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, Seals Dedication Ceremony
On May 28, 2002, the California Indian Seal and the Spanish-Mexican Seal were dedicated and 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 through a clear understanding of our past. The seals’ very existence are a testament to the collaboration of the many cultural heritages that are alive and active in California today.
A Testament to California’s History Before Statehood
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 California State Library to ensure historical accuracy and raised private funds that complemented the state funds.
The Committee felt strongly that the seals should be placed at the West Capitol Steps. This location deliberately and powerfully signals the value California places on the contributions of generations of California Native Americans and Hispanic people.
Robert Freeman, 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 seal designs.
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.”