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Gabrielino Tongva Remains to be Reburied This Weekend at Playa Vista

December 11, 2008
Contact: Nate Kaplan-(213) 473-7011


Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl
Members of the Gabrielino Tongva Indians of CA
Members of the San Gabrielle Band of Mission Indians
Members of the Carmelo Group
Members of the Candelaria Group

Saturday, December 13, 2008 *Rain or Shine
2:30 p.m. – Remarks by Rosendahl and tribal leaders
2:45 p.m. – Inter-tribal March

13160 Bluff Creek Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90094

Marking an end to years of controversy, an historic congregation of Native American tribes will gather Saturday to celebrate the reburial of ancestors whose remains were disturbed during construction of Playa Vista.

In private ceremonies, Native Americans representing many tribes will witness the reburial of the remains of 1200-1400 Gabrielino Tongva Indians. The solemn ceremonies will be followed by a public inter-tribal procession, including offerings, songs and prayers at the burial mound.

The reburial comes after years of disputes among developers, various tribes, archeologists, and government agencies over the handling of the remains, and the timing and the location of their reburial. Saturday’s ceremonies are being organized by Robert Dorame, who was designated the “Most Likely Descendent” by the California Native American Heritage Commission.

“This will be a beautiful ceremony to commemorate that our ancestors’ journey has finally come to an end,” Dorame said. “Rather than sitting on shelves in cardboard boxes, they will be at rest, at home, in sacred ground.”

After being discovered during construction of Phase I of the Playa Vista project, the remains of Dorame’s ancestors had been in storage, under the supervision of the developer’s archeologists, for several years. After years of controversy, City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl helped Dorame broker an agreement that expedited the reburial, which might not have occurred until 2011.

Dorame chose a reburial site on a plot of Playa Vista land at the base of the Westchester Bluffs, beneath Loyola Marymount University. It is land where the Gabrielino Tongva lived, hunted and fished from 3,500 BC until the 1820s.

Saturday morning, Native American Indians from all over California will congregate at the site to for the reburial and several private ceremonies and prayers. At 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to join an open program that will include remarks from tribal leaders and Rosendahl, as well as procession of various tribes to the burial mound for final prayers and offerings.

Rosendahl said he was pleased to help the Gabrielino Tongva finally find a permanent resting place for their ancestors.

“I have said consistently that I would not rest until the ancestors are at rest.” Rosendahl said. “We must respect the dead, and our obligations to them are sacred. I want to thank Playa Vista and each tribe involved for their cooperation. At long last, the remains of those who walked these grounds before us are finally at peace.”

Note: Photography and cellphone use will be forbidden during a portion of public ceremonies closest to the sacred burial mound.