Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A History of the Kizh (Orange County’s Native Inhabitants)

The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.


Pre-European Era

For nearly 8,000 years, the area currently known as Orange County was inhabited by a tribe known as the Kizh.  They were a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe who lived on an area of nearly 4,000 acres.  They lived sustainably off the native plant and animal life.  The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits holds a 7,000 year old skeleton of a Kizh woman.

The Kizh had a rich language, culture, social structure, and religion, involving song, dance, poetry, and handicrafts.  Their religious beliefs viewed humanity not as “the focus of creation” but rather a part in a larger web of life.  The primary religious responsibility of people was to act as caregivers of the earth. 


Mission Era

Beginning in the 1700s, the Spanish Government began to establish “Missions” in Kizh territory.  Mission San Gabriel was built in 1771.  Spanish soldiers and padres began calling the Kizh “Gabrielenos” because of their proximity to the Mission. 

Many Kizh were forced to abandon a way of life they had practiced for millennia, into the Missions, where they were “converted” to Christianity and compelled to work and live.  Native American scholar Edward D. Castillo writes, “Despite romantic portraits of California missions they were essentially coersive labor camps organized primarily to benefit the colonizers.”  Because of diseases and conflict with the Spanish colonizers, about 100,000 or nearly a third of the total Native American population of California died as a direct result of the California missions.


Mexican Era

In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and California became a Mexican territory.  In 1834, Governor Jose Figueroa issued an “Emancipation Proclamation” which freed California Indians (including the Kizh) from the missions.  Rather than returning the land to its native inhabitants, however, the vast majority of mission lands were deeded to a few wealthy and powerful California families. 

Because of disease and the breakdown of traditional tribal structures, many Kizh were compelled to work on these “ranchos” to survive.  Scholar Roseanne Welch compares the post-mission rancho system to the post-Civil War sharecropping lien system in the former Confederate states, which “kept the workers tied to their bosses, in this case the ranch owners.”

On the eve of the American conquest of California, the native American population of the region had declined by 50 percent.


United States Era

In 1848, after the Mexican-American War, the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo gave the United States ownership of California.  In the early 1850s, U.S. Government Treaty Commissioners appointed by President Fillmore signed what became known as the 18 “lost treaties” which set aside 8.5 million acres in California for Native Americans, including the Kizh. 

Unfortunately, because much of the land was thought to contain gold, the U.S. Congress chose to not ratify the treaties and instead place an injunction of secrecy on the documents, which disappeared from public knowledge until 1905, when they were discovered in the Senate Archives. 

The United States tried various programs to solve the “Indian problem” including officially terminating 38 tribes in California in the 1950s and 1960s.  It was not until 1994 that the Kizh achieved official California statewide recognition.  Today, the Kizh tribe is still struggling to revive their culture, which was almost completely decimated by 200 years of colonization.  To this day, the Kizh have yet to achieve federal recognition, which would give them benefits in education and health care.

Painting by artist L.Frank

5 comments:

  1. Cool piece, Jesse. May I add that although the Tongva reached across the LA basin, Santa Catalina and the other neighboring islands, into parts of north OC to about Aliso Viejo creek, another tribe, the Juaneño, or Acjachemen, occupied central and south OC down towards San Diego where they neighbored the Luiseno. There are many cultural similarities but they still consider(ed) themselves distinct. Neither has federal recognition yet, we've been working with the Acjachemen to help out. There were different waves of immigration over 10,000+ years, and little is known of the very first people to pass through this area. The Tongva and Acjachmen most likely came to the area from the Great Basin at some point within the past 2-4000 years.

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  2. TRUE KIZH/GABRIELENOAugust 8, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    YOUR BOTH TERRIBLY WRONG ...DONT KNOW YOUR HISTORY ....THERE IS NO HISTORICAL INDIAN TRIBE NAMED TONGVA ...STOP BELIEVING THAT FALSEHOOD .....NO WHERE TIL LATE 1990'S WILL YOU SEE THE NAME TONGVA POP UP ...HOW SAD AND IGNORANT ANYONE WHO BELIEVES TONGVA EVER EXISTED IN RELATION TO THE GABRIELNO PEOPLE .I CHALLENGE ANYONE TO "PROVE" THE NAME TONGVA EXISTED PREVIOUS TO LATE 1990'S ...IM TALKING WAY BACK 1600'S 1700'S DONT GO BY HEAR SAY ...STOP TRYING TO CHANGE HISTORY..TONGVA WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ACHIEVE FEDERAL RECOGNITION ...THEY WILL HIT A ROADBLOCK ...JESSE, ALBERT, TONGVA BELIEVERS .. TAKE A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME ..DO YOUR HOMEWORK .. ...SHOW PROOF OF TONGVA...I KNOW YOU WONT BE ABLE TO PROVE "HISTORICAL" PROOF ...THE GABRIELENO'S WERE KNOWN AS THE KIZH INDIANS AND THE PROOF HAS BEEN EXPOSED ...AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR THE TRUTH ...CREATOR GOD IS ON OUR SIDE AND THAT IS A FACT .....ITS SAD TO SAY BUT I CAN BET THE MAJORITY OF TONGVA BELIEVERS HAVE NO DOCUMENTED PROOF THEY ARE CALIFORNIA INDIAN ..LET ALONE GABRIELENO(KIZH) OR NATIVE AMERICAN FOR THAT MATTER ....YET THEY ARE OUT THERE REPRESENTING THE "TRUE" INDIGENOUS INHABITANTS ...SHAME! SHAME! ..ALBERT G. AND JESSE ARTIST L. FRANK ... AND ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE SPREADING FALSE HISTORY ....NO, THIS PIECE IS NOT COOL ....ITS HUMIIATING ....NOW, START GETTING YOUR FACTS TOGETHER GUYS AND PROVE TONGVA IS WHAT YOU SAY IS A VALID NAME ......YOU WILL BE "LOST" FOREVER, SEARCHING FOREVER .... WHEN YOU FIND DOCUMENTED "HISTORICAL" PROOF OF TONGVA (AGAIN NOT IN THE 1990'S WHEN SOME MORON CAME ALONG TO CAUSE SEPARATION OF OUR PEOPLE) ...1700'S 1800'S ... UNTIL THEN CAN YOU SPREAD IT TO THE WORLD ....WHAT IS A TONGVA? ...SOUNDS NATIVE ....TONGVA LANGUAGE...TONGVA CULTURE ...TONGVA VILLAGE SITES ...I DONT THINK SO ....IN FACT , I KNOW SO .....TONGVA IS THE "CANCER" OF GABRIELENO .... NOT A NAME I WOULD BE PROUD OF ....

