Recognizing the city’s native roots
Glendale has been at the foot of the Verdugo Mountains for 97 years.
Gabrielino/Tongva Indians have been around the area a lot longer.
Spanish settlers found them here in the 1540s. On Sunday, a
dedication of a peak in the hills above the city reminded everyone
how recent an arrival Glendale really is.
A dedication Sunday at Tongva Peak, sponsored by the city, brought
together Native American dancers, local residents and city, state and
federal officials to celebrate the area’s indigenous roots and its
wilderness. Tongva Peak, a mountaintop in the Verdugos 2,656 feet
above the city and three miles northeast of the center of Burbank,
was christened. And later, officials and Indians came down to the
northern foot of the Verdugos to Camp Max Straus to celebrate.
The peak was named after the tribe, which for hundreds of years
lived in villages from Tujunga to San Bernardino and southwest into
the Los Angeles basin.
“It is an honor, on behalf of our tribe and in memory of our
ancestors, that we have not been forgotten,” said Anthony Morales,
otherwise known as Chief Red Blood, the tribal chairman and chief of
the Gabrielino/Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians.
It was the Tongva who were indentured by Spanish settlers to build
the missions. In time, disease and the force of settlement in the
West wiped out the villages, but Morales was quick to point out that
Gabrielinos still exist.
“As you can see, we are still very much alive,” he later told
nearly 100 people who gathered in the early afternoon at the camp,
just before going into a native blessing of the land ritual.
Last year, the City Council approved allocating up to $2,000 to
developing a memorial plaque for Tongva Peak in the Verdugo
Mountains. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names, county and state
officials have supported the naming of the peak.
“I’m glad,” said Gabrielino Michael Aviles. “It is like the city
of Glendale is recognizing who was here first.”
As the day progressed, a barbecue was held celebrating open space
in the Verdugo Mountains. It was sponsored by Volunteers Organized in
Conserving the Environment, or VOICE.
At the end of the day, “An Evening with John Muir,” a one-man show
on the pioneering preservationist, was to be performed by Lee