Tel: (818) 347-9665 PST

Monday, December 31, 2018

Thanks to outgoing City of Los Angeles Councilman Mitchell Englander - Friend of The Museum SFV

On behalf of the entire current and former Museum of the SFV board of directors and advisors, we say, "Thank you and all the best" in Councilman Englander's next endeavor.

Council District 12, for which The Museum SFV currently resides in has been a partner and supporter for our events throughout Councilman Englander's tenure.

On December 13th, there was an emotional farewell, hosted by PALS (thank you Sue Bruno and staff), with former councilmembers such as Dennis Zine, current and former staff members, City of LA employees, LAPD officers, many supporters from local neighborhood councils, Museum board members, Northridge chamber members and many others whose lives were touched by Councilman Englander.

Councilman Englander's mentor Greig Smith will be taking over the position on an interim position January 15th until an election will occur in June.  Former Councilman Smith (with Michel Stevens) and staff members such as John Bwarie were instrumental in assisting The Museum launch way back in 2005.  

In one of the many memorable moments, current County of Los Angeles 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Councilman Englander praised one another on their work to support their constituents in the city and county.

Many friends and community members were in attendance.

John Lee, former Chief of Staff and a potential candidate for the council position was on hand to say goodbye to his boss too.

Nicole Bernson, current Chief of Staff and Semee Park, now Director of Operations for Neighborhood Councils were both in attendance.

The councilman singled out Millie Jones, Director of External Affairs who is retiring.

The Museum's long time friends from Wings Over Wendy's were in attendance too. Paul and Howard share a light moment with Michel Stevens, President of The Museum SFV.

For those that missed it, here is Councilman Englander's farewell to constituents from his weekly e-newsletter.

A Fond Farewell...

This final newsletter of 2018 -- my last as your Councilmember -- is more bittersweet than other holiday newsletters of previous years. The decision to leave City Council was one of the most difficult I've had to make in my lifetime. And while I knew saying goodbye would not be easy, in the period since I made this announcement, you, along with the constituents, friends, colleagues, and staff that I have worked with all these years have only made it more so.

Simply put, I've been overwhelmed by the memories and relationships that we have built together in the 15 years that I've served the 12th Council District. Whether as a Chief of Staff or as a Councilmember, service is a privilege unlike any other. Second only to marrying my wife and raising our two daughters, my time serving the 12th District has been my life's proudest achievement.

Never in a million years would I have thought my life would be so blessed. As a child, I was just a punk kid from the Valley who could have easily ended up on the wrong side of life. My family had little in the way of money and, for a time, we didn't even have a place to call home. It is only thanks to the love and support of my mother, brother, sister, uncles, a few kind mentors, and a community that saw more in me than I saw in myself that I was given the opportunity to be more than what my circumstances might have allowed.

This is the life experience that I brought to bear during my time on Council. I devoted myself to ensuring that families across Los Angeles could feel safe in their own communities and that youth who did not have the most support or resources at home could be given an opportunity to succeed. And, because of hard work -- not just my own -- but of staff and colleagues and the community which supported our efforts, we have made progress on every front.

We've founded and expanded the Devonshire PALS Youth Center which every year provides programming and opportunity for thousands of at-risk youth turning kids who might end up in gangs or on drugs into community leaders in their own right. Our partnerships with non-profits such as the North Valley YMCA have raised millions to provide families programming and opportunities to thrive. We grew our police force and equipped them with the modern tools such as on-body cameras that help them build trust and keep communities safe. We transformed our Fire Department into a metric driven agency and reduced response times for emergencies because, when it comes to matters of life and death, seconds matter. We passed legislation that will retrofit and improve tens of thousands of structures so that when the next earthquake strikes, our residents will be safe. We pioneered new park designs to make them accessible to all children regardless of ability, cleaned up and re-opened Chatsworth Park South, funded the reconstruction and repair of our pools, acquired and opened a new park at the historic Oakridge estate, and broke ground on a brand new 50-acre park in Porter Ranch which will serve as the gathering point for visitors and community members alike. We founded Clean Streets-Clean Starts which has expanded from a small, single pilot project in Northridge to a city-wide program that allows individuals experiencing homelessness to work with community beautification teams and do clean-ups of their local neighborhood while receiving job counseling and connection to services that put their lives back on track.

