Gabrielino/Tongva Nation of the Greater Los Angeles Basin

a.k.a. The Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe
106 ½ Judge John Aiso St #231
Los Angeles CA 90012
(951) 807-0479


Since time immemorial, we the Tongva People have inhabited the 4,000+ square mile region we call Tovangar, known today as the Greater Los Angeles Basin. Our natural, ancestral boundaries are from the Santa Susanna Mountains to the North, Aliso Creek to the South, the San Bernardino Mountains to the East, and the Pacific Ocean to the West, including the four channel islands of Santa Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, and San Nicolas.

Silhouette of mountain and treeline with city skyline in background under a hazy sky

Los Angeles skyline.

It was October 8, 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo noted in his log his description of the “Bay of Smokes” (San Pedro Bay).  Over two hundred years later, on August 2, 1769, Captain Gaspar de Portolá and his contingent of men, camped in Yaang’na (Los Angeles).  Both groups encountered the Tongva People living in the respective areas.

In 1771, the Spanish turned their sights to conquer and enslave the Tongva by using them as the slave labor force to build the Misión de San Gabriel Arcángel, giving the Tongva slaves the name of Gabrieleño.

In the name of the king and queen of Spain and of the Pope, disease, rape, kidnapping, enslavement, imprisonment, and slaughter by any means followed the soldiers of Spain through the territory, starting with the rape of the wife of a chief, the murder of the same chief as he confronted the soldiers at the mission, and the enslavement of the chief’s son through baptism making the son a ward to the church when his mother tried to appease the friars to bring peace to all.  The friars took this as a sign to start the forced relocations in earnest.

In 1824, Mexico became independent, their constitution guaranteeing citizenship to all people, giving Natives the right to live free in their villages.  The Colonization Act of 1824 gave land grants to white Californians and well connected citizens of Mexico.  By 1834, Mexico’s intent for secularization of the missions to remove the authority of the Franciscan missionaries, had little effect on the conditions and quality of life for the Tongva, as the authorities took the land for themselves.  In essence, Mexico removed the master of the church and replaced it with the masters of the rancho.  Ten years had passed, with the citizens of Mexico treating the Tongva and other Natives as slaves once again.  In 1846, Mexico’s government called for the locating and destroying of native villages.

On April 22, 1850, the California State Legislature passed the Government and Protection of Indians Act (Chapter 133, Statutes of California, April 22, 1850) taking the rights away from the Natives that the government of Mexico had given them.  This law was further amended and approved on April 18, 1860, effectively hiding their intent to enslave the Natives by passing a law for indentured servitude and therefore gaining acceptance as the 31st state during the time leading up to the Civil War of the United States.

The 1.2 million acres promised to the Gabrielino Tongva People never happened due to the disease called “Manifest Destiny” that was racing through their territory.  Edward Beale, an Indian Affairs Superintendent, stole the 50,000 acres near Fort Tejon and the cattle delivered there, from the Natives he was overseeing, by incorporating the land into the Fort Tejon Ranch as the owner, making him a rich man and using the Natives as forced labor.  The Natives included the Gabrielino Tongva People.

In 1892, Sherman Indian School was founded in Perris, California and then moved permanently to Riverside, California in 1910.  This school’s mission at the time was to assimilate the children of the local tribes into “white society.”  The students were forced to work long hours and face corporal punishment, while not being able to see their families or participate in their respective cultures and heritage.  The Gabrielino Tongva children were no exception to this.

In 1905, the “18 lost treaties” of 1851 and 1852, set aside 8.5 million acres of land for reservations in California and were to be signed by President Fillmore, were discovered hidden in a secret compartment in a desk drawer in the Senate Archives.

The California Indian Judgement Act of 1928-1933, tried to make up for the failure to enact the treaties of 1851 and 1852 by paying $0.07 an acre, minus expenses and divided between all the approved Native applicants for the census roll.

This continued with the census in 1948-1950 and with the census in 1968-1972, as the U.S. government tried to remedy what their actions had caused.  The Tongva were included in all three censuses under the name Gabrielino, but are still to this day unrecognized by the federal government, though we have contributed greatly to the founding of California and are repeatedly acknowledged through other federal government means on an individual basis.

