive information on how to get involved with the project, contact California State Parks via email at CaliforniaIndian.HeritageCenter@parks.ca.gov or visit www.caindianheritagecenter.org.  



California Indian Heritage Center Timeline

California State Parks