I could go on and on with this list of achievements. However, all of this is to make one point: nothing happens because of one person. Everything we've accomplished has come to pass because we as a community made it happen. The 12th Council District has among the highest rates of volunteerism, engagement, and civic participation of any area in the City of Los Angeles.

It is only because I am confident in the durability of this progress that I am able to make this decision to move on to the next chapter of my life. There will not be a single moment when the 12th District is without representation on the Los Angeles City Council. My staff will remain in place to ensure that we don't miss a beat when it comes to serving the people of our district. What's more, my colleagues on Council have agreed to take the historic step and hold a vote to seat a new Councilmember to serve the 12th district until a special election can be held. The individual nominated is no stranger to the 12th district. Greig Smith was my predecessor on the City Council and was already twice elected by the voters in 2003 and 2007. There is no person who can match his knowledge and experience in serving the communities of the Northwest Valley.

It is thanks to Greig, his wife Christine, and my staff that I leave my position on Council confident that the progress we've made will continue. And while I am proud of all we have achieved, it is not without sadness that I step away from the work and the relationships that have defined and enriched my life for the last 15 years. The experience is something I will always carry with me and treasure.

As we settle in for the holidays and prepare for the New Year, I look forward to spending more time with my family and the new opportunities that life provides. However, though I am moving on to a new chapter, my devotion, love, and gratitude for the community which has given me everything in life will always endure.

However you celebrate, I wish you the best for a holiday season filled with family and friends. May the New Year bring you blessings and joy and, until we meet again, my deepest gratitude for all the love and support you've given me and our community.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Campo de Cahuenga annual live re-enactment of Articles of Capitulation - Attend this event


This is an important FREE event that is for adults, families and students.

Sunday, January 13, 2019
Campo de Cahuenga
11:30 am - :3:30 pm
Free event

Campo de Cahuenga offers annual live re-enactment of Articles of Capitulation that occurred 172 years ago.

Experience where the Mexican American War ended in California which led to its eventual inclusion as the 30th State of the United States.

There will be a firing of an actual canon (four times - a record!), Mexican fiesta dancers, military encampment, food and beverages.

There will be various organizations with booths on site too.

City of Los Angeles Councilman Paul Krekorian, District 2 and David Ryu, District 4 are expected to attend and speak.

Tell your fellow students, friends and family members!

Support Campo de Cahuenga.

If you can, take the Metro Red Line to the Universal City station. Campo de Cahuenga is only steps away from the station!

FREE Parking in the Universal City Metro Red Line parking lot.

Donations and membership to Campo de Cahuenga is greatly appreciated.

Campo de Cahuenga is located at:
3919 Lankershim Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Brief history of Campo de Cahuenga...

In a serene park of native plants, within the heart of the ever burgeoning entertainment industry of the San Fernando Valley, sits an amazing treasure in California history, Campo de Cahuenga. It is the perfect place to reflect on the storied roots and romantic beginnings of the American West. Once nearly lost to history, the Campo is now recognized and protected by the city of Los Angeles, the State of California and the nation. It is the very birthplace of California as we know it.

The Campo is a place of celebrations. Each January, for more than half a century the events of 1847 are celebrated anew. In a reenactment of the signing of a document by representatives of Mexico and the United States that became known as the Treaty of Cahuenga, signatures of General Andres Pico and Lt. Col. John C. Fremont ended hostilities in the state, creating Peace with Honor. In two years, without first becoming a U.S. territory, California was fast-tracked into the Union. Manifest Destiny was realized. We were one nation from sea to shining sea. All Californians became one people-Americans. To this day, Campo de Cahuenga is a place for celebrating our multi-cultural contributions.

An adobe-like museum building dedicated by Los Angeles in 1951 serves the Campo today. Outside, a display of the latest excavation of the original adobe is on view, one that extends under busy Lankershim Boulevard. All around are the footprints of history. Native Tongva peoples knew this site at the strategic ford of the Los Angeles River. The first Californios walked here. Missionaries, rancheros, gold seekers, pioneers crossed paths here. The Butterfield Stagecoach once stopped at the Campo. A Civil War encampment was erected here. By stepping into Campo de Cahuenga today, on its grounds or through our website, visitors become the newest chapter in the hallowed Campo legacy.

