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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) died at her Washington D.C. on Thursday night. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, she was at the time of her death the longest serving and oldest senator in the 118th Congress. Sen. Feinstein cast her last vote on Thursday. She was 90 years old. 

James Sauls, chief of staff to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) official confirmed her death in a statement released on Friday morning:

 “Sadly, Senator Feinstein passed away last night at her home in Washington, D.C. Her passing is a great loss for so many, from those who loved and cared for her to the people of California that she dedicated her life to serving.

Senator Feinstein never backed away from a fight for what was just and right. At the same time, she was always willing to work with anyone, even those she disagreed with, if it meant bettering the lives of Californians or the betterment of our nation.” 

With 109 federally recognized tribes in California, Sen. Feinstein had many interactions with tribal leaders for several decades. 

On Friday evening, Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino), the first and only Native American to serve in the California legislature, on Friday issued the following statement regarding the passing of Sen.Feinstein:

“My condolences and prayers go out to Senator Feinstein’s family and loved ones. She was a trailblazer and tireless public servant. I appreciated working alongside her to protect sacred Native American sites in California’s desert lands and her support, along with Senator Alex Padilla and others, to support the health needs of Native Americans living in urban areas. She will be remembered as a unique voice in California political and civic history.”

In September 2022, Sen. Feinstein, with California’s other U.S.senator, Senator Alex Padilla (D) introduced legislation to formally recognize the Tule River Tribe’s reserved water rights. 

The Tule River Tribe – the second largest tribe in California with more than 1,900 members – often lacks enough drinking water during the summer and is forced to import bottled water for basic household needs, Feinstein noted at the time. 

“This is unacceptable, especially considering the tribe has been working for decades to restore sufficient water on its reservation,” Feinstein said.

Earlier this month, Feinstein signed her name to a letter that called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to place DOJ personnel in California as part of the newly designated Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIP) Regional Outreach Program.

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Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].