Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Tongva Native American Garden (and Tibet)

When the world was a garden: Los Angeles' original inhabitants the Tongva tribe
Pitzer College has a hidden treasure: a Native Tongva Garden (
Native American Tongva, Chumash, Anasazi (Hopi, Puebloan peoples), and in fact all indigenous people made use of all of the plants at hand.

Berries were abundant, particularly a local favorite [alongside elderberry], the manzanita (Spanish "little apple") a.k.a. madrone. Sobochesh, as it was known to the Tongva, was useful to eat, drink, and use as natural medicine.
A lotion made of leaves is an excellent treatment for treating exposure to poison oak, or they can be simmered into a tea to cure diarrhea, urinary infections, and headaches, a poultice for skin sores... The blossoms are also useful.

Arroyo Seco Foundation (facebook), March 22
While berries are wonderful, every plant is useful, from yucca to sagebrush to wild buckwheat to black sage and, of course, sacred white sage... Pitzer College, at the eastern extreme of modern Los Angeles County, at the base of massive Mount Baldy, has prepared a hidden treasury of plant uses and folk cures.

Other Tongva Indians will be on hand along with Wisdom Quarterly this Saturday for the Fourth Annual Hahamongna Walkabout in JPL's front yard in Pasadena.

Native American (Tibetan) Buddhism
Native Wm Leclair with Buddhist brothers (BP)
What is the Buddhist connection? Not only are the similarities between the "Indians" of India, Ladakh, Tibet, and the mountainous parts of Asia -- the Karen, for example, and other tribes in Burma, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal -- and the "Indians" of America patently obvious to anyone who looks, there is a historical reason for it.

Gomari, Tibet/China (Rietje)
Hendon Harris (Chinese Discover America) helps us understand, and Rick Fields laid it out in How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in [Ancient] America. But as early as 1885, American historian Edward P. Vining knew that a group of Buddhist monks from Afghanistan had come to the New World, that is, long before Columbus, they "discovered" America and brought the Dharma to the Native Americans. See An Inglorious Columbus about the Buddhist discovery of America.

Native dance, Hemis Gompa (Stella Peters)
Harris, responding to Native American Buddhism and Tibet, writes in to ask: In Wisdom Quarterly's opinion is the Native American "Ghost Dance" revival movement, which started in approximately 1880 and ended violently at Wounded Knee in South Dakota in December 1890, directly related or religiously or culturally linked to the Tibetan "Ghost Dance" tradition celebrated to this very day? Please explain the reasons for your opinion.

ANSWER: Hendon, we only know it's possible, and we wouldn't be the first to notice. We will have to consult with our non-resident expert, H.M. Harris, to see if it is probable. (We hope he reads this and sends us the answer soon).

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