Welcome to the Campo de Cahuenga. Bienvenidos a la Campo de Cahuenga. Managed by the Campo de Cahuenga Historical Memorial Association under the auspices of the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation for future generations. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 valley event highlights - Community Chevrolet Burbank Classic Car Show

The 2018 Community Chevrolet Classic Car Show in Burbank was held on November 4th.

Owned by the Fred Bell family since 1959, Community Chevrolet has always provided excellent new and used cars to citizens of Burbank and surrounding communities in the Valley, Glendale and Los Angeles.

Museum board members and friends attended and talked to classic Chevy car owners and spread the word about The Museum SFV.

Enjoy the cars!

Community Chevrolet is located at 200 W Olive Ave. in Burbank. 
Tel: (866) 456-3689 or visit

2018 Speaker Event Highlight - WWII history and special guest speakers

We are catching up on some of the many events of the last quarter of the year... enjoy and get ready to participate in ongoing worthwhile events and programming in 2019.

October 27, 2018

Franky Ortega, a National Board-Certified Teacher at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, presented a terrific overview of Birmingham General Hospital and how it has been transformed today.

He tied in several valley landmarks with historical perspective on WWII covering Lake Balboa Park, Birmingham General Hospital, Van Nuys Airport and Jue Joe Ranch.

A packed house listened intently to Franky discuss aspects of WWII.  

Several special guests spoke at the event, one of which is the granddaughter of Soo-Yin Jue. She walked attendees through the history of the Jue Joe Ranch, an old ranch with roots in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Portions of the ranch are still visible today off of Vanowen just east of Balboa. The Museum was very appreciative of her presentation, which is a big part of valley history.

Also speaking was a WWII Lieutenant Colonel Richard Kinder, a former prisoner of war, aftern being shot down on his 13th mission and was captured by the Third Reich!

(The Nazi rise to power brought an end to the Weimar Republic, a parliamentary democracy established in Germany after World War I. Following the appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor on January 30, 1933, the Nazi state (also referred to as the Third Reich) quickly became a regime in which Germans enjoyed no guaranteed basic rights. After a suspicious fire in the Reichstag (the German Parliament), on February 28, 1933, the government issued a decree which suspended constitutional civil rights and created a state of emergency in which official decrees could be enacted without parliamentary confirmation). 

Head of Wings Over Wendy's spoke too about the incredible heroism of veterans during this time. 

Wings Over Wendy's social group of WWII, Korean, Vietnam and other veterans meet every Monday morning in Woodland Hills. This incredible group also offers free speaking events about WWII history to any school or group in the valley.

A number of Birmingham High School graduates also attended and enjoyed reminiscing about the good ol' days while in high school and in this portion of the valley.

Additional photos of the event. Paul Denztel, (below right), who is also a historian really enjoyed the event too.

All in all an incredible event!

Thank you to everyone who participated and attended.

The Museum SFV - Please donate today to support history, art and culture of the valley

As we approach the end of the year, The Museum board would like to thank all of the existing and new members and donors to The Museum family.

For those that would like to join as a member and donor (and assist us with completing a modest $2,500 matching donation opportunity), please click on one of the links below.


Did You Know?

Unlike other organizations, 100% of your donations will go toward support programming, events and exhibits for The Museum SFV.

Please consider donating or becoming a member today.

Thank you,

Michel (Michael) Stevens
The Museum of the San Fernando Valley

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley board of directors and advisors wishes everyone the safest and happiest of holidays and the best in the new year!

The Museum has robust schedule of events with some very exciting and intellectually stimulating exhibits in 2019.

Based on enjoying the holidays and spending time with our families, The Museum SFV will be....

Closed on Tuesday, December 25th


Closed on Tuesday, January 1st

The Museum SFV will be open on Thursday, December 27th.

Thank you.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Luminaria Today - Campo de Cahuenga 3:00 - 7:00 pm Free family event; please attend

The Studio City Neighborhood Council is pleased to present LUMINARIA.

