Monday, December 10, 2012

Modern Chumash Story Tellers

Georgina Sanchez

Sanchez is a published author and poet and instructor in Native American Literature at California State University, Long Beach. She was born and raised in California and is a recognized member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation near Santa Barbara. She works extensively in the community as a cultural tradition bearer, language learner and activist. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tonga Villages and Names

Names and locations of Tongva villages, superimposed over a map of today's Los Angeles (Map updated 9/16/2011)

If you look at this map, most of these names of villages may sound strange or exotic to you, but if you are from Los Angeles they may also sound very familiar. The present day names of these areas are Hispanicized versions of the original Tongva name. For example Cahunga (Cahuenga), Topagna (Topanga), and Kukamogna (Rancho Cucamonga). 

Here's a list of Tongva villages (their name meanings if known) and their present-day locations:

Achois – San Fernando
Ahaugna - North Long Beach, near Los Angeles River
Ahwaagna – Long Beach (Downtown/coast)
Akuuragna - Pasadena-San Marino
Ajaarvongna - Puente Hills
Amupungna - Compton
Apachiagna - Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles
Ashawagna - Chatsworth
Atavsangna - West Hills
Atavayagna - Palos Verdes
Awigna  - La Puente
Alyeupkigna – Santa Anita
Azucsagna (“Place of the grandmother”) – Azusa
Cahugna (“Place of the hill”) – Hollywood/Studio City
Chokishgna – Bellflower
Chowigna – Palos Verdes
Cucamogna – Rancho Cucamonga
Engvangna – Redondo Beach/Torrance
Guaspita – Westchester bluffs (LMU campus)
Hahamongna – Glendale/Pasadena
Homhoangna - Colton
Houtgna – Monterey Park/South San Gabriel
Huachongna - Culver City
Hutukgna - Anaheim
Huutngna - Watts/Willowbrook
Isantkagna - Mission Viejo
Isanthcogna – San Gabriel
Joatngna - Mt. Baldy area
Juyubit – San Gabriel, along the river
Kenyaangna - Newport Beach
Kinkipar - San Clemente Island
Komiikrangna - Malibu Canyon
Kowagna – San Fernando
Kuruvugna – West Los Angeles
Lukupangna – Huntington Beach/Costa Mesa
Masaugna – San Pedro
Maugna – Los Feliz
Momwahomomutngna - San Dimas
Moniikangna - Palos Verdes
Motuucheyngna - Seal Beach
Moyogna – Newport Beach
Muuhungna - Sylmar
Nacaugna – Downey
Okowvinjha – San Fernando
Ongoovangna - Redondo Beach
Ongobehangna - Malibu area
Pahav – Corona (southeast)
Pasbengna - Santa Ana
Pasinogna – Chino Hills
Paxauxa - Norco
Peruksngna - City of Industry
Pimocagna ("Place of the running water") – Pacoima
Pimugna – Santa Catalina Island
Pubugna – Long Beach (Alamitos/CSULB campus)
Puntitavjatngna - Pasadena
Pwingkuipar (“Full of Water”) – Playa Del Rey/Westchester
Quapa - Encino
Saangna – Santa Monica/Venice/Marina Del Rey
Sawayagna – San Fernando
Sehatgna – Whittier Narrows
Sheshiikuanungna - San Marino
Shiishongna - Corona
Shwaagna – Harbor City/Wilmington/Lomita
Sibagna – San Gabriel
Sisitcanogna – Northeast Pasadena
Siutcangna - Sherman Oaks
Sonagna - Downtown Los Angeles
Suangna – Cerritos
Tajauta - Willowbrook
Tibagna - North Long Beach/Lakewood
Toibigna - Pomona
Topagna (“The place above”) – Topanga
Torojoatngna - Claremont
Totongna - Northridge
Tovimongna - Coastal Palos Verdes
Toviseagna – San Gabriel
Tuyugna ("Place of the mountain range") – Tujunga
Wajijangna - Chino Hills
Watsngna - Fontana
Weningna - Covina
Wenot (“River”) – Los Angeles, along the river
Wikangna - Verdugo Hills
Yangna (“Place of the poison oak”) – Downtown Los Angeles

Chumash Creation Story

The Chumash myth tells of a great deluge which engulfed the earth, taking with it all living things save for the Spotted Woodpecker, the nephew of Kaqunupenawa, the Sun God.

Spotted Woodpecker survived the flood by perching itself atop the tallest tree in the world, but as he saw the water rise all the way to his feet, he cried out for his uncle's help. "Save me, I'm drowning! - he cried. The Sun God's daughters heard him and told Kaqunupenawa that his nephew was dying of cold and hunger. The Sun God lowered his torch, the one he used to light the world and create the stars, and he warmed the Spotted Woodpecker with its heat. He then tossed two acorns in the water at his feet, so that he would be able to pick them up and eat them. The Sun God fed more acorns to the Spotted Woodpecker, which now explains why they are its favorite food.

