The Native American Community
Compiled by Clifton L. Holland
General census information
Los Angeles has the highest urban Indian population in the country, with over 150,000 people that identify as Native American who live in Los Angeles County. Having that history and having that number kind of goes along with the percentages in the Native American community in the U.S, where 60% of Native Americans primarily live in urban areas such as Los Angeles, Denver, Albuquerque, Seattle, San Francisco, to name a few, and then 40% live in rural reservations, villages or pueblos.
However, there are no federally recognized tribes in Los Angeles County. There are cultural groups that have inhabited the L.A. county area, which include the Tataviam, the Gabrieleno/Tongva, as well as the Chumash, but they are not federally recognized.
Maps of the Native American population in Los Angeles, 1990
The IDEA Strategic Mapping and Information Service, directed by Clifton L. Holland, has produced a series of computer maps on ethnic and religious diversity in the Los Angeles 5-County Region, based on the 1990 Census of Population. See the following links:
Los Angeles County: ../laco/nh-amind.pdf (note PDF format). Orange County: ../orco/d-amind.pdf (note PDF format).
Santa Rosa Island, one of the Channel Islands of California off the Southern California coast, is the site of Arlington Springs Man, human bones dated to 10,000-13,000 B.C., among the oldest remains discovered in the Americas.
The region that became Los Angeles was settled by the Tongva tribe, sometimes called the GabrieliÃ±os, thousands of years ago. A small, but distinct tribe of Tataviam natives lived in the northern San Fernando Valley and became known as FernandeÃ±os. The Cahuillas occupied the eastern deserts and mountains of present-day Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Far to the south were the Kumeyaay, occupying San Diego and Imperial counties. The large Chumash tribe occupied the coast from Malibu northward to San Luis Obispo County. The Channel Islands supported Tongva and Chumash, and their active trade with the mainland led the tribes to achieve what anthropologists regard as the finest boatbuilding skill among the North American tribes. Trade in raw materials and finished products spread across Southern California; soapstone from Santa Catalina Island passed from hand to hand to be traded for obsidian from the Paiutes of the Owens Valley, 200 miles inland. Pitch from seeps like the La Brea Tar Pits was another important trading commodity. Local tribes produced notably high quality baskets, some sealed with pitch, that are prized by museums.
Explorer Juan Cabrillo stopped at present-day San Pedro in 1542 and was greeted by Tongvan men who rowed out to meet his ship in their expertly crafted ti'ats. The explorer died later that year while wintering over at Santa Catalina Island and no European was seen again locally for 227 years. At the time of the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the late 18th century, there were an estimated 5,000 Tongvans living in 31 known village sites.
In common with other California tribes in the mission system, some Tongva cooperated with the missionaries, while others took up unsuccessful, armed resistance to European conquest. Native religious and hunter-gatherer practices were redirected into Roman Catholicism and agriculture. Though destructive of their culture and depriving them of their liberty, the mission system valued the individual Native Americans and employed them on the mission farms and ranches. When the missions were disbanded, the natives were thrown back on their own much-reduced resources. The Tongva tribe still exists, with perhaps a few thousand members but no reservation. The other local tribes that have reservations have survived and have achieved new prominence with the advent of Indian gaming.
Prepared for the Los Angeles County American Indian Children's Council
Heidi Frith-Smith, M.P.H., RD, Candidate for M.A.
Heather Singleton, M.A., Research Associate
UCLA, American Indian Studies Center
Since the 1950s American Indians have migrated to urban areas in large numbers. The impetus for this was the U.S. government's Relocation Program for American Indians. Between 1952 and 1970 the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) relocated about 100,000 Indians to cities in an effort to terminate Indian reservations and move Indian labor from rural areas. The BIA program was only part of the reason for migration. The push of poverty on the reservations warring with the pull of economic opportunity in urban areas was a powerful force (Champagne et al., 1996). Today, the urban American Indian population accounts for the majority of the Indian population (up to 2/3) in the United States.
Several characteristics are unique to the urban American Indian community. In Los Angeles County, the make up of the urban American Indian community is culturally diverse with more than 100 tribes represented (Champagne, 1996). Far from being a homogenous group, L.A. County's urban American Indian population represents a plethora of different cultures. Los Angeles County is also home to tribes indigenous to the area - the Gabrieleno/Tongva and the FernandeÃ±o, who live in scattered communities throughout the county.
