TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS
Our Tribe is a seafaring tribe. We traveled to and from the California coastline to the islands of Pimu (Santa Catalina), Kimki (San Clemente), Tchunash (Santa Barbara), and Xarash (San Nicolas). We fished for sheepshead, shark, barracuda, halibut and many more from our ti’ats (small plank canoe type boats) and the shore; we hunted seal and other ocean mammals; and we harvested abalone, muscles, and clams by diving and using tools to pry these creatures from the rocks.
Fishing and harvesting in the fresh waters of the rivers and seasonal lakes helped the mainland villages thrive. Our People used tule reed boats to navigate on the rivers, lakes, and also in the marshlands were the rivers met the ocean.
On the mainland, archaeological evidence suggests that the Tongva People were farming clams and muscles in uniformed sections. This archaeological site was estimated to be 10,000 years old, and buried rapidly under 30 feet of mud and debris during a flood.
We honor our ancestors by holding a yearly gathering to fish along the shoreline as a Tribe. We are helping in any way we can to preserve the halibut population, as well as several different kinds of abalone indigenous to the ocean waters of our traditional territory.
TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS
TRADE AND AGRICULTURE
Trading from quarries on the Channel Islands, specifically Santa Catalina and the soapstone found there, brought industry to our People. We traded soapstone, abalone shell, and other harvested items as far as the Colorado River, with some of our abalone reaching the Mississippi.
We were agriculturalists, in so much as we moved live plants and seeds from the mainland to the islands, which created new species only found on the islands today. The island fox was also brought to the islands by the Tongva People as companion pets from the mainland fox.
Hunting for deer, rabbit, and fowl with spears, traps, and bows and arrows; and fishing for trout and other freshwater fish by hooks and line made from abalone and clam shells and from milkweed fibers respectively, was an ongoing process. Every part of the animal was eaten or utilized for daily use items, such as clothing and bedding, or for use in ceremony.
Acorns were the main staple in the Tongva diet. Its importance to the Tongva garnered 13 different words to describe them and their different preparation processes. Harvesting and gathering of these seeds was a community undertaking each year. For perspective, it takes 500 pounds to feed one person daily for a year in today’s standards.
Black walnuts were also important as a food source. The outer shells were used as dye for basket designs. The hard inner shells were also utilized for games, by filling the hole left by the meat of the nut with asphaltum and pressing abalone pieces into the black sticky tar then left to harden into dice.
We honor these traditions by gathering at a freshwater lake in our traditional territory to fish, gather, and create items that our ancestors used every day.
TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS
From the burden of the baskets and cradleboards we carried daily, to the homes we lived in, to the fishing nets and baskets we caught fish with, basket weaving was an industry every man, woman, and child knew by the age of five.
There are those in our Tribe working towards their certification as Master Basketweavers in the Tongva Arts. Our Citizens also participate in the California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA) and attend their yearly gathering, which is held on different Tribal lands throughout the state, joining our California Sister Tribes in sharing and reciprocating our greater California Native Culture.
To this day, we go out to sacred places to gather the botanicals needed to create the many different forms our baskets take. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of displacement, not just of our People, but of the plants and the animals that call the plants home. It is getting harder and harder to find the items needed to create this art form in Los Angeles County. Most basket weavers grow their own plants at home, trading with others for items they cannot find or grow themselves.
Preservation, revitalization, research and discovery are where our legacy begins. It is no longer enough to have been here, to still be here, and to always be here. We must rise up and claim our destiny.
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We are taking a generational approach to teaching our language, heritage, and traditions to our People. The structure is to teach at the level of the individual learning, whether that is an elder learning to basket weave for the first time or a child learning to do the same.
During these classes, we teach language and the crafting of daily use items to preserve our culture for future generations. These classes are offered only to our Citizens.
As the original caretakers of the land, sea, and air; we are excited and happy to help wherever we can to make this world a better place for all our relations to live and thrive in.
The Tribal Council (or Peo’tskome in Tongva) believes that language is the cornerstone in the foundation of any culture. This makes revitalization of our language one of, if not, the most important elements in the preservation of our Tribe’s culture, heritage, and identity.
We utilize words in Tongva at every meeting and have begun to interject Tongva words into new laws we are working on, as well as singing the old songs and creating new ones.
