After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County that stretches north to the Mexican border and south to the Santa Monica Mountains.
Tongva’s homeland is known for the Tongva Nation Tribe, which has lived among the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California for more than a century — and for its vast lands, which once yielded the largest and best-known avocado trees in the world.
And for Tongva and the Tongva Nation Tribal Government, those lands are in limbo: The tribe’s government has been placed under the control of the federal government under the Indian Reorganization Act, despite a Supreme Court ruling that it is not a sovereign nation, and its members have been threatened with termination of their federal citizenship in 2018, 2020, or beyond (if the tribe is still recognized as an Indian tribe).
“We have land that was part of the Tongva Nation’s, and now the federal government’s … sovereign,” said tribal member and spokesman Andrew S. Loyacano. “There’s a difference between being a sovereign nation with sovereign powers, and being a sovereign people. Our sovereign people are sovereign.”
At a press conference at the tribe’s headquarters this morning, Loyacano, who was representing the tribe, was flanked by members of the Tongva Nation Tribal Government, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Tribal Justice, and Southern California’s County Board of Supervisors.
They outlined the plight of the Tongva Nation under the jurisdiction of the federal government, with more than 50 percent of its lands being designated a National Monument that could be declared to be a national space. As a sovereign nation, the tribe has sovereign powers, under federal statute, but its people are not sovereign. The people were removed from the Nation of Tongva in 1934 as a condition of the Tongva’s federal recognition