A free, family festival of light with live music, arts, crafts and history for all ages.

Sunday December 2, 2017 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Campo de Cahuenga, 3919 Lankershim Blvd, 
(across the street from NBC Universal)

Join us for an Evening of live music, arts & crafts, Cider, hot cocoa, Cookies, and the Luminara light show!

FREE parking in the METRO lot is in the Northernmost end of the parking lot you must display a LUMINARIA bookmark or eventbrite ticket on your dashboard.

This is a public event so the ticket is used to track how many guests we will be having, you don't need a ticket to get in.


Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Giving Tuesday - Today - please donate to The Museum SFV

It's here... Giving Tuesday

The Museum SFV would greatly appreciate a 2018 tax-deductible donation today.

100% of YOUR Museum donation is dedicated towards providing essential support for exhibits, events, tours, workshops, educational and outreach efforts, artifact collection and preservation activities. 

Our ongoing goal is to continue to preserve, promote and educate on the history, art and culture of the San Fernando Valley for Museum members, Donors, residents and visitors.

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley is a 501(c)3 organization. Tax ID: 26-1292402.

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Join Us - 12-1-18 FREE Pelota Mixteca Reception at The Museum SFV - 2:00 - 5:00 pm

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley is pleased to announce a special exhibit reception for Pelota Mixteca, on Sat., December 1st from 2:00 - 5:00 pm at The Museum in Northridge.

This is a free event for Museum members and guests.  Please RSVP.

Come on out learn about this interesting sport with a rich history dating back 3,000 years and meet local players who participate on weekends in the Hansen Dam area. 

“Pelota Mixteca in the San Fernando Valley,” will showcase via photographs and artifacts, a sport that originates in Oaxaca, Mexico and has become important to the retention and redefinition of identity and community among Oaxacan transnational migrants who currently reside in the greater Los Angeles area and play in the northeastern San Fernando Valley.

Several local players and at least one of the exhibit's photographer's is expected to attend the reception.

The two photographers to be highlighted include: Leopolodo Peña, currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at University of California, Irvine. His photographic work is centered on two themes: immigration and modern environment. 

Also, Daniel Oliveras de Ita is a Mexican Photographer and Anthropologist, candidate for a Ph.D. degree, at the Institute of Anthropological Research, UNAM. He has produced a documentary, Pasajuego, that features teams from both the United States and Mexico in attempt to document the transnational identity of the community of players.

Light food provided by Vallarta Supermarkets and refreshments served. Raffle prizes too!

Free Parking. Elevator Access.

The Museum is located at 

18860 Nordhoff St., Ste. 204
Northridge, 91324

(SE corner of Wilbur Ave. & Nordhoff St.)

Please contact us at 818-347-9665, and visit

Please RSVP for our food and head count.

See you on the 1st - bring a colleague, family member or a friend or two.

Thank you.

The Museum SFV - Closed on 11/22 and 11/24 - reopening on 11/27 -Happy Thanksgiving

The Museum SFV will not be open on Thursday, November 22nd or on Saturday, November 24th.

We will reopen on Tuesday, November 27th.

From all of us at The Museum SFV, have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. www.TheMuseumSFV(dot)(org).

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pelota Mixteca - NEW Museum exhibit - please visit and enjoy

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley is pleased to announce it latest exhibit, Pelota Mixteca, running through the end of the year at The Museum.

“Pelota Mixteca in the San Fernando Valley,” will showcase via photographs and artifacts, a sport that originates in Oaxaca, Mexico and has become important to the retention and redefinition of identity and community among Oaxacan transnational migrants who currently reside in the greater Los Angeles area and play in the northeastern San Fernando Valley.

The two photographers to be highlighted include: Leopolodo Peña, currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at University of California, Irvine. His photographic work is centered on two themes: immigration and modern environment. 

Also, Daniel Oliveras de Ita is a Mexican Photographer and Anthropologist, candidate for a Ph.D. degree, at the Institute of Anthropological Research, UNAM. He has produced a documentary, Pasajuego, that features teams from both the United States and Mexico in attempt to document the transnational identity of the community of players.