Hakwaa’ar — Creator
Ava aha — Greetings, such as “Hello, how are you?” or “Nice to see you.”
E kwah — Here
Ne a yah — Friend
Yah mo xene — Farewell (I am going)
Education as a Cultural Resource
We participate in educational programs at the local schools in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties to ensure our history is being taught appropriately in schools. Our People have been invited as guest speakers to UCLA, USC, and Loyola Marymount, as well as many city colleges. We have helped our local school districts with state curriculum requirements at each level in the K-12 public school system.
Indigenous People’s Day Anaheim
Indigenous People’s Day coincides with Columbus day in October. While many cities are replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, the City of Anaheim has not adopted the holiday in their calendar. Instead, they created an Indigenous People’s Day celebration, which we have worked with them to organize since 2017. In 2019, we held our first Ancestor Spiritual Walk for Indigenous People’s Day.
Our Cultural Resource Monitor is an ambassador for our tribe, charged with securing any found artifacts to preserve our history. They are sometimes the only contact the surrounding communities have with Native Americans.
HISTORY OF THE EAGLE STAFF & ANAHEIM INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S DAY
Our Peo’tskome “Tribal Council” was approached and attended meetings with the Native American United Methodist Church, Cultural & Heritage Commission and City of Anaheim staff member, and advocates from other indigenous nations on approaching the City Council to Adopt “Indigenous Peoples Day”. Anaheim did not previously observe Columbus Day, but the City Council had to approve it by a majority vote and they became the first city in Orange County to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day (IPD) with the inaugural on October 12, 2020, and to be recognized on the 2nd Monday of October every year after.
Six of the original community members and advocates formed a volunteer committee for the planning and implementation of IPD. Former Tribal Council member of the Tohono O’odam Nation David Garcia, requested Peo’tskome members Adam Loya and Ed White to take the lead as local Tribal Leaders of the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation for Indigenous Peoples Day in Hutuuknga “Anaheim”.
The first year we had a ceremonial prayer walk/run that started at the Native American United Methodist Church in Anaheim, where 20 – 30 indigenous people walked together with GTN Tribal Flag, clapper sticks and gourd rattles singing songs north up Harbor Blvd then east on Broadway to reach the steps of City Hall, where Anaheim City Council member Stephen Fassael read aloud and presented a Proclamation for IPD and land acknowledgement to the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation. We ended with a run approximately 3 miles to the Santa Ana Riverbed to share a bit of the history of our tribe and closet village where we stood, being “Hutuuknga/Hotuuknga”.
David Garcia presented eagle feathers to the first 2 individuals that stepped up to lead the run holding his eagle staffs.
Mr. David Garcia me and GTN Secretary Ed White to find and make a staff, and he would provide the eagle feathers for our tribe to use at our second annual IPD Walk/Run and for other ceremonies as needed.
The second year we started our morning prayers from the Native American United Methodist Church in Anaheim and walked to Anaheim City Hall to meet with City Council members to hear them read the IPD Proclamation and Land Acknowledgement. We then proceeded with our prayer run from City Hall to the Santa Ana Riverbed.
We encouraged more of our kids to get involved as our future leaders. Mr. Garcia again, gifted some eagle feathers to our nation for our youth to be able to use for the third annual prayer walk/run and other ceremonies as needed.
For our Third Annual IPD Day of Hutuuknga, we started with early morning prayers at the Santa Ana Riverbed, then began our 5K walk/run with our youth leading us to Anaheim City Hall where we were met with City Council members whom read the IPD Proclamation and Land Acknowledgement.
Our Fourth Annual IPD Day of Hutuuknga took place on Monday October 9th, 2023. The morning began at the Santa Ana Riverbed with approximately 40 indigenous individuals ready to pray together with every step at our IPD 5k Walk/run to Anaheim City Hall. The IPD committee hosted a community feed immediately after the reading of IPD Proclamation and Land Acknowledgement in the community center.
During this time, our Peo’tskome honored David Garcia with a Pendleton blanket for his guidance and advocacy for Indigenous Peoples Day and especially towards our Gabrielino/Tongva Nation in honoring us with Eagle Feathers to pray with, and use for future ceremonies and tribal functions. Many A-ho’s!!