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HISTORY

OUR HISTORY

The Gabrielino/Tongva Nation is the aboriginal tribe of the Los Angeles Basin and four Southern Channel Islands, the true First Angelenos. Our lands once consisted of more than 1.5 million acres.

While we are more widely known by our connection to the San Gabriel Mission beginning in 1771, our existence pre-dates that enslavement. Our people can be traced back as far as 6000 BC, when Quaoar created the world through song and dance. Over 2,000 archaeological sites identified in the Los Angeles County Basin attest to our longevity.

The Gabrielino/Tongva Nation today has a unified tribal constitution, the express support of the California General Assembly and the Los Angeles City Council, and a membership of more than 700 tribal citizens. All of our citizens descend from a bona fide Gabrielino/Tongva ancestor enumerated on a California Indian Roll, prepared and certified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Pursuant to the Act of May 18, 1928, Act of May 24, 1950 (64 Stat. 189), and Act of September 21, 1968).

TIMELINE
HISTORY

THE TRIBE TODAY

Today, Gabrielino/Tongva Nation tribal citizens live throughout the City and County of Los Angeles. Often referred to as City Indians, we are part of the fabric of Los Angeles. With more than 700 tribal citizens, we are your neighbors, friends, coworkers, even if you may not be aware of our history or background.

Unlike other tribes in California and across the country, the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation does not currently have designated land to establish a Reservation – we do not have a centralized “home” for our people. This is the direct result of the United States federal government’s failure to recognize the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation as a sovereign nation, despite being under Federal jurisdiction through the Mission Indian Agency and recognized by the State of California, the California General Assembly, and the Los Angeles City Council.

As we work to gain federal recognition, it is vital that we maintain our traditions and sense of community, so that we can honor our ancestors and preserve our history and culture for generations to come.

SOVEREIGNTY
HISTORY

OUR NAME

While the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation’s tribal ancestors have been here since time immemorial, our tribal name has evolved over time.

At the time of California's entry into the United States, the Tribe was known as the San Gabriel Indians, or Gabrieleño. Like other California tribes subject to Spanish colonization, the Tribe came to be known by the name of the Spanish mission to which they were taken. It was under this tribal name that the Gabrieleño joined the Mission Indian Federation and participated in the Indian Claims Commission.

In the 1970s, tribes across California sought to change their names to reflect their own unique identity and historical circumstances. By 1976, the Tribe was known as the Coastal Gabrieleno/Diegueno Band of Mission Indians.

In 2001, the Tribe reorganized, and, in 2007, changed its name to the present Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, honoring its past as the aboriginal Tribe of the Los Angeles Basin, and its people as the First Angelinos.

HISTORY

TONGVA WOMAN AND THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY SEAL

The heart of the Los Angeles County Seal features a Tongva woman, acknowledging our people as the aboriginal people of the Los Angeles Basin, including the area now called Los Angeles County. We are truly the First Angelinos.

She stands on the shore of the Pacific Ocean with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. Also included in the Seal is a representation of the San Gabriel Mission, the first in Los Angeles County, where our people were taken beginning in 1771. Like other California tribes subject to Spanish colonization, the Tribe came to be known by the name of the Spanish mission to which they were taken. It was under this tribal name that the Gabrieleño joined the Mission Indian Federation and participated in the Indian Claims Commission.

The County seal was designed by former Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, drawn by Millard Sheets, and adopted by the Board of Supervisors January 2, 1957, effective March 1, 1957. It was modified by the Board of Supervisors on September 14, 2004, and again on January 7, 2014.

TIMELINE

1542

The Gabrielino/Tongva encountered the expedition of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at Santa Catalina Island. Following the death of Cabrillo after this encounter, the Spanish did not attempt to colonize the island or surrounding Los Angeles Basin.

1769

Gabrielino/Tongva people encountered the expedition of Gaspar de Portolá near the village of Yaangna, which marked the beginning of Spanish colonization.

1771

Franciscans established Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and integrated Gabrielino/Tongva villages from the surrounding area into the mission system, resulting in enslavement and abuse of our ancestors.

1785

Conditions at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel prompted Toypurina, the daughter of a local Gabrielino/Tongva chief, to lead an uprising against Mission San Gabriel Arcángel; when the uprising failed, she was exiled to Mission San Carlos Borromeo.

