The Newe Tongva Nation sues for federal recognition

The Gabrielino were Shoshonean People who shared common linguistic features to as “Uto-Aztecan (or Shoshone). The Gabrielino migrated from the regions of Nevada and Utah. After founding the Mission San Gabriel in 1771, these American Indians would be known as Gabrielinos. The Mission San Fernando de Rey de España founded on September 8, 1797. The San Bernardino Asistencia was later established to assist the San Gabriel and San Fernando Missions, the two missions located in the ancestral territories of the Gabrielino People.

It is estimated that 100 permanent villages dotted the landscape from the San Bernardino Mountains to the west Islands, and going north to Monterey, California. The Gabrielino were for a short period considered by the Spanish as a special race of “White Indians: because of their light skin color (Bean and Smith 1978:540). By early 1920’s the Gabrielino were declared extinct. (Feb 10, 1921: Los Angeles Times – Race Vanishes as Junico Dies). It is estimated about 5,000 living Gabrielinos are living today, presently in the area of Southern California.

With the American takeover in the 1846-1848, the United States government agreed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to honor land rights as they existed under the previous (Mexican) regime. The Gabrielino on June 10th, 1851 agreed to a treaty of peace and friendship and entered into at Camp Persifer F. Smith at the Texon pass, in the State of California, between George W. Barbour, one of the commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and the American Indian leaders, captains, chiefs and heads of the Tribes near the area. This treaty was known as Treaty No. 4, alternately Treaty D and titled “Treaty with the Castake, Texon, Etc., 1851.”

With the American takeover in the 1846-1848, the United States government agreed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to honor land rights as they existed under the previous (Mexican) regime. The Gabrielino on June 10th, 1851 agreed to a treaty of peace and friendship and entered into at Camp Persifer F. Smith at the Texon pass, in the State of California, between George W. Barbour, one of the commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and the American Indian leaders, captains, chiefs and heads of the Tribes near the area. This treaty was known as Treaty No. 4, alternately Treaty D and titled “Treaty with the Castake, Texon, Etc., 1851.”

Under this Indian Treaty, the Gabrielino would forfeit the balance of the land. In return for the reserved land, the Indians would, by treaty, “forever quit to the government of the United States… any and all other lands to which they or either of them now have or many ever have had any claim or title whatsoever.” The U.S. Senate never ratified these treaties. In fact, the United States never ratified any treaty with any tribe in California. The Senate wished the 18 treaties away, hiding them under lock and key until they were unsealed in 1905.

Further, in 1871, Congress stripped the President of the United States the ability to negotiate directly with Indian Tribes. The Indian Appropriation Act specified “that no tribe thereafter would be recognized as an independent nation with which the federal government could make a treaty.

The approximately 1.2 million acres promised to the Gabrielino Tribe and other Mission Indians thru treaties included 75,000 acres on the San Sebastian Reserve at the Tejon Pass at the edge of Los Angeles County, a temporary reservation to which a number of Gabrielino families had been relocated. This 75,000-acre reserve was never officially taken into trust, but instead ended up as a private property of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Edward Beale, who incorporated it into his newly named “Tejon Ranch.”

Special Indian Commissioner C.E. Kelsey made an effort to purchase or identify lands near San Gabriel. In his map, San Gabriel lands are identified as “lands recently purchased.” For some reason, this purchase did not result in the establishment of a reservation for the Gabrielino. Nonetheless, Special Indian Commissioner Kelsey’s efforts should be interpreted, to show federal recognition.

During the Spanish period the Gabrielino were enslaved to build the San Gabriel Mission and the San Fernando Mission. During the American period, the children were forced to assimilate into a “civilized society” thru the boarding school system at Sherman Indian Institute and St. Boniface’s Industrial School, in which many Gabrielino Indians were also included.

 

 

The Court of Claims, in California Indians v. U.S. (1941) 98 Ct. Cols, 583, recognized the arguments of the California Attorney General, Earl Warren, that a “promise made to these tribes and bands of Indians and accepted by them, but the treaties were never ratified so the promise was never fulfilled.”

Acting to recognize the equitable 1,553,772 acres of land claims of the Gabrielinos and the additional acres of “all the Indians of California,” the Court awarded 7 cents an acre as compensation for the 8.5 million acres of land which was never set up as reservations under the 18 “lost treaties.” The Court of Claims awarded no interest for the 94-year period between the signature of the 1851-1953 Treaties and payment of the monies in 1944.

 

 

The Indian Claims Commission addressed the Claims of the Gabrielino Tribe in Docket 80, where the Gabrielino group was treated as an Indian tribe, but only its members were named as Plaintiffs.

This legal fiction would appear to a modern lawyer to eviscerate the effectiveness of the land claims settlement, which addressed only the claims of Individual Indians, and not the land claims of the Tribe itself.

This would require California Indians to submit a 6-page application to the Department of Indian Affairs in which majority of  California Indians were listed on the revised roll as “Mission Tribe,” with the intention of those  Indians affiliated with a non-federally recognized tribe, make them disappear.

In 1959, the Court of Claims entered a final order recognizing the aboriginal title of the Gabrielino Tribe and other California tribes to 64 million acres west of the Sierra Nevada Range. The tribe’s title was recognized and $633 was paid to each Gabrielino in 1972. As part of the efforts to adjudicate the two land claim payments in 1944 and 1972, hundreds of Gabrielino tribal members were recognized as “Gabrielino Indians” on each of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ California Indian Rolls of 1928, 1948, and 1968.

 

 

Gabrielino is not requesting review under the acknowledgement process at 25 C.F.R. Part 83 because the Tribe was and continues to be federally recognized. Gabrielino was erroneously omitted from the list of entities eligible to receive services from the BIA brownshirts in error. The Gabrielino were involved in Indian Claims Commission Act proceedings. The federal approval of attorney contracts for Gabrielino, however, in the context of Solicitor White’s comments regarding the recognized status of tribes that could have attorney contracts approved, provide further of Gabrieleno’s recognition. The Gabrielino has been recognized before, for this reason, the Gabrielino shall be federally recognized and placed on the List of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Recognition thru the State of California in 1994 have been insufficient to have a voice. Further, the process of federal recognition thru the Office of Federal Acknowledgement is broken, intrusive, unfair, less than transparent and subject to political influence. Nevertheless, this has brought friction and has divided us now into at least 6 different bands.

During the past couple years due to the lack of federal recognition, other nearby tribes have taken ownership of our sacred sites, sacred objects, human remains, and objects of cultural patrimony. We have been struggling to have a voice in our own lands and we are now demanding the Government to be recognized and have a voice.

Recognition and identity is so critically important to the Gabrielino people. The Public needs to know that the first people from Los Angeles area are still here, we been here, we never disappeared and now it’s the time to be the authors of our own destiny, be recognized, and be allowed to reclaim our identities.

Emilio Reyes descends from the Gabrielino Tongva Tribe. Emilio is the Founder of Stop Tribal Genocide, a movement dedicated in promoting Native American rights. Genealogist and Researcher specializing in Native American family lines. Advocator on the negative effect of tribal disenrollment and blood quantum.

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