A reception is being planned with current players and VIP’s that highlight the sport.

The exhibit is FREE as part of regular museum viewing. 

Free Parking. Elevator Access.
The Museum is located at 
18860 Nordhoff St., Ste. 204
Northridge, 91324

Please contact us at 818-347-9665, and visit


The Museum speaker series - 11/10 - 2:00 Salute to Veterans; Free for veterans and their families;please join us

Have you ever wanted to sit down and speak and hear from our heroes, our veterans?

Are you a veteran that would like to learn about the Veterans History Project?

Veterans who served in the United States military, in any capacity, from World War II through recent conflicts will be onsite to discuss their service. As a salute to this annual, historically and ongoing important holiday, please join us for this special event.

Franky Ortega, WWII  Airborne Demonstration Team member, will introduce the veterans and the Veterans History Project. Together with the group Wings Over Wendys, they will lead a panel discussion with an open Question-and-Answer forum for the public. 

The purpose of the event is to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of local San Fernando Valley veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand their selfless service. Their stories are amazing and you will find each inspirational on this Veterans Day weekend.

Bring your father, mother, grandfather, grandmother or other family members that are veterans. Share your stories. Listen to stories. Enjoy this event.

All veterans and their families are FREE to attend this event.

If you are a veteran or family member and will not pay a fee, RSVP HERE.

If you are a non-veteran and will pay the $10/person, please RSVP on EVENTBRITE.

2) Walk-up okay, but please contact us at 1-818-347-9665 or email at to let us know you are attending and how many folks in your party.

Event Location:
The Museum SFV
18860 Nordhoff St., Suite 204
Northridge, CA 91324-3885

(SE Corner of Nordhoff St. and Wilbur Ave. - across the street from Arco station)

Parking:    FREE in Museum parking 

Elevator access:  Yes, The Museum is located on 2nd floor, suite 204

Please visit us on the web at

Visit The Museum’s blog too at
Tell a friend.  Bring a friend.

Franky Ortega is a National Board Certified Teacher at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (originally part of the Birmingham Hospital during WWII) and teaches Salary Point Credit educator courses on WWII for the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

He is affiliated with the National WWII Museum, WWII  Airborne Demonstration Team, and the 82nd Airborne California Historical Group. He regularly participates in static line parachute jumps from C-47s that were used during WWII and often teaches the general public about the sacrifice and service of our WWII veterans through speaking engagements and static displays at air shows.

The Museum's NoHo Walk It Off Tour - Sun - Nov 25th from 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm; please join us

Hello to all historic walking tour fans of North Hollywood (NoHo).

One of the most popular tours of the year, with our tummies full it is time for The Museum's Walk It Off  Tour, held this year on Sunday, November 25th from 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm.

Learn about real cowboys, pioneer families, movie television and recording stars, the Spanish conquest, Mexican ranchos, land purchases and sales of acreage, vast ranches and orchards, fruit, freight trains, wars, architecture, and much more! Tour highlights include:

  •     Amelia Earhart Statue           
  •     Academy of Arts & Entertainment
  •     Amelia Earhart Library (1928)   
  •     El Portal Theatre (1926)
  •     Tiny's Patio (1923)
  •     St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church   
  •     NoHo Arts District
  •     NoHo Fire Station #60           
  •     Lankershim Arts Center (1939) (S. Charles Lee, architect)
  •     So. Pacific Railroad Depot (1896)   
  •     Commonwealth Savings & Loan Building
  •     Weddington Family History       
  •     North Hollywood Masonic Temple Lodge 542
  •     Phil’s Diner               
  •     Lankershim Elementary School (Marilyn Monroe attended)
1) Purchase tickets in advance on EVENTBRITE (we appreciate this)

2) Walk-up okay, but please contact us at 1-818-347-9665 or email at to let us know you are attending and how many folks in your party.

Cost:        $10 per person       

Parking:    FREE street parking in area around park, library and church.

Tour meets promptly at 9:55 am - 

5211 Tujunga St. 
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Amelia Earhart Statue; NW corner of
Tujunga St. & Magnolia Blvd. (on corner of North Hollywood Regional Library)

Please visit us on the web at 

Visit The Museum’s blog too at

Tell a friend.  Bring a friend.