To this day, we are not allowed to claim and repatriate our ancestors’ remains.  We are not allowed to participate in the scholarships for Native Americans.  We are not allowed to sell our traditional crafts and wares as Native Americans without facing the same $250,000 fine and 5 years imprisonment as any others that appropriate Native Culture for monetary gain.  Some are not allowed to seek health care at the Indian Clinics.

Yet, we are still here, as we have been since the beginning.  We are part of this land.  We will remain.  We will endure, because we are Tongva.

Polychromatic images painted and etched under a natural rock overhang

Pictographs in the Santa Susanna Mountains. A site used by the Tongva, the Tatavium, and the Chumash.

Polychromatic images of abstract, bird, and animal figures etched and painted on a curved surface

Pictographs in the Santa Susanna Mountains. A site used by the Tongva, the Tatavium, and the Chumash.

Top view of ancient stone pot displayed in bed of pickup truck

Side view of ancient stone pot displayed in bed of pickup truck

Stone pot recovered and rescued near Kuruvungna, a scared site and village located at University Senior High School (West Los Angeles).


A collection of stone tools, mostly round-edged, flat stones, laid out in dirt beside an archaeologist’s hammer

Stone tools recovered and rescued in Passinonga (Chino Hills).


Circle of boulders in grassy open area with shallow indentation visible in top of boulder in foreground

Horuuvngna village site in Jurupa. This was a place for food preparation. The smooth indent is used for grinding acorns.

Ancient stone mortar and pestle displayed on colorful modern mat

Mortar and pestle used for grinding food.

Old black-and-white photograph of family in formal attire posing in front of a thatched structure

Narcisa Higuera (future Mrs. James Rosemyre) and family. In 1905, she recorded Tongva language and Tongva songs for C. Hart Merriam.

Old sepia-toned photograph of man and young boy in theatrical costumes

Tongva child Joe “Chemo” Valenzuela was about ten years of age when he appeared in “The Mission Play”. This was the first play of The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. President Coolidge attended one of the showings.

Side-by-side images of woman speaking at podium in brightly-colored shawl and in close-up portraitHonoring our Elder Guadalupe Simental at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Yaangna (Los Angeles).

Man in brightly-colored shawl speaking at podium in front of Gabrielino/Tongva flag

Honoring our Elder and WWII Veteran John White at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Yaangna (Los Angeles).

U.S., California and Gabrielino/Tongva flags being led in procession in banquet room decorated for Christmas

Presenting the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation Flag for the first time – December 8, 2012, Chokishngna (El Monte).

U.S., California and Gabrielino/Tongva displayed on stage decorated for Christmas

Presenting the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation Flag for the first time – December 8, 2012, Chokishngna (El Monte).


Woman in basket hat, abalone-shell necklaces and clothing of grass and rawhide beats out rhythm with clapper stick; display of baskets in background

irginia Carmelo in traditional regalia singing at Moompetum at the Long Beach Aquarium.

People gathered around picnic tables in park

Teaching tradition in Passinonga (Chino Hills).


Men in shirts and ties in office raising their right hands as another man reads oath

Swearing in returning Tribal Council Members in Yaangna (Los Angeles).

Six people in elegant lounge area wearing casual modern clothing raise their right hands while reading oath

Swearing in the Election Board in Riverside.


Awnings and food set up in park for outdoor event

Tongva Annual Fishing Day at Shevaanga (Whittier/Whittier Narrows North Lake).

Alt-text: Man demonstrating fishing pole to children on shore of lake in park

Teaching the next generation to fish during the Tongva Annual Fishing Day at Shevaanga (Whittier/Whittier Narrows North Lake).

Man speaking into microphone in front of slide reading (in part) “Indigenous Histories”

Elder Edgar Perez speaking at Loyola Marymount.

Group of more than a dozen men and women in modern attire with traditional necklaces posing outside of door to courtroom

Our “Day in Court” – Superior Court of the State of California Case No. BC 361307 – Yaangna (Los Angeles).