After 43 years of developing and administering a wide range of programs which promote the economic, educational, cultural, legal, and social status of Indians in California, the Inter-Tribal Council of California pushes on to find new ways to improve the life of Indians in California. Though the years, ITCC has developed and operated various programs including: rural alcoholism program, alcoholic rehabilitation centers, a community food and nutrition program, senior nutrition program, job training programs, a water quality planning program, an Indian child welfare advocacy project, child care & services program, juvenile mentoring program, juvenile delinquency prevention program, teen pregnancy & STD prevention program, Nils E. Hasselberg Indian Scholarship Fund, Little Eagle Youth Shelter, Emergency Management Training/Preparedness, and the Family & Domestic Violence Prevention Project which is currently the largest consortium of Tribes in the Nation working together to put an end to family and domestic violence in our communities. Those are just a few programs that ITCC has offered and in some cases, still operates. The goal for the programs to be strong enough to spin-off to the tribes and trained members would assume their control.
Many American Indians of California faced hardship in the early 1950's when the federal government terminated 41 tribes from their previous status as federally recognized Indians, and took away Indian Health services and returned civil and criminal jurisdiction of tribal people in the State of California. The State neglected health, education, and welfare services to Indian communitie. This resulted in Indian health, education and welfare status to fall well below that of all other people in the nation. For the next 14 years, Indian tribal and community leaders throughout California got together enough support to initiate important changes in services for Indians in California.
The 60's represented a time when people started to work together outside of traditional tribal councils to address the many needs of Indians in California and the availability of resources to help get them going.
In 1965 at the Susanville Reservation, Vernon Johnson was having sewer problems and Steve Archer, a regional representative for the Office of Economic Opportunity stopped by to see what he could do. Here the initial idea for a Northern California Inter-Tribal Council was discussed. In the mid-eastern states, Henry Rodriguez was working on ways to get funding for Indian services with Erin Forrest who was on the state Commission Board representing Indian Issues in California. It was time for change and ideas were stirring up all over the country. A hand full of us were making things happen in our own regions not knowing others were working on the same thing somewhere else, said Rodriguez. The University of Utah and South Dakota along with Arizona State University got together enough funds to gather tribal leaders and members to come together in Chico, CA to make plans for bettering the lives of Indians in California. Archer and Rodriguez helped coordinate the meeting by gathering Indian members. The meeting in Chico also provided technical assistance in proposal writing, meeting procedures and basic administrative skills needed to run an organization. Rodriguez and Johnson met during this time to find they had been working on the same ideas in different areas.
The Office of Economic Opportunity required 2,000 Indian members to come together to form the consortium of ITCC. For the next seven years, Johnson, Archer, Rodriguez and Forrest would visit Indian Communities to identify them as members of ITCC. This was not easy. Convincing Indian people the importance of organizing was just as difficult as convincing the State of California and the federal government to secure such programs that would improve employment, medical and dental services, and nutrition for children and elderly Indian people. Dodging bullets, fists and avoiding property damage to their vehicles, the early pioneers of ITCC had their share of colorful stories from the identifying process. After the 2,000-person quota was reached, time was spent on preparing grants proposals, training and acquiring employees with the rules and regulations behind the new programs. After a couple of years of negotiation, in 1968 a grant of $350,000 was awarded and ITCC was officially chartered, and the board of directors for the original five areas were established.
From its inception in July of 1968, ITCC has increased from the nine original charter members to now over 100 Indian tribal groups throughout the state, providing services from Siskiyou to San Diego counties.