Another aspect unique to urban American Indians is their wide geographic dispersion. American Indians tend to live among other groups rather than cluster together in homogeneous neighborhoods. As a result of this geographic dispersion urban American Indians are often overlooked; this can render them virtually invisible within the county. The cities that tend to have the highest clusters of American Indians in Los Angeles are Bell Gardens, Cudahy, El Monte, Norwalk, Pomona and Long Beach. An examination of service planning areas for Los Angeles County shows that 19 percent of the American Indian population resides in the San Fernando area, 18 percent in San Gabriel and 16 percent in South Bay/Harbor (Los Angeles County Children's Planning Council, 1996). Unlike other groups, urban American Indians are not covered by one county Service Planning Area (SPA), but instead are dispersed throughout the 8 SPA's. This can clearly affect service delivery.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of American Indians is the Nation-to-Nation relationship that tribes share with the federal government. This relationship extends to urban American Indians as well. Each member of the urban American Indian population in Los Angeles County is a member of a sovereign nation and as such, they are entitled to be seen as a political entity, as opposed to an ethnic group. The State and Federal government, in deference to this relationship, have created special "set-aside" programs specific to American Indians. Los Angeles County has acknowledged this relationship in the past, as well. After the Board of Supervisors created the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission in 1976, the county then advocated for special "set asides" for Community Service Block Grants to the urban American Indian community in Los Angeles. Lack of knowledge about this Nation-to-Nation relationship by county agencies can be a significant barrier to a full understanding of the rights of urban American Indians.
In 1997, the IDEA DATABASE for the Los Angeles 5-County Region contained the following Native American churches, sorted by clascode:
|BAPTIST||B2.2101||BGC||FIRST INDIAN BAPTIST CHURCH||9817 CALIFORNIA AVE||SOUTH GATE||CA||90280-4611||213-564-4161|
|BAPTIST||B2.2313||SBC||FIRST SOUTHERN BAPTIST INDIAN CHURCH||9325 STATE ST||SOUTH GATE||CA||90280-4213||213-569-3222|
|BAPTIST||B2.2313||SBC||SOUTHERN BAPTIST INDIAN CHURCH||1347 CAMEO LN||FULLERTON||CA||92631-2509|
|METHODIST||B2.3216||UMC||NATIVE AMERICAN UNITED METHODIST||12111 OLIVE ST||NORWALK||CA||90650-3131|
|INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTALIST||B2.406||IBCH||AMERICAN INDIAN BIBLE CHURCH||11214 BAYLA ST||NORWALK||CA||90650-7701||310-863-5022|
|INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTALIST||B2.406||IBCH||AMERICAN INDIAN BIBLE CHURCH||5840 MAIN ST||SOUTH GATE||CA||90280-7848||310-634-3421|
|INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTALIST||B2.407||IFCA||FIRST AMERICAN INDIAN CHURCH||2218 HANCOCK ST||EAST LOS ANGELES||CA||90031-3406||213-225-8376|
|PENTECOSTAL||B4.0401||AGGC||BELL GARDENS INDIAN REVIVAL CENTER||5602 E GAGE AVE||BELL GARDENS||CA||90201-1614||213-773-4357|
|PROTESTANT-UNCLASSIFIED||B5.0||PRXX||BRIGHTER DAY INDIAN CHURCH||11153 S BROADWAY||LOS ANGELES||CA||90061-1950||213-756-8434|
|PROTESTANT-UNCLASSIFIED||B5.0||PRXX||MUSCOGEE MISSION||4730 GAGE AVE||BELL||CA||90201-1313||213-589-2043|
|ANIMIST-NATIVE AMERICAN||D5.1011||NAUC||AMERICAN INDIAN UNITY CHURCH||9972 RUSSELL AVE||GARDEN GROVE||CA||92644||714-638-8116|
Note: The religious Traditions and Classification Codes (CLASCODES) used in this table are explained in A Classification System of Religious Groups in the Americas by Major Traditions and Family Types (created by Clifton L. Holland of IDEA-PROLADES Ministries, latest version 2007).
In 2007, the following churches were added to the database:
|Native American United Methodist Church of Southern California||800 S Lemon St., Anaheim, CA 92805||(714) 535-2429|
|Native American Adventist Fellowship||1111 W 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90017||(213) 481-2780|
|PCUSA Native American Ministry||6323 W. 80th St., Los Angeles, CA 90045||(310) 670-5076|
|American Indian Unity Church||13671 Glendora St., Garden Grove, CA 92843-3238||(714) 638-8116|
History of AIBI
In the late 1930's a Bible study in the Los Angeles, California area began, which later grew into First American Indian Church (FAIC).
A group of men from the FAIC began to talk about the need for a Bible training organization that would help train them to reach their own people for the gospel of Jesus Christ. As they prayed, the men began contacting various organizations that were working on different reservations. At that time, none of the organizations contacted had personnel available for such a ministry. However, the men of FAIC felt that the Lord was leading. In the fall of 1966, they organized the American Indian Bible Institute (AIBI) with their purpose statement taken from 2 Timothy 2:2: "...And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faitful men who will be able to teach others also." The goal? -- to help develop a second, third and a fourth generation of spiritual leaders that are equipped to then reach out and develop other leaders.
