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Los Angeles Celebrates its First Indigenous Peoples Day

Great Wall of Los Angeles © SPARC Judy Baca

Los Angeles celebrated its first Indigenous Peoples Day on October 8.

Los Angeles has the largest indigenous population of any city in the United States (UCLA, Mapping Indigenous LA). It is the ancestral land of the Gabrielino-Tongva people, whose territory stretches from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Santa Ana River, extending through the entire Los Angeles basin and the four southernmost Channel Islands (UCLA, Mapping Indigenous LA).

According to Tongva Chief Anthony Morales and tribe member Mark Acuna, Tongva families played shinny, a game similar to soccer, along the banks of the Los Angeles River. Present day Los Angeles State Historic Park is the last recorded location of the Yaangna Village, where 200 Tongvas lived. 5,000 Native Americans lived in the Los Angeles region in 1769, when the Spaniards arrived (The City Project, Flow of History, p. 9). 

It is important to discuss Native history, and we must also recognize the struggles of Native people today. Native Americans have a life expectancy 5.5 years less than the US population average, and die at higher rates than other people in the US from diabetes, suicide, and chronic liver disease (Indian Health Services). These health disparities can be linked to the fact that one in four Native Americans live in poverty (Pew Research Center). These disparities constitute a public health disgrace and must de alleviated.

The City Project continues to fight for public spaces that honor the history and promote the health and well-being of native people. 

See Stand for Standing Rock with GreenLatinos

See saving Panhe sacred and San Onofre State Beach

See the battle for Los Angeles State Historic Park, site of the Togva Yaangna Village

Monuments, Diversity, and Democracy: Sa-angna Burial Ground

See Justice for Guatemalan and Mayan People for US Crimes against Humanity

And more . . .

Hannah Sumiko Daly and Elizabeth Chi, Policy Analysts