After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County where they own what amounts to a public park, yet they have no rights to it — and, more to the point, no police protection in the event of violence.
The Tongva community of Los Angeles, which is believed to be one of the largest indigenous groups in California, has a place in county records on property at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and West Olympic Boulevard at the border of the community. An old park located near the intersection is titled, “Tongva Homestead,” and the Tongva have used it as their homestead since 1786.
As of March, the Tongva no longer own the land on which their homestead sits, according to county records, but have long enjoyed it as a park and playground. In fact, they have been using the property, which is more than 100 feet wide by 300 feet long and is bounded on one side by Olympic Boulevard and on the other by West Olympic Boulevard, as a park for more than a century. That’s when county workers came knocking on the Tongva’s door.
“They called this morning and said the county was saying they wanted to see us about the Homestead issue,” Daniel Wong, Tongva elder, told the Daily Californian. “As soon as we saw the word, we thought it was an order to make us give back our homestead.”
County officials said they had no idea the Tongva had been using the homestead for more than a century.
“There’s nothing wrong with the Tongva living there; there’s some issues,” said county public information officer, Gary Soter. “The question is: Can they afford to defend it?”
If the question is simply whether the Tongva can afford to defend the property, the answer is “no.” The Tongva are in dire financial straits; the majority live below the poverty line and rely on government assistance.
The Tongva are also facing a host of other