Today, Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated in California as a tribute to the people who preceded us on this land we call Los Angeles, California in these United States of America.
This day, the second Monday in October, has also been known since 1934 as Christopher Columbus Day, marking the day that Columbus “discovered” the Americas in 1492. In recent years, however, scholars and activists have challenged the notion of “discovery,” because so many Native Americans were already living here. On this day, we are invited to honor the land and learn more about the people who lived here before us.
Researchers at the School of Social Science at the University of California Los Angeles have created a fascinating online tool, called Mapping Indigenous LA, which offers multiple annotated, interactive maps that attempt to tell the story of the diverse peoples who lived here, most notably the Tongva and Tataviam, who were removed from their lands and displaced through governmental policies of settler colonialism.
“When we consider Pacific Islander and Latin American Indigenous Diasporas, Los Angeles has the largest indigenous population of any city in the US. While many would argue that there is not one Los Angeles but multiple LAs, what is less known is that there are multiple indigenous LAs, whose histories are layered into the fabric of the city,” report the project authors.
There’s quite a bit of interesting information on the site, easily presented on the maps. For example, did you know that American Indians from other tribal nations flocked to obtain jobs in Hollywood, becoming actors, directors and film technicians? Or that according to the 2010 census, 150,749 Pacific Islanders now dwell in California, with more than one-third living in Los Angeles?
There’s lots to explore, but some of the images take a moment to load and you may have to adjust your browser settings. But don’t give up or you’ll miss seeing some very cool maps, like this one below, created by our very own neighborhood’s namesake, Henry Hancock, in 1857.
We love a holiday that gives us an excuse to dive into a subject and learn something new and meaningful…so Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!