The Tongva People


Urban Toot is about Glendale, the lives, thoughts and perspectives of the people who live here. We thought it would be interesting to look as far back as possible to see who were the first people who lived in Glendale. These people were called the Tongva, they spoke that was part of a larger group called the Uto-Aztecan language of families and unfortunately the language has gone extinct.
The Tongva lived in what we now would refer to as Los Angeles but it appears that they made the San Gabriel Mountains their central point.  The name of the people has changed over history being called the Gabrielino or San Gabriel Band. The new name came because of the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel  which was established in 1771. This was not exactly a happy time in the history of the Tongva as that they were severely mistreated. The Spanish also confused the Tongva with another nearby group called the Tataviam and just started calling all the Indesious people Gabrieleño.
When the Mission of San Gabriel Arcangel was firmly created in 1771 The Tongva had a population of about 5,000, by the early 1900’s the Tongva culture was almost completely gone. While there are some records and historical artifacts, most of the Tongva language and culture had disappeared. However I do think it’s important to note that Loyloa Marymount University has archives of Tongva culture. It’s also of note that at this time there are about 1500 people who claim Tongva  or Gabreilino
as their tribe.
From what I read online that there is no one group that is recognized as the Tongva  (or Gabreilino) Nation. While the state of California does recognize the Tongva as a legitimate First Nation the Federal Government does not.
A few other random tidbits that I picked up:
  • The Tongva believed in a supreme being that brought order to the chaotic world by setting it upon the shoulders of seven giants made for that purpose.
  • To fail to show courage was the height of disgrace among the Tongva. Men would deliberately lie on top of red anthills and have handfuls of ants placed in their face as a demonstration of courage.
  • boys sought visions of their own special animal protector.
  • By the time the first American settlers arrival in the Los Angeles area in 1841, Tongva survivors were scattered and working at subsistence level on Mexican land grants. Disease further decimated the Tongva population.
You can read more about these very early first  people of Glendale at these Web Sites:
Steve O’Bryan is a resident of Glendale who loves where he lives. He runs Smack Smog Inc a Strategic Content company that helps Organizations reach their goals via the Internet and Social Media. He minored in History and likes to share what he’s learned. 

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