An important new exhibit on the first people of Los Angeles County
Dr. Gary Stickel (Ph.D. UCLA)
Kizh Tribal Archaeologist
The Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area Nature Center held a well-attended opening event on November 7th for its remarkable new exhibit. In concert with the fact that this is Native American Heritage Month, the new exhibit is the most comprehensive exhibit on the true indigenous Indian Tribe of the Los Angeles Basin, the Kizh. The tribe is also known by the name "Gabrieleno." But the tribe prefers its ethnic name of Kizh as Gabrieleno was a name given to them by their Spanish Empire conquerors after San Gabriel Mission. The Center is administrated by Jackie Doornik of the San Gabriel Mts. Regional Conservancy which was originated by the late Dr. Ann Croissant. Ms. Doornik requested the exhibit's installation.
The exhibit showcases a detailed, colorful, large map of the entire Kizh Tribal Territory which covered parts of what is now five counties of which Los Angeles County is foremost.
The exhibit presents the present-day Kizh tribal members and how the tribe has inhabited their territory for thousands of years. Part of the exhibit presents their great 18th Century hero of the tribe, Toypurina. The tribe published a book on her entitled "Toypurina, the Joan of Arc of California." Her story is very similar to Joan of Arc's as she lead a revolt against the cruel Spanish Empire at San Gabriel Mission which also sadly failed.
Toypurina is unique in U.S. History as she is the only Native American woman who ever lead an armed revolt. There is a beautiful statuette of Toypurina on display in the exhibit created by the outstanding sculptor Rick Hill. Another part of the exhibit presents images of the recently discovered "Stonehenge of Los Angeles," the Big Rock Site. Dr. Anna Goldfield of Boston University published an article in the journal Sapiens with the title: "Six solstice sites that aren't Stonehenge" and she included the Kizh's Big Rock Site stating, in effect, that Big Rock is a world-class significant ancient astronomical site. The exhibit also has illustrations and text explaining how the Kizh voyaged on unique canoes to their four
islands: Pium'na (Catalina), Kiinkepar (San Clemente), Xaraashna (San Nicholas; also known as the "Island of the blue dolphins" after the very popular children's book), and 'Ichunash (little Santa Barbara Island). The Kizh islands are within the "Sea of Kizh" which is formally recognized by the State of California's Native American Heritage Commission which put it on its Sacred Lands File.
I gave an introductory talk and then turned over the proceedings to prominent Kizh including Nadine Salas (Tribal Vice-Chair), tribal Elder Albert Acuna and the youthful and technically sophisticated Michael Lemnos. They related to the audience how they felt about being the descendants of such an outstanding tribe and they clarified the present confusion about the tribe's true name which is Kizh.
The exhibit will be on permanent display at the Center which is open on Saturdays from 10 AM until noon. https://www.sgmrc.org/