What Is the History of the Gabrielino Tongva Indians?

The Gabrielino Tongva Indians are the Native Americans who inhabited the Los Angeles Basin and the South Channel Islands in California. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence suggesting that the Tongva descendants migrated to Southern California around 3,500 years ago from the Uto-Aztecan-speaking peoples in Nevada.

The name Tongva was first recorded in 1903. While has been considered the self-preferred name since the late 1990s, there are still some factions that prefer the original name "Kizh." "Gabrieleño" or "Gabrielino," after the Spanish Mission San Gabriel Arcángel that first settled the area, is part of every official tribal name. Although it is believed that at one time there may have been at least five different dialects, the language became extinct in the 20th century, and only a reconstructed version is in use.

The Tongva were first under Spanish rule, then Mexican rule until California was ceded to the United States after the Mexican-American War. Although not recognized by the federal government, the State of California recognized the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation in 1994. Four organizations clash over issues of governance and the future of the tribe, each one claiming to be the leader of the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation. However, as of 2014, no organization represents the tribe as a whole.