Thursday, February 13, 2020

LA Natives lived on beach 7,000+ years ago

Vickey Kalambakal (, 5/3/11); Xochitl, Dhr. Seven, Sol (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Why isn't this Native American map in our history books? Fully inhabited before invasion.
This flat-topped rock with markings was found in 1927 by accident. It was removed from its disturbed archeological location, and now nothing may be factually established about it.
Lies My Teacher Told Me
Who lived on the Hill in Palos Verdes before the fancy red-tiled roofs and golf courses were put in?

Lots of people, it turns out. The main ones were the Tongva. Parts of the Palos Verdes Peninsula were inhabited 7,100+ years ago — before Stonehenge or the Pyramids of Giza were allegedly built.

How do we know? We mostly know it from accidental discoveries made prior to building homes and schools. Bring in a backhoe and boom—all sorts of things get unearthed. Unfortunately, they don't come with an explanation sheet.

Take the flat-topped rock with ancient drawings (shown above). In 1927, it was found in the hills above Portuguese Bend. Who carved it and what did it mean? No one knows.

One of the richest treasure troves found in Palos Verdes, archeologically speaking, bordered Torrance on a bluff overlooking Malaga Cove. USC and the Southwest Museum excavated the area in 1936 and 1937 and found thousands of Native American artifacts (Los Angeles Tongva):
  • arrowheads
  • mortars and pestles
  • scrapers and spoons made from abalone
  • beads and art objects
  • bone tools
  • shells and bones from food animals like mussels and birds.
Native Tongva village, Los Angeles basin, living between mountains, foothills, and sea
Even back in 1936, excavators heard of earlier "souvenir hunters" who had been collecting fish hooks, arrowheads, and other objects in the area for years. One man said he'd dug up a tule and reed boat, but he threw it out because it seemed worthless to him.

Eventually, archaeologists used radiocarbon dating on the animal remains and found the Malaga Cove site had been inhabited by humans for at least 7,100 years.

The early Native inhabitants found so much game, seafood, and wild plants in the area they never needed to develop farming.

The earliest people apparently ate shellfish raw; it's only in the second-oldest layer that scientists find evidence of cooking fires and grinding stones. Graves and skeletons were also found in the second level.

In a third level, archeologists discovered cremated remains. The diet had changed again, and the bones of seal, otter, porpoise, deer, coyote, and rabbit were found on this level.

Most recently — between 1,000 and 235 years ago — a group called the Chowigna lived in Malaga Cove and at other sites in Palos Verdes. They were part of the larger Tongva (Kizh) tribe of Los Angeles.

Abuse is Roman Catholic
The Spanish called the Tongva "Gabrielinos," because the invading Spaniards had a concentration camp to subjugate the Native population called Mission San Gabriel (in the San Gabriel Valley next to the San Gabriel Mountains), which was the site of the original Los Angeles. It was the nearest outpost of imperial Spanish invasion utilizing Catholicism, where Native children and adults were sexually abused and stripped of their identity -- a "rape camp" and European programming center that forbade Native languages and other expressions of indigenous culture, Christianized the captives, and killed most of the population through disease and despair, separating children from mothers and mothers from husbands and husbands from communities. We celebrate the "California Mission" system and are largely unaware of its actual purpose as Spanish imperialism laid waste to Alta California or "Upper Mexico."

The Tongva might have settled in the Los Angeles basin many thousands of years ago, but centuries passed before a group resided in Palos Verdes. The Tongva and Chowigna spoke a Shoshonean dialect of their Uto-Aztecan language more related to the Native language of the area, Nahuatl, than the invading Spanish of the colonial invaders.

Chowigna villages stretched from the South Bay to Catalina Island. In Palos Verdes, a plaque at Malaga Cove Intermediate School acknowledges the Chowigna people who lived in Malaga Cove.

The biggest village in the area, however, was believed to be at Machado Lake, between Gaffey Street and the 110 Freeway. It was called Suang Na. Archeologist William J. Wallace, who taught at Cal State Long Beach, found at least 70 more inhabited sites on the Peninsula in the 1950s and 1960s, but he did not excavate all of them.

The Tongva lived on Catalina Island, too, and as far out as St. Nicolas Island. These folks traded with the mainland. Stearite (soapstone) from Catalina has been dug up in Palos Verdes, carved into ornaments and cooking pots.

Some of these pots bear traces of jimson weed (tolachxl or tolache, datura moonflower), a narcotic plant probably used in rituals, according to Wallace, who was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times in 1971.

We know the names of those villages and tribes because of Vatican/Roman Catholic Church concentration camp baptismal records from the San Gabriel Mission listed the "home towns" of the Native American Amer-Indians baptized there.

Early colonial Europeans noted them as well. One source said San Pedro Beach was called Sow-vingt-ha, for example, which sounds like both Chowigna and Suang Na.

The Spanish missions interrupted life for the Chowigna. At the Malaga Cove site, the most recent artifacts found nearest the surface were glass beads the Spanish brought. An estimated 150 people lived at the site in its last days, circa 1775.

The Chowigna moved to the mission — forcibly or by trickery, such as the abduction of family members — and were exposed to European diseases that killed hundreds of people.

The Other Slavery (Andres Resendez)
Forced labor (called slavery in most parts of the world) and other Spanish practices, like the breakup of family groups to live in men's and women's dormitories, disrupted and nearly destroyed the Tongva customs and culture.

Throughout generations, California passed from Spanish to Mexican to U.S. control. The Tongva were one of 18 tribes promised reservation land after California became a state.

But those promises were broken by the US. Tribes (nations) were scattered; languages and culture were completely outlawed, punished by imprisonment, torture and death, destroyed, and are now "lost."

Today, several websites represent the Tongva or Gabrielino people. Descendants of clans are slowly and painstakingly piecing together what can be recovered of their history, before and after European invasion, occupation, and colonialism. They're redefining what it means to be Tongva. Source

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