Friday, June 25, 2010

Los Angeles, nee Yaangna

I learned a bit about early Angelenos this past Thursday...maybe I should call them Yaangalenos. Go ahead, groan.

I did know that native Americans in this area were named the Tongva, and that their central Los Angeles village was called Yaanga. After the Spanish came around and founded the missions--San Gabriel Mission in this case--most references to the locals took the name of the nearest mission: Gabrielenos, Luisenos, etc.

A search of Tongva at the Los Angeles Library got me this 1975 picture, with the notes: "Men walk down a path next to a Native American archaeological site roped off for excavation. Photo caption reads: "In dry Van Norman reservoir, archeologists examine excavations for evidence of 5,000 year-old Tongva Indians". Photo dated: Mar. 3, 1975. "

What's new in all this is that 10 or 15 years ago, you couldn't find out anything about Indian history in Southern California. Today, more and more information is available to anyone who bothers to look for it. I remember doing searches on Tongva and Yangna in the late 90s. Nothing. Try it today, and you get the Tongva Tribal Council of San Gabriel and the Gabrielino Tribal Council--both of which have information on the tribe's history and current projects, sites on language, culture, plants, you name it. The locations of Tongva villages have been mapped out--on the edge of CSULB, at University HS in West LA, one off the 110 Freeway at Anaheim, just south of Harbor College, Catalina Island and Palos Verdes east to San Bernadino County. Out of 31 named villages, not all have been located but the oldest found so far dates back 8000 years--near Azusa.

A copy of a map drawn in 2008 is available at the non-profit site Indigenous Ways, for a $25 donation. You might find one cheaper somewhere but the money goes to a good cause--youth programs and language preservation.

I thank the Lomita Railroad Museum and their speaker, Professor Emily Rader of El Camino College for sharing this information, and for letting me know that the top source of California History Books--especially on topics like this--is Heyday Books in Northern California/

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