Thank you,

Michel Stevens


Bill Carpenter
Director of Historic Walking Tours

Saturday, October 13, 2018

10/13 Walking Tour to be held - rain or shine - please join us in Sherman Oaks

The Museum SFV walking tour of William Mellenthin ranch-style bird house homes will occur today at 10:00 am, rain or shine - please join us and bring a friend. Okay to walk-up and pay at the start of the tour $10/pp.

We are scheduled to enter at least one home today.
Walk-up OKAY - just contact us at 818-347-9665 and let us know how many people will be attending.
Meet at corner of W. Magnolia Blvd. and Longridge Ave in Sherman Oaks, 91423.
We will begin tour near a home located at 5219 Longridge Ave.

Bring a friend, colleague or family member today - kids are okay too!

Monday, October 8, 2018

10-27 Speaker Series - WWII and the SFV - special event

Please join us on Sat. October 27th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm as Franky Ortega, a National Board-Certified Teacher at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, will be the presenter on an interesting topic, WWII and the San Fernando Valley.

He will tie in several valley landmarks with historical perspective on WWII. Topics will cover Lake Balboa Park, Birmingham General Hospital, Van Nuys Airport and Jue Joe Ranch, an old ranch with roots in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Attendees will learn or re-learn about the history behind war-era elements such as air raid sirens that were placed throughout the Valley, many of which are still visible today. The impact of the Cold War and might of the valley aerospace industry will also be discussed.

Of course, Hollywood and the entertainment industry did its share during the war to promote the Valley. Mentions of epic WWII film scenes from Van Nuys Airport's "Casablanca" Marlon Brando's "The Men", Jimmy Stewart's "It's a Wonderful Life" will be reviewed.

Please RSVP and pay in advance with:  EVENTBRITE (Okay to walk-up and pay-call us to RSVP and mention many guests)
Cost:        $10 per person
Parking:    Free in Museum parking lot

RSVP:     1-818-347-9665, email at

Please consider inviting a family member, colleague or friend. 

Please consider becoming a Member or Donor today.

Come on out on the 27th for a terrific event.

History of Tongva Indians - Los Angeles; San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley

Here is a terrific article written by Annie Lloyd and seen on offering detailed background of the Tongva Indians in and around  Los Angeles, San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys.  Enjoy.

Click HERE to review a study of the Tongva Indians.

Los Angeles recently voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, joining several other cities around the country in an attempt to honor the people on whose land the United States built its empire. The story of L.A.’s birth often goes back to the first pueblo in the area, which became the official Los Angeles settlement in 1781 (as either El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles or El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reyna de los Angeles—historians remain unsure), but the pueblo didn’t arrive in a vaccuum. Settlers didn’t find themselves on empty soil prior to their claim on the area. Whose lives did they upend?

California was home to thousands of people before Spanish settlers arrived—around 350,000 across the whole state—and the Los Angeles Basin in particular was home to the Gabrieliño-Tongva people. The movements of the Tongva peoples set the stage for what would eventually become Los Angeles. Their footpath through the Sepulveda Basin was the original 405 freeway. The L.A. State Historic Park was formerly a fertile basin within a mile of Yaanga, the Tongva people’s largest known village in the area. The Hahamog'na, a band of the Tongva peoples, settled along the Arroyo Seco river, which now comprises Northeast Los Angeles.

Their influence on the eventual metropolis of Los Angeles extends far beyond their choice of location, though; the forced labor and enslavement of Tongva peoples is what allowed Spanish settlers and missionaries to develop their reach in the first place. When the Spanish arrived in Southern California, they sought fertile land to produce the crops they were hoping to cultivate. This led them to the bountiful San Gabriel Valley (the San Gabriel Mission is credited as the first location of Spanish settlers in the area that became Los Angeles). Craig Torres of the Tongva community, through UCLA’s Mapping Indigenous L.A. project, explains how, prior to Spanish arrival, the San Gabriel Valley consisted of a “concentric circle” of native communities, which the Spanish recognized and exploited—they subsumed inter-connected communities into the Mission system, which was easier for them than accessing isolated communities along the coast (the dual name of Gabrieliño-Tongva comes from forced assimilation at the hands of the San Gabriel missionaries).