After the flood, the Sun God, Morning Star, the Moon, and Slo'w the Great Eagle were discussing the creation of new people to populate the earth with the Sky Coyote, trying to decide on their appearance. The Great Eagle and the Sky Coyote argued whether the humans should have hands like the the Sky Coyote's, who believed that the new people should be made in his image. He won the argument, and the next day, all gathered around a white rock so that Sky Coyote could press his hand into it to make his hand print, but the Lizard, who had been a silent observer at the proceedings leapt forward and pressed his own hand onto the rock. Lizard escaped the furious Sky Coyote, and the Sun and the Eagle approved of the hand print and this is why human hands are somewhat shaped like the Lizard's.

The first people were created from the seeds planted on Limuw (Santa Cruz Island) by Hutash, the Earth Goddess. Hutash was married to the Sky Snake (The Milky Way), who made lightning with his tongue and gave the people their first fire. The people kept the fire burning to stay warm and cook their food. Since the people were getting more comfortable, their population grew until the Island became too crowded.

They also made so much noise that Hutash could not get any sleep, so she decided it was time to allow some of the people to cross over to the mainland. Hutash made Wishtoyo, a Rainbow Bridge which extended from the tallest peak of the Island to the tallest inland mountain near Carpinteria. She told the people to cross carefully, and to never look down, but some did, and fell off the Rainbow Bridge and into the ocean, where they were turned into dolphins by Hutash to prevent them from drowning. This is why the Chumash Indians consider the dolphins to be their brothers. The Chumash honor Hutash every September with a great Harvest Festival named after her.

For more stories visit:

The Chumash

The Chumash territory once spanned 7,000 miles from Malibu to Paso Robles. As with most Native American tribes, they passed down history through the art of story telling. Many of these stories were lost when the Chumash population started to decline in the 1700 and 1800's buy the Spanish missionary system.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tongva Sacred Sites

Like many other Native tribes, the Tongva have been loosing the battle to keep their sacred sites safe from developers and other people who are disturbing the land.

Kuruvunga Springs, a spring site of a former Tongva village, is now the campus of University High School in West LA. This was an issue for the Tongva people because it is considered to be one of their last remaining sacred sires for ceremonial events. In the 1990's it was revitalized thanks to the Gabrielino/Tongva Springs Foundation. Now you can visit the Springs and learn about the culture of the Tongva people; seeing artifacts, photos, and historical documents, as well as become educated with  the resources in the area. They also regulary hold ceremonial events and festivals.

Another issue with the destruction of sacred sites is the Tongva burial grounds are being repeatedly disturbed. An area called Puvungna, which some believe is the place of creation, is now located on the ground of CSU Long Beach. Part of the campus is on top of a burial ground, and developers have also frequently tried to build a strip mall in the area. Most of the sites of the area have already been destroyed by developers. The Tongva try to preserve these sites and their culture but a lot of the time these efforts do not do much.

More recently, human remains were unearthed at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a multi million dollar museum dedicated to preserving the culture of Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles. This happened in 2010 when the museum wanted to build a fountain. They discovered 90+ remains, and they have all been removed from the site in order to finish the building project. Even though they encountered these remains, no descendants were contacts when they should have been, as well the fact that the NAHC should have even contacted by law. The possibility that Native American burial sites are being dug up and removed with the consultation of the Tongva nation is illegal under California law, yet is happened anyways.

For more information:
Gabrielino Springs Website

The Tongva People

The creation story of the Tongva stems from the god Quaoar, which means creator.
Quaoar comes into being through chaos. He was sad that there was so much emptiness so he began to dance around and sang a creation song. from his song, other gods came to life; the God of Sky, Goddess of the Earth, Grandfather Sun, and Grandmother Moon.

All these gods began to dance together and even more beings were birthed. All these divine gods and goddesses danced and sang the creation song and created everything else in existence that we know today. The sea, mountains, plants, animals, and of course the first man and woman.

To read this story in more detail you can visit this website:
Tongva Creation Story

This creation story is based around song and dance, which the tribe still holds very sacred today. They believe that dance is a way of creating harmony with the earth, dealing with emotions, and celebrating.

The Real Locals of Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a rich culture of Native American history, and it currently has the largest Native American population in the states. The two biggest tribes of Los Angeles are the Tongva, also known as Gabrielino, and the Chumash.
Both tribes have a history filled with many stories, and many tribe members still live in their native home of Los Angeles today.