A defunct Angeles National Forest fire station is being transformed into an American Indian Cultural Center through a joint effort by the U.S. Forest Service and the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe.
Located at the intersection of Angeles Crest Highway and the Mt. Wilson toll road, the center will house exhibits displaying the historical and contemporary uses of the forest by American Indians, said Julie Molzahn, a U.S. Forest Service recreation officer. "American Indians are still using the forest to collect plants for medicinal uses, to hold religious ceremonies, to hunt and to collect materials for basketry," Molzahn said.
While the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe is leading the effort to establish the cultural center, members will describe the customs and traditions of tribes throughout Southern California, Molzahn said. Members of the Tongva tribe were called Gabrielinos by Spanish missionaries; today, the names are used together or interchangeably.
Volunteers currently distribute information about American Indians at the center on the weekends and perform renovation projects during the week. Cultural exhibits from the Chilao Visitors Center on Angeles Crest Highway are being moved to the American Indian Cultural Center and are expected to be in place within two months, Molzahn said.
Volunteers are needed to staff the center when it opens. For information, call Molzahn at (818) 790-1151.