Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Official: San Gabriel Mountains are sacred land

Celene Vargas (, Aug. 3, 2017); Xochitl, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly

"Toypurina: A Native American Story" play at the San Gabriel Mission (

California orange crate art: the San Gabriels
Along with orders by the Trump administration that can jeopardize the future of at least two dozen national monuments, a small reprieve has been given to those who are fighting to preserve nature: the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) has officially recognized the San Gabriel Mountains as sacred land.

The mountains -- one of the monuments currently under review, which were designated as a national monument by Pres. Obama in 2014 -- are intertwined with the origin story and history of the local Kizh/Tongva tribe.

Toypurina in urban LA mural art (WQ)
Called "Gabrieleños" by Spanish invaders and subsequent colonialists after the San Gabriel [Saint Gabriel] Mission, which was the first "pueblo" in what became the megalopolis Los Angeles.

The full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula, which in English means "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of [the L.A. River we call] Porciúncula" (the queen being the Queen of the Angels, an honorific of the Virgin Mary).
    Medicine woman, elder, leader Toypurina
  • (Wiki) The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva/Kizh (Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes thousands of years ago. A Gabrielino settlement in the area was called the "poison oak place," Iyáangẚ, or Spanish Yang-na (Bright, William; 1998, Fifteen Hundred California Place Names, University of California Press, p. 86). Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese-born explorer, claimed the area of Southern California [north and south, Alta and Baja, "Upper and Lower"] for the Spanish Empire of the Kingdom of Spain in 1542, while on an official military exploratory expedition moving north along the Pacific coast from earlier colonizing/colonial bases of New Spain in Central and South America (Willard, Charles Dwight (1901). The Herald's History of Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Kingsley-Barnes & Neuner. pp. 21–24. Retrieved September 29, 2011). Gaspar de Portolà and Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769. The Spanish Period (1771-1821) In 1771, Franciscan friar [rapist, terrorist, war criminal, and Catholic saint] Junípero Serra directed the building of the [concentration camp] Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, the first mission in the area (Leffingwell, Randy; Worden, Alastair; Nov. 4, 2005, California missions and presidios. Voyageur Press. pp. 43-44). On September 4, 1781, a group of 44 settlers known as "Los Pobladores" founded the pueblo they called [what became L.A.] More
Image of Toypurina is not based on anything.
[The San Gabriel Mission was built as a fort for imperial troops and a concentration camp for the captured indigenous peoples forcibly converted to Catholicism. It is where the Native American heroine Toypurina (the Native American Joan of Arc) was enslaved and planned a revolt but was found out when a soldier who understood the native language overheard the slave-prisoners plotting].

The mission/camp was originally built by the Spanish, part of their expansive territory that is being honored includes the San Gabriel Mountains, and burial sites can be expected in the area, according to the application submitted to the NAHC.
The concrete LA River has many tributaries like the San Gabriel River watershed (KPCC)
“This is very welcomed news,” said Gary Stickel, who is tribal archeologist to the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians/Kizh Nation. “We’re going to use that to help [protect the land].”

Stickel has a Ph.D. from UCLA and taught there before retiring. The status was granted in March, but the NAHC did not notify the tribe until about three weeks ago.
Sacred Native American find
The biggest sacred find in the mountains was the presence of To-tah́ yo-o-ēt, or "Big Rock," a boulder with pictographs painted on the sides [such as Giant Rock in neighboring Mojave] and a ridged hole on top in what is believed to be the shape of a cogstone or sunstone in honor of the sun deity, Tamit.
The pictographs include zig-zag lines that represent the mountains and rows of dashes that could represent the pine trees that the ancient Kizh or Tongva believed were their living ancestors, as well as handprints. The boulder is believed to have been used for ceremonies.
Although the mountains are now officially recognized as sacred on top of being a national monument, it does not really grant any additional protections, Stickel said.
Colby wildfire, San Gabriel Mountains under full moon, Azusa (Stuart Palley Epa/Guardian)
Rivers, waterfalls, pools in the San Gabriels
On April 26th, Pres. Trump signed an executive order in which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will review monuments that are over 100,000 acres, including after expansion, or designations or expansions that are determined by Zinke to have been made without “adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders,” according to the executive order.
The executive order also states that designations should “appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.”
Six of the monuments under review are in California, including the San Gabriel Mountains, and they are in danger of losing the protections the status has granted them.
“It’s giving us some argument, but still, us as a state-recognized tribe, we have very few rights on our side to protect our resources,” said Christina Swindall-Martinez, secretary for the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians/Kizh Nation.
“Sometimes, no matter how much we fight, developers and governments win.” Source

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