Part 6: The uncertain future of the Tongva
By Galen Patterson
With no land to call their own, the Tongva/Gabrielino tribe is scattered around California. Previous plans to build a casino and unify the tribe with jobs, land, and income have failed. The Casino Project on the Gabrielino/Tongva website is all but empty.
Local resident Stan Raddon has researched the history of the Tongva and their connection to Lake Baldwin, located near his home of more than four decades in Arcadia. Raddon insists on helping the Tongva along with Lake Baldwin, and while the scientific details of his land-restoration plan are still being reviewed by Strategic Environmental & Energy Resources Inc. (SEER) in Golden, Colo., one thing remains steadfast in Raddon’s plan: The Tongva need to be involved.
Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 5
Raddon’s plan outlines an office for the Tribe on the property, the potential for the tribe to clean out the lake, and to watch and maintain it, as they once had before European colonists. According to Raddon, all of these things can be achieved while keeping the Los Angeles County Arboretum intact. Raddon’s plan appears to focus on helping the tribe succeed into the future. However, Arboretum CEO Richard Schulhof has a different kind of future in mind for the Tongva.
Schulhof says he would prefer to see the tribe actively engaged in the Arboretum through three methods. The first method would be helping educate the 17,000 schoolchildren who take field trips to the Arboretum annually. The second method would be for tribe members to give general tours of the Arboretum for the 400,000 annual visitors. The third method is for the tribe to contribute to expanding the Arboretum’s local history component through the use of engaging sign systems, designed to capture attention and educate. “Think of it as an outdoor history exhibit,” says Schulhof.
With what appears to amount to very specific volunteer work, Schulhof’s plan for Tongva involvement seems to focus on active preservation of Tongva history.
Tongva tribal Council Member Linda Candelaria says they have not yet discussed specifics of how the tribe will proceed with either of the plans, but has agreed to perform a ritualistic blessing at the completion of the Lake Baldwin restoration project.
On the backs of colonists and conquerors, Western civilization spread across the Americas, displacing, exterminating, and devastating indigenous people. The Tongva were no exception. However, while much of the land has developed, grown, and blossomed into the awe-inspiring, technologically-advanced society in which we find ourselves, Lake Baldwin is filled with mud, chemically-soaked sediment, and algae.