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What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin?

A photo from the Gabrielino Trail located in the mountains above the San Gabriel Valley. This type of natural habitat is what the Tongva tribe originally called home. – Courtesy photo

Editor’s Note:

In last week’s newspaper, reporter Galen Patterson inadvertently stated that Baldwin Lake contains blue-green algae. According to Arboretum’s CEO Richard Schulhof, trained county personnel had just finished testing Baldwin Lake last week and determined “Baldwin Lake has no blue-green algae at present, nor is there any evidence that has had blue-green algae at any time in recent years.” Arcadia Weekly apologizes for the error and can assure the public that the Lake is, in fact, safe and poses no harm to the community. Again, we apologize for the error.

Part 5: The Tongva

By Galen Patterson

The Tongva have lived in the San Gabriel Valley for millennia. A skeleton found in the Brea Tar Pits is believed to be a female Tongva member and places them in southern California around 7,000 years ago.

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 1

According to the research of doctoral candidate in 2006, Rosanne Welch, the Tongva are believed to be a branch of the Uto-Aztecan natives, stemming from the Shoshone and migrating through New Mexico and Arizona before settling in the Los Angeles flood plain. They lived as a semi-nomadic, coastal hunter/gatherer community, subsisting off of staples like acorns, pine nuts, deer, and quail.

Typically, the Tongva moved with the seasons, living in communities of between 50 and 500. Some villages are believed to have been more permanent and perhaps did not move much, if at all. Generally, these settlements would have been larger and close to an abundance of natural resources. This is believed to be the case with Aleupkigna, which translates into “place of much water,” referring to Baldwin Lake.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum currently has a small section of the grounds depicting Tongva structures, called kiyas.

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 2

When the Spanish Mission System reached the San Gabriel Valley, the eventual forced assimilation of the Tongva triggered a rebellion which brought the tribe to near extinction. More than 200 years later, the tribe has still not recovered.

Linda Candelaria is the longest running tribal council member still active. She says the Tongva/Gabrielino tribe has lost everything.

The Tejon Pass area in North Los Angeles County was once a reservation for the tribe, but the treaty was lost, the land was sold, the tribe was evicted, and American expansion continued. Candelaria also notes that the treaty was discovered in a desk drawer somewhere at some point, but the details are unclear.

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 3

Displaced, the tribe is now scattered, and has been for generations. “Many of our members live up in the Fresno area,” said Candelaria. Some still live in the San Gabriel Valley, and Candelaria herself, lives out in the high desert.

Without any land to live on or income to ease the cost of maintaining their heritage, the main office for the tribe is now located in Candelaria’s home, where she has had to pay for heightened security to protect the documentation that distinguishes the Tongva/Gabrielinos from anyone else.

The tribal council estimates 80 percent of the tribe is living below the poverty line, which is a high number and easily correlated with other groups of displaced indigenous groups in the U.S.

“It kills me that we have no money to help,” said Candelaria. Furthermore, to help tribe members in need, the council members have been known to give money from their own income. Candelaria has been on the Tongva/Gabrielino council for 12 years, and says it has only cost her money. “I keep doing it for my grandchildren and children, maybe someday we will have something that is ours,” she said.

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 4

Currently there is no official plan in the works to give the Tongva so much as a tribal office or meeting ground; however one person is working on a plan that could perhaps help the tribe keep their heritage alive in a place and method that would be ideal for their circumstances.

More on the story next week.

July 5, 2018

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Galen Patterson


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