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Speech follows the introduction of H.R. 6859, the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation Recognition Act, Introduced in January Los Angeles, CA

(March 20, 2023) – Gabrielino/Tongva Nation Chairwoman Sandonne Goad addressed the Western Caseworkers Association Conference last week, delivering a powerful keynote address about the history of subjugation of the Gabrielino Tongva people, and calling on attendees to support the tribe’s efforts to secure Federal recognition.

During the address, Chairwoman Goad emphasized the importance of the recently-introduced Gabrielino/Tongva Nation Recognition Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager Dove (D-37). She also drew parallels between the various forms of erasure, from the lack of federal recognition to the absence of indigenous representation in research and academia, which have deeply wounded the tribal nation’s cohesion and identity over generations.

“Erasure takes many forms, and federal recognition is just one way to right the wrongs of history,” said the Chairwoman Goad. “H.R. 6859, Gabrielino/Tongva Nation Recognition Act, will enshrine the right for Gabrielino/Tongva Nation to access scholarships, healthcare, educational and housing assistance for Native Americans into law, granting them the right to practice religious beliefs – rights reserved for recognized tribes.

The Gabrielino/Tongva Nation is demonstrating how tenaciously marginalized groups must pursue their traditional cultural identities in the face of prejudice and assimilation efforts, maintaining community through a unified tribal constitution, garnering the express support of the California General Assembly and the Los Angeles City Council, and cultivating a growing membership of more than 700 tribal citizens.

“Over generations, the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation has endured. We’re still here,” said Chairwoman Goad. “And you can’t say you don’t recognize us. We are your neighbors, friends, and coworkers. You see us every day walking around the communities we share. You go to parks named for our ancestors. All we ask is for acknowledgement; a validation that our tribe is real, and it belongs here because our people belong to this land. We are asking for a future.”

Following the Chairwoman’s speech, a panel discussion centered the urgent need for renewed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts in case research and teaching. Panelists included San Jose State University Professor Dr. Caroline Chen, California State University, Sacramento Professor Dr. Franziska Renz , and San Jose State University Professor Dr. George Whaley.

Why Sovereignty Matters

Despite being the first true Angelenos, the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation is not federally recognized. The Gabrielino/Tongva Nation is, however, recognized by the State of California, the California General Assembly, and the City of Los Angeles.

Federal recognition is vital for the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation because it will allow the tribe to have a government-to-government relationship with the United States, have inherent rights of self-government, and importantly, access to the extensive benefits provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Federal recognition for the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation will help correct a historic injustice and preserve our culture for generations to come.