Celebrating Indigenous L.A.

“Two October Events Spotlight Local Indigenous History” was originally published by the Los Feliz Ledger


Looking across Los Angeles from Tongva Peak in the hills north of the city, there is little evidence of the area’s original indigenous people, the Tongva, who once populated the area by the thousands. Two October events aim to remind Angelenos of that heritage.

An Indigenous Pride event, commemorating the second annual Indigenous People’s Day—which officially replaced Columbus Day in Los Angeles after an August 2017 city council vote—will be held October 13th at 11 a.m. at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park. That event will focus specifically on the indigenous LGBTQ community, while the city’s broader Indigenous People’s Day celebration takes place later that day downtown.

That event will begin at 4 p.m. at City Hall and Grand Park and will include a variety of activities, including performances from Native American musicians Brooke Simpson, PJ Vegas and Native American rock group Redbone, among others.

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Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell of Council District 13—which includes Atwater Village, Echo Park, and parts of Silver Lake among other areas—helped spearhead the creation of the event along with the Native American Indian commission. He additionally began city council’s 2017 push to replace Columbus Day.

“I look forward to continuing the movement to celebrate this momentous day for Native Americans, and especially for Angelenos,” said O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation, in a recent statement. “I want to send a message to other municipalities across the country that replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is essential if we are to ever eliminate the false narrative that Christopher Columbus was a benign conqueror who discovered America.”

More than 1,000 sites have been identified throughout Los Angeles County as having been inhabited by the Tongva, including local sites in Elyisan Park, Chavez Ravine and Griffith Park’s Ferndell Canyon, which features a City of Los Angeles historic landmark that designates it as a former indigenous village site.

There are about 73,000 people living in Los Angeles County with indigenous ancestry, according to 2017 estimates by the United States Census Bureau. Numbers vary by source, but it is believed about 2,000 to 3,000 of them have Tongva ancestry.

“Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity for Los Angeles to celebrate the beauty and resilience of indigenous peoples all over the world, as well as to recognize the first peoples of Los Angeles—the Tongva, Tataviam and Chumash Nations,” said Los Angeles City-County Native American Indian Commission Chair Chrissie Castro in a recent statement.

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Carl recently reported on an indigenous people’s celebration in Los Angeles for the Los Feliz Ledger. Though much of Native American history has been erased or mistreated, the article hopes to give local residents a sense of connection to the indigenous history of the land on which they live and help foster a sense of one community.