Tongva tribal council member Mark Acuña explained to KCET’s Departures how, “In order to accomplish all that mission work, it was on the backs of Indians. There’s no other way to talk about it. We built the 21 missions. We worked the fields.” Junipero Serra was the founding father at many of those 21 missions, including Mission San Gabriel. Serra’s legacy of violence against indigenous peoples of California has led to criticism of his sainthood, as well as vandalism on statues of his likeness around the state.

The forced servitude led the Tongva peoples to revolt against the Mission. In 1785, a Tongva woman named Toypurina was approached by a fellow tribesman named Nicolás José. Toypurina had a reputation as a powerful medicine woman, and José sought her help to kill the mission’s padres. The plan was for her to use her talents to immobilize the Spanish priests while the male warriors killed them, according to KCET. The padres caught wind of the plot, and enacted a counter-plot to imprison the revolters, but Toypurina maintained her harsh stance against the missionaries.

During the subsequent trial, she defended her actions, saying, "I hate the padres and all of you, for living here on my native soil, for trespassing upon the land of my forefathers and despoiling our tribal domains," according to the L.A. Times. Her likeness can now be found in public art around East and South L.A.; her face covers a wall of Ramona Gardens, and a painted interpretation of her face is part of Pacific Standard Time’s LA/LA’s Oaxacan mural project at the Central Library.

What is now downtown also had a large concentration of Tongva peoples because it was originally the site of Yaanga, a large Tongva village. It was far enough out of Mission San Gabriel’s reach, so fewer peoples were forced to convert and work for the padres, but it was close to the original Los Angeles pueblo. As such, the Yaanga-based Tongva peoples were still exploited for manual labor. As the pueblo and early versions of Los Angeles grew, settlers encroached further and further into the Yaanga village. The center of the village was an old sycamore tree called El Aliso; historians place it near what is now an onramp for the 101 freeway, a stone’s throw from Union Station. 

After early settlers had enslaved and assimilated the Tongva peoples, the California Gold Rush and the path to statehood would further decimate their population. The U.S. acquired California in 1848, and a rush of Anglo-Americans came West to seek the reported wealth of the state’s gold. The gold was available in the northern part of the state only, but the rabid industriousness and entitlement of new California settlers made its way to the Southland and affected the Tongva peoples in equal numbers. With the promise of gold, and by association money and power, came the desire to turn California into a state. This led to a disregard of previous treaty practices that had granted land to the peoples, leaving most indigenous populations homeless, according to KCET. Downtown Los Angeles saw a de facto slave market of Tongva labor emerge, where people were imprisoned for being homeless and forced to work off their bail, often paid in liquor instead of cash. Chief red blood Anthony Morales told KCET’s Departures that “as time went on, as society started changing, we needed to blend in with the other ethnic groups in Los Angeles because there was a bounty on us. We had to blend in with different cultures and become part of their societies. We were thought of as the lowest people, ethnically and race-wise.”

Around that time, President Fillmore instructed three U.S. Government Treaty Commissioners to draw up treaties granting land ownership for California indigenous tribes. The treaties were never ratified by the U.S. Senate after California business interests had lobbied against them, and they remained under an “injunction of secrecy” until the turn of the century, according to the Gabrieliño-Tongva Tribe official history. After the treaties came to light, the California Jurisdiction Act of 1928 allowed the California Attorney General to represent the Gabrieliño-Tongva peoples—who were not among the tribes with original treaties— and declared the unratified treaties as grounds for the peoples’ own claims to land. After new legislation in 1946, the Indian Claims Commission could address relief for individual members of the tribe, eventually reaching a settlement in 1972 to award $633 to each living member for the stolen land. Contemporary land claims for the tribe were still unsettled.

In 1994, California signed Senate Bill 1134, which finally recognized the Gabrieliño-Tongva under state law. There were approximately 5,000 in the Tongva population in Southern California when Europeans made contact with their land. As of 2008, 1,700 people are documented as members of the Gabrieliño-Tongva tribe.