The Tongva, renamed the Gabrieleno by the Spaniards, are the original peoples of the Los Angeles Basin. Their land stretches from Malibu, known as “Ongobeangna” in Tongva, to Balboa, called “Mayongna”.
Their land encompasses the entire Los Angeles Basin from the Santa Monica Mountains to Redlands, known as “Kaawchamangna” They occupied the four southern Channel Islands and lived from the sea, “Momat”, to the San Gabriel Mountains or “Hidakapu” as the Tongva call the great blue mountain range. They lived in permanent villages usually along or near rivers and streams and built marvelous houses out of willows and reeds.
The Tongva arrived in the area 7000 years or so ago, and their culture was almost wiped out in 1776 with the arrival of the Spanish. The Tongva from such neighboring villages as Kukamongna, Asuksangna, Momwa-momutngna, Toibingna, Torojoat-ngna, Winiingna, Chokiishngna, and Wa’aachungna as well as many other villages, were all rounded up and taken to the village of “Sibangna” where they were used to build the San Gabriel Mission. These villages became Cucamonga, Azusa, San Dimas, Pomona, Claremont, Covina, and Santa Fe Springs, and San Bernardino. The Tongva were also used to build the adobes that can still be found throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Despite the European incursion, the Tongva have remained an integral part of the Southern California community. Their presence is well documented. Their existence is preserved in records of the three local Catholic “Missions” and the “asistencias” and in records of local cities and of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. A mistaken notion that they are extinct developed. But they have survived! They are here!