Tongva Nation, Los Angeles, Gloria Arellanes
EcoJustice Radio

Sustaining the Legacy of the Tongva: Before and After “Los Angeles”


EcoJustice RadioHear the wise words of Tongva Elder, Grandmother Gloria Arellanes, as she shares the heritage of the Tongva people, who inhabited and stewarded the area referred to as the “Los Angeles Basin” as well as the Southern Channel Islands. Grandmother Gloria offers her insights about the state of our world, youth, elderhood and the inter-generational cycle of learning, as well as how we might honor proper protocols, First Nations and all that is Sacred, amidst the backdrop of increasing urbanity, and the numerous perils now facing our environment.

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In December 2018, a 6-3 decision by the California Coastal Commission allowed a massive expansion of oil operations in the Los Cerritos Wetlands, near Long Beach. This includes the drilling of 120 new oil/water wells and the construction of a 2,200-foot pipeline to extend across the Newport-Inglewood fault. Water injection drilling methods could increase output from 300 to 23,000 barrels daily and emit 70,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually.

STORY: Earth-Honoring Traditions of the Acjachemen with Spiritual Leader Adelia Sandoval

The oil will be sent to local refineries poisoning working class communities, mainly people of color, in West Long Beach/Wilmington. In a worst-case scenario, this project could spill 2.8 million gallons of oil, destroying wetlands, bay, and ocean waters along the coast. This unfortunate project, promoted as “wetlands restoration,” was approved using “overrides” even though it violates the Coastal Act. The Tongva and Acjachemen consider these wetlands to be a tribal cultural landscape and wildlife sanctuary. Many sacred and burial sites have been destroyed here already, very little is left.

Gloria Arellanes (Tongva) has over 50 years of experience as an activist and community health advocate, including service as Minister of Finance and Correspondence for the Brown Berets, administrator of El Barrio Free Clinic in East L.A., and coordinator of La Clinica del Barrio. She is a celebrated figure of early Chicana feminist nationalism in the U.S. and remains committed to the struggles of preservation of sacred sites, health issues, cultural diversity, and cultural education for Indigenous peoples, including her own tribal community, the Tongva people. She is a Grandmother Wisdom Keeper of the Morningstar Foundation, dedicated to sustaining indigenous ways of life through cross-cultural spiritual practices and education.

Interview by Carry Kim
Hosted by Jessica Aldridge from SoCal 350 and Adventures in Waste.
Engineers: JP Morris and Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 39

Updated 24 January 2021

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  1. Pingback: Indigenous Legacy: Intergenerational Wisdom for our Times

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