Soon after the beginning of AIBI, there were requests for Bible training materials for those not able to attend classes in the Los Angeles Area. The resources were made available in printed form to help with the development of Biblical leaders in other areas. Since then, additional manuals and training diagrams were developed and used in the extension program. They were designed for use by over 100 different tribes and bands in North America which soon proved useful in any culture as they were based on Biblical principles rather than culturally specific methods.
In 1999, several of the manuals were put on the Internet for easier access by former students and staff members. The results were beyond expectation as the Lord took the media of the Internet and brought them not only to staff and former students but to groups and individuals around the world.
In June of 2000 AIBI Resources became an official ministry of the organization to help develop this new area that provided the complement to the Bible Institute by reaching not only into their "Jerusalem and Judea" as commanded in Act 1:8, but also into their "Samaria and the ends of the earth."
The AIBI Team is also involved in various church planting, leadership development, and cross-cultural ministries in the Southern California as well as in some areas in Arizona.
Cultural and Ethnic Resources: http://email@example.com#native
Ne'ayuh, a project of Community Partners
Red Box, Angeles Crest Highway and Mt. Wilson Rd., 12 miles north of La CaÃ±ada
Project Director: Kat High
Celebrating native Americans in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles area is home to more Native American people than any other place in the United States. Some belong to tribes indigenous to California; others were relocated to the area from homelands outside the state. These are not the casino-rich Indians we read about in the newspaper. Typically, the Native Americans in the area don't belong to federally recognized tribes and or have land to call of their own.
This project consisted of a storytelling day to take place on the summer solstice 2003, at the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center in the Angeles National Forest, a gathering place for Native American people and others interested in Native American culture. The storytellers were members of the five major tribes of the San Gabriel Mountains area: the Tongva, Chumash, Tataviam, Serrano and Kitanemuk, as well as representatives of the Coastanoan Rumsen Ohlone tribe from Chino, CA, and a red/black Indian organization.
The day-long event, which is free and open to the public, will be videotaped for broadcast on a community college channel. "We hope that these stories will give a sense of community to the scattered Native American people of Los Angeles and provide non-Native people with a greater respect for our heritage, culture and traditions," said Project Director Kat High, a native California of Hupa descent.
PBS EXPLORES THE LIVES OF THE FIRST AMERICANS
DURING AMERICAN INDIAN HERITAGE MONTH - JUNE 2007
In Part One, A Seat at the Drum, journalist Mark Anthony Rolo sets out to learn how Native Americans in Los Angeles preserve a tribal identity, survive economically and cope with the pressures of a federal relocation program and assimilation in a multicultural metropolis.
In A Seat at the Drum, Ojibwe journalist and
playwright Mark Anthony Rolo seeks to learn how Native Americans in Los Angeles preserve a
tribal identity, survive economically and cope with the pressures of assimilation in a
challenging metropolis. His personal quest to come to terms with these issues leads
him to meet Native community leaders, Indians relocated from reservations, boarding school
students, Native business leaders and single parent families whose stories typify the
experiences of urban Indians.
In A Seat at the Drum, journalist Mark Anthony Rolo (Bad River Ojibwe) journeys to Los Angeles, the city that filled his imagination as a child, growing up on the poor side of Milwaukee with his Ojibwe mother, white father and ten siblings. There he meets many of the thousands of American Indian families who were relocated from poor reservations to the cities in the last half of the 20th century, creating the largest Native American community in the nation over 200,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Rolos journey begins at what has been the gateway to Indian life in Los Angeles the Sherman Indian School in Riverside, one of the last boarding schools created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the end of the 19th century. As Rolo says, Five generations of Indians from tribal reservations as far away as New Mexico, Montana and North Dakota have passed through Sherman on their journey into white culture. Children came to Sherman as Lakota or Creek but graduated as Americans. We meet Tara Baugus, a former Sherman student who teaches the Navajo language at her alma mater, which now embraces the teaching of the Native languages it once tried to extinguish. We also meet Randy Edmonds, a participant in the Federal relocation program of the 1950s who left Clinton, Oklahoma by train with hopes of a new job and a new life; Paula Starr, who runs the Southern California Indian Center, which helps second and third generation urban Indians connect with their tribal roots through classes in drum, dance and language; and Annette Phoenix, a single mom of four who relies on the center to help her teach her children about their heritage. Rolo also joins a mens prayer breakfast at the Indian Revival Center, where men from fifteen different tribes come together to discuss how they combine their traditional beliefs with their Christian faith.