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  3. YOUR BOTH TERRIBLY WRONG ...DONT KNOW YOUR HISTORY ....THERE IS NO HISTORICAL INDIAN TRIBE NAMED TONGVA ...STOP BELIEVING THAT FALSEHOOD .....NO WHERE TIL LATE 1990'S WILL YOU SEE THE NAME TONGVA POP UP ...HOW SAD AND IGNORANT ANYONE WHO BELIEVES TONGVA EVER EXISTED IN RELATION TO THE GABRIELNO PEOPLE .I CHALLENGE ANYONE TO "PROVE" THE NAME TONGVA EXISTED PREVIOUS TO LATE 1990'S ...IM TALKING WAY BACK 1600'S 1700'S DONT GO BY HEAR SAY ...STOP TRYING TO CHANGE HISTORY..TONGVA WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ACHIEVE FEDERAL RECOGNITION ...THEY WILL HIT A ROADBLOCK ...JESSE, ALBERT, TONGVA BELIEVERS .. TAKE A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME ..DO YOUR HOMEWORK .. ...SHOW PROOF OF TONGVA...I KNOW YOU WONT BE ABLE TO PROVE "HISTORICAL" PROOF ...THE GABRIELENO'S WERE KNOWN AS THE KIZH INDIANS AND THE PROOF HAS BEEN EXPOSED ...AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR THE TRUTH ...CREATOR GOD IS ON OUR SIDE AND THAT IS A FACT .....ITS SAD TO SAY BUT I CAN BET THE MAJORITY OF TONGVA BELIEVERS HAVE NO DOCUMENTED PROOF THEY ARE CALIFORNIA INDIAN ..LET ALONE GABRIELENO(KIZH) OR NATIVE AMERICAN FOR THAT MATTER ....YET THEY ARE OUT THERE REPRESENTING THE "TRUE" INDIGENOUS INHABITANTS ...SHAME! SHAME! ..ALBERT G. AND JESSE ARTIST L. FRANK ... AND ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE SPREADING FALSE HISTORY ....NO, THIS PIECE IS NOT COOL ....ITS HUMIIATING ....NOW, START GETTING YOUR FACTS TOGETHER GUYS AND PROVE TONGVA IS WHAT YOU SAY IS A VALID NAME ......YOU WILL BE "LOST" FOREVER, SEARCHING FOREVER .... WHEN YOU FIND DOCUMENTED "HISTORICAL" PROOF OF TONGVA (AGAIN NOT IN THE 1990'S WHEN SOME MORON CAME ALONG TO CAUSE SEPARATION OF OUR PEOPLE) ...1700'S 1800'S ... UNTIL THEN CAN YOU SPREAD IT TO THE WORLD ....WHAT IS A TONGVA? ...SOUNDS NATIVE ....TONGVA LANGUAGE...TONGVA CULTURE ...TONGVA VILLAGE SITES ...I DONT THINK SO ....IN FACT , I KNOW SO .....TONGVA IS THE "CANCER" OF GABRIELENO .... NOT A NAME I WOULD BE PROUD OF ....
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    Replies
    1. I would like to understand how "tongva" is the cancer of Gabrieleno, since "Gabrieleno" and the mission system is the cancer of the
      Spanish conquistador/missionaries --whose presence was a true cancer.

      I understand the old ones, that we mistakenly call the "Kizh" lived and loved the land, the waters the islands the life. they didn't call themselves the Kizh. They called themselves the "people" - the people of the land.

      Those whop call the people Tongva are in error, I agree. Can you explain how a missionary name is more accurate?

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  4. Dear Shamanzone,

    This is the best answer I have heard concerning this long drawn out argument. I have read many of them online. Not siding with either but you're either of the Indian people or you're not. Just saying........I, too, would like to know my true ancestry. I would also like to know why a missionary name is more accurate.

    Thanks for your input.

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