Home region: San Fernando Valley east to the Los Angeles basin to near San Bernardino, Santa Catalina, San Nicolás and San Clemente Islands
Language group: Uto-Aztecan
Historical background: Anthropologists today believe that the people known as the Tongva arrived in the Los Angeles basin sometime around 500 BC, eventually displacing other inhabitants.
The Spanish first encountered the Tongva in 1542, when Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo made landfall. Even though the Tongva inhabited both the mainland and islands, the language and lifestyle of these people was very similar.
Interesting facts: One of the major differences among island and mainland groups was that island dwellers mainly hunted sea mammals, while mainland groups hunted mainly terrestrial animals such as deer.
One of the most famous Tongva was Toypurina, a medicine woman who led a revolt against the Spanish in 1785. The revolt was put down, and after her trial, Toypurina was sent into exile at Mission San Carlos Borromeo, where she became Christian and married a Spanish soldier.
Friar Gerónimo Boscana, a Franciscan stationed at San Gabriel, wrote a famous treatise on Tongva religious practices, known as “Chingichngich.”
Today: There are several groups today representing the Tongva people, including the Tongva Band of Mission Indians of San Gabriel, the Tongva (Gabrielino) Indians of California, the Tongva (Gabrielino) Tribe, and the Gabrielino Band of Southern California Indians.