Site Held Sacred by Tongva Indians Stirs Debate

January 28, 2001

Source: Los Angeles Times

On January 28, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported a controversy over the birthplace of a god, "known as Wuyoot in older versions of Southern California Indian lore, [who] was the great captain of the Tongva (Gabrielino) Indians." The birthplace is located just to the west of the 405 freeway on Long Beach. The controversy concerns the exact location of "Puvungna, the Tongva Indian village where not just Wuyoot but Chinigchinich (Wuyoot's successor, who supplants him as chief lawgiver/god/cult-hero in later anthropological annals) was supposedly born...At least nine neighboring locations [are] identified by various anthropologists as likely sites for Puvungna." Cal State Long Beach decided to turn one of these sites into a strip mall. "To a good number of anthropologists, archeologists and Indians, however, this was sacred ground." There was physical evidence that the Tongvan had been on the land, but nothing to prove that the site is sacred. Challenges by those who nevertheless believe the site is sacred, and other legal challenges, have kept Cal State Long Beach from building its strip mall.