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This page highlights the major indigenous peoples tribes of Orange County, the Tongva and the Acjachemen. Indigenous peoples have a strong spiritual, cultural, economic, and environmental relationship to the land. Despite the painful history of abuse and colonization that indigenous peoples have faced, there continues to be strong communities of indigenous peoples here in Orange County, along with all over the US. It is important that we know the history of the lands we reside upon and it is essential that we uplift and support indigenous voices. 

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The Tongva

MEANING: "People of the Earth" 

OTHER NAMES/SUB-TRIBES: Gabrielino, Gabrieleño, and Kizh. The name Tongva represents all of these tribes. 

This names Gabrielino and Gabrieleño, was given to them by the Spanish because of their physical proximity to the San Gabriel Mission.

AREA: The Tongva inhabited the 4000 square miles of Greater Los Angeles Basin. Residing near creeks and rivers, the Tongva’s boundaries stretch from the Los Angeles Basin to Northern Orange County to Santa Catalina and San Clemente.


TIME: How long the tribe have resided in California is unknown, but Anthropologists predict their arrival to be around 500 BCE.

RECOGNITION: in 1994, the Tongva were recognized by California with Joint Resolution No. 96. Despite the state recognition, the Tongva people are still fighting for federal recognition. 


POPULATION: Today the number of Tongva people is around 3000 in Southern California. 


VILLAGES: The villages were inhabited by 50-500 residents. A village called Ahwing-na served as the capital, home to leaders and center of trades.


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The Acjachemen


This name was given to them by the Spanish because of their physical proximity to the San Juan Capistrano Mission.

AREA: The Acjachemen mainly resided in Orange County, San Diego, Oceanside and Riverside counties. Residing in a home called Kiicha, the Acjachemen built doom structured homes with fire centered in the middle.

TIME: It is estimate Acjachemen population has resided in Orange County for roughly 10,000 years.


RECOGNITION: Although recognized statewide, the Acjachemen are not federally recognized. The lack of Federal recognition has been a hindrance in preservation and restoration of the Acjachemen’s cultural history.

POPULATION: Today there is estimated to be 3000 people belonging to the Acjachemen tribe.

VILLAGES: They lived in villages ranging from 35-300 residents. Each clan had their own territory and were politically independent. 



Land Acknowledgements

Land Acknowledgements are spoken in order to recognize the indigenous peoples that are native to the area. Some times that you may hear a formally stated acknowledgment are before large gatherings, such as school or sporting events, as well as public meetings, and even before concerts and other activities. The idea is to honor and extend appreciate towards the peoples whose land we stand upon. 

Sometimes these acknowledgements are done extremely respectfully, but other times, even if there are good intentions, the acknowledgment can seem like an act and can do more harm than good. In order to learn more about what Land Acknowledgements are and the differing opinions surrounding them, check out the podcast linked here. 

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