Rolo finds that although relocated Indians seem to lose their tribal identity, indigenous California tribes such as the Gabrieleno/Tongva and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians strive to strengthen theirs. Original inhabitants of the Los Angeles Basin, the Gabrieleno/ Tongva tribe grasps threads of their original birdsongs, traditional ways and history in an attempt to gain Federal recognition, and with that, the golden road that the Pechanga have achieved. The Pechanga, a dwindling band before the National Indian Gaming Act was passed, are now so prosperous that Governor Schwarzenegger looks to them and other gaming tribes to help bail out California debt.
But how much Indian blood makes one an Indian? Does a Federal I.D. number entitle you to a share of the casino profits? Should Native Americans who have never lived on the reservation still be able to vote in tribal elections? And do the wealthy Indians bear responsibility for philanthropy toward the poor? Throughout his journey, Rolo finds reasons to rejoice and reasons for concern and, ultimately, his own seat at the drum.
American Indian Resource Center
Huntington Park Library
Michael McLaughlin (Winnebago), Librarian
6518 Miles Ave, Huntington Park, CA 90255-4388
The American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) was established in 1979 to meet the informational, cultural and educational needs of Native Americans in Los Angeles County and to make information about them available to the larger community.
The AIRC collection is the largest public library collection in the U.S. that focuses on American Indians. AIRC materials include audiocassettes, books, compact discs, films, magazines, microfilm, newsletters, newspapers, and videocassettes. Most of these materials can be checked out.
The collection attempts to cover the full spectrum of American Indian experience in the continental United States - from Pre-Columbian times to the present. Subjects covered include art, architecture, bibliographies, biographies, education, fiction, history, languages, literature, government relations, federal Indian law, tribal law, tribal studies (individual tribes) and geographic area studies (e.g., California Tribes).
AIRC has the only complete sets of Indian Census Records (1885 - 1940) and Records of the Indian Claims Commission (1946-1977) outside of the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Other government publications include copies of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 25) "Indians", treaties, tribal codes and bylaws, census rolls for the Five Civilized Tribes, and other historical records.
The Vertical Files (VF) consist of approximately 800 alphabetically arranged files by subject headings with unique significance to American Indians - notable individuals, organizations, Indian specific issues, and events - historic and contemporary.
The tribal and organization newspapers and newsletters collection consists of over 130 titles including both historic and contemporary publications.
AIRC has directories of the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices and tribal government offices throughout the United States and Alaska.
AIRC serves as an information referral center for and about American Indians - local, regional, and national - in a variety of subject areas including health, education, occupations, legal issues, economic issues, politics, culture, and cultural events.
If you need in-depth research assistance please contact the AIRC librarian to make an appointment.
American Indian NDN 101, an informal questions and answers forum, is held every third Saturday of the month from 1 5 PM. This is an open forum to ask questions and get some answers about American Indian history and current affairs. This forum is geared towards adults, high school to graduate students, professionals, and anyone interested in American Indians. If you have a specific subject of interest please contact the librarian in advance.
Tribes of Los Angeles County
The Gabielino/Tongva is the indigenous tribe of Los Angeles. Tongva means "People of the Earth" in the Tongva language. They are currently organized in different bands.
The FernandeÃ±o/Tataviam Tribal Government is the governing body for the FernandeÃ±o/Tataviam Tribe a Native American tribe of the Antelope, San Clarita and San Fernando Valleys in California. Tataviam means "People Facing the Sun"
Current Status of American Indians in Los Angeles
The following publications were produced by the UCLA Ralph & Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies:
Socioeconomic Characteristics of American Indians in Los
By Paul M. Ong and Douglas Houston
With Jennifer Wang and Jordan Rickles
Socioeconomic Status of American Indian Adults in Los
by Paul Ong
Policy Brief: http://lewis.sppsr.ucla.edu/publications/policybriefs/AIANAdultReport2.pdf
American Indian Adults in Los Angeles, California and the
by Paul M. Ong with Hyun-Gun Sung, Andrew M. Uchida and Julia Heintz-Mackoff
Policy Brief: http://lewis.sppsr.ucla.edu/publications/policybriefs/AIANAdultReport1.pdf
American Indian Children in Los Angeles, California and
by Paul Ong with Hyun-Gun Sung and Julia Heintz-Mackoff
Policy Brief: http://lewis.sppsr.ucla.edu/publications/policybriefs/AIANReport1.pdf
The Status of American Indian Children in Los Angeles.
by Paul M. Ong with Hyun-Gun Sung and Douglas Houston.
Policy Brief: http://lewis.sppsr.ucla.edu/publications/policybriefs/AIANChildren1.pdf
American Indian Social Service Organizations in Los Angeles
The work includes evaluation of texts, resource materials and fiction by and about Native peoples; conducting of teacher workshops, in which participants learn to evaluate children's material for anti-Indian biases; administration of a small resource center and library; and distribution of children's, young adult, and teacher books and materials, with emphasis on writing and illustration by Native people.
National American Indian Organizations
General Information Websites