1819

The leaders of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel established San Bernardino de Sena Estancia to consolidate Gabrielino/Tongva converts in a settlement and ranch outpost near San Timoteo Canyon.

1842

Mexican Governor Juan B. Alvarado issued a land grant for Rancho San Bernardino, including San Bernardino de Sena Estancia, where a group of Gabrielino/Tongva people continued to live.

1852

An account of Gabrielino/Tongva life is published in a series of letters in the Los Angeles Star; these are later reprinted as the “Indians of Los Angeles County.”

1890

St. Boniface Indian Industrial School opened for students including Gabrielino/Tongva children; it was located near an Indian trail that extended through the San Timoteo Canyon.

1891

In response to the impoverished conditions experienced by Indian tribes sent to the California missions, Congress passed the Act of January 12, 1891 (26 Stat. 711) commonly known as the Mission Indian Relief Act. This created a special Indian agency with trust responsibilities over “Mission Indians” in California, including the Gabrielino/Tongva.

1903

Sherman Indian School opened in Riverside for students including Gabrielino/Tongva children.

1903

Narcissa Higuera, also known as Mrs. James Rosemyre, provided ethnographic and linguistic information to U.S. Biological Survey naturalist C. Hart Merriam; her testimony provides much of what is presently known about traditional Gabrielino/Tongva culture at that time.

1928

One hundred fifty-five members of the Gabrielino/Tongva community, many of whom were then living in their traditional homelands in the Los Angeles Basin, enrolled during the California Indian census taken pursuant to the Act of May 18, 1928 (45 Stat. 602), which identified them as “Mission San Gabriel” or “Gabrielino” Indians and under the Federal jurisdiction of the Mission Indian Agency in Riverside, California.

1931

Isabell Velasquez, who had strictly forbidden Gabrielino/Tongva people living in San Timoteo Canyon from speaking about their Gabrielino identity, died; her children broke the taboo against speaking about their Native American heritage, and encouraged Gabrielino/Tongva families living in San Timoteo Canyon to reclaim their identities.

1951

The Bureau of Indian Affairs retained legal counsel for twenty-nine bands or groups of Mission Indians, including the Gabrielino.

1952

A congressional report named the Gabrielino/Tongva, known at that time as “Gabrieleño or San Gabriel Indians,” as one of the Indian tribes or bands identified in dealings with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (82d Cong., 2d sess., House, Report No. 2503).

1972

Gabrielino/Tongva people received settlement funds from the judgment of the Indian Claims Commission (Docket 80 and 80-D under the Act of September 21, 1968 (Pub. L. 90-507; 82 Stat. 860)). Ultimately, the Indian Claims Commission determined that the Gabrielino/Tongva had been wrongly deprived of 1,553,772 acres of Los Angeles Basin land.

1984

The traditional Gabrielino/Tongva elder and chieftan from San Timoteo Canyon, Florian C. Velasquez, put forward James (“Jim”) Velasquez to be chieftain, which marked the transition from traditional leadership to formal tribal organization.

1994

The State of California officially recognized the Gabrielino/Tongva tribe. A Joint Resolution of the Assembly and Senate of the State of California recognized “the Gabrielinos as the aboriginal tribe of the Los Angeles Basin . . . and the continued existence of the Indian community”; and further called upon the President and Congress to give “give recognition to the Gabrielinos as the aboriginal tribe of the Los Angeles Basin.”

1997

The Coastal Gabrieleno/Diegueno Band of Mission Indians, the legal predecessor to the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, filed a letter of intent to petition for Federal acknowledgement as an Indian tribe. This was published in the Federal Register (62 Fed. Reg. 29147 (29 May 1997)).

1999

The Coastal Gabrieleno/Diegueno Band of Mission Indians, the legal predecessor to the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, filed evidence of its members’ Gabrielino ancestry with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, using certificates of degree of Indian blood prepared by the Act of September 21, 1968.

2001

The Coastal Gabrieleno/Diegueno Band of Mission Indians reorganized, changed its name to the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, and opened enrollment to individuals with Gabrielino ancestry certified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Act of September 21, 1968.

2007

After considerable consultation within the community of Gabrielino/Tongva descendants, a unified tribal constitution  was adopted for the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation.

2013

The Los Angeles City Council, in Resolution 13-1285, declared its support of the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation in its efforts to restore a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

2019

The Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles found that the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation was the legal successor in interest to the Coastal Gabrieleno/Diegueno Band of Mission Indians.