Los Angeles—or Yaanga, as it is known to the Tongva, the tribe indigenous to the area—is one of a growing number of cities that officially recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The city is also home to the largest indigenous population in the U.S., taking into consideration diaspora from Latin America and Oceania as well.
The Tongva here are still practicing their culture and in the process of reclaiming many of their sacred spaces. The tribe’s historical relationship with the Los Angeles River (well before it was paved) as a source of life, as well as estuaries and springs in the area, is increasingly becoming recognized in Los Angeles. For instance: Kuruvungna Springs, near Santa Monica, is a sacred spot to the Tongva, meaning “a place where we are in the sun.” Another is the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, where archaeologists found the oldest relics from the Tongva, instruments they believe were of astronomical use.
But you don’t have to head to a water source to learn about the native people of this land, how they originally populated Yaanga, and how they celebrate their culture. Read on for four ways to honor the Tongva for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
15th Many Winters Gathering of Elders
Grow closer to L.A.’s land and commune with the cultures rooted here with these four days of talks from indigenous elders and other community figures, covering songs, medicine, and more. October 10–13. Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 South Gaffey Street, San Pedro
Indigenous Pride L.A. 2019
Two strong L.A. communities come together to celebrate the intersection of their cultures at this LGBTQ+ Pride party combined with a two-spirit gathering for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. October 13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Autry Museum, Griffith Park, 4700 Western Heritage Way
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration 2019
Celebrate the holiday at Grand Park this year, where an assortment of cultural events will lead up to a concert at night. October 13, 4–9 p.m. Grand Park, 200 North Grand Avenue
The Ghost of Christopher Columbus Theater Smudging Spectacular
The Upright Citizens Brigade has begun an annual tradition of showcasing their best talent from the indigenous peoples of America. Curated and hosted by Joey Clift, of Cowlitz descent, Indigenous American stand-ups, sketch writers-performers, storytellers, and improvisers all gather for one night of delivering laughs. October 15. UCB Sunset, 5419 Sunset Boulevard