Trouble in Tovaangar

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29 mins read
Gabrielino petroglyphs on a boulder along the San Gabriel River

Local News Pasadena’s story reported on January 2nd about Los Angeles County discussing turning over the Henninger Flats campground to the Tongva has taken some interesting left turns.

We now know considerably more about the organization and its leadership that approached the County to acquire the 230-acre mountain parcel.

First, the organization interested in acquiring the land says they don’t plan to build a casino on that property. They claim it’s another group that wants to build a casino, somewhere else. More about casinos in a moment.

And it won’t become a Tongva or Gabrieleño reservation. We got the reservation part wrong. That’s because LA County isn’t planning to turn the property over to “the Tongva” or even a tribe, although Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office has used both terms to describe the organization that contacted the County.

Rather, the party interested in acquiring Henninger Flats is a California 501(c)3 non-profit founded in June 2021 named the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy (TTPC). According to correspondence sent to Local News Pasadena from Wallace T. Cleaves Jr., the non-profit’s president and co-founder, the TTPC is “a Tongva non-profit, not a Tribal government.”

The TTPC is the same organization that in 2022 paid local resident Sharon Alexander $20,000 for a one-acre Altadena property inherited from her family and worth over $2.1 million per TTPC’s 2022 federal tax report. The Altadena acre represents the bulk of the organization’s net assets of $2.5 million, per the non-profit’s Form 990 filing.

Over $2.1 million in real estate for $20,000? Not bad! Source: ProPublica

TTPC is also the conservancy that recently received a $779,000 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife “to remove invasive trees and pay Tongva people to remove the understory taking over our oak grove” on the one-acre parcel, per TTPC Land Return Coordinator Samantha Morales-Johnson.

The grant was awarded, “as a valuable agricultural learning process for Tongva Community Members to revitalize culture, language and traditional land stewardship,” according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s press release.

Having a state agency award $779,000 for Tongva workers to clear trees and shrubs will certainly improve the property’s views of Eaton Canyon, especially if it helps realize one of the non-profit’s stated goals to provide free tribal housing. Per a recent donation solicitation regarding the acquisition, Morales-Johnson wrote, “We need to give Tribal members secure housing so we can come together on Tovaangar again.”

Two of the non-profit’s other goals include performing traditional ceremonies and educating “Tongva people and members of the public about Tongva culture.”

Clearly, the potential acquisition of Henninger Flats would represent a real estate valuation step-up for the non-profit.

And the organization has enjoyed quite of bit of national and local media coverage after securing the one-acre Altadena parcel. Some of the media outlets covering that feel-good story included Bloomberg, PBS Newshour, LAist and the Los Angeles Times. In addition to the land back narrative, Samantha Morales-Johnson was prominently featured in an episode of PBS SoCal’s Lost LA discussing how her ancestors cultivated local plants.

But, wouldn’t ya know, there’s trouble in Tovaangar.

“People are using variations of our tribal name, misleading logos and some group photos shot with my late father, Ernie Salas, to try to prove their heritage as Gabrieleños,” said Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians, Kizh Nation Chairman Andrew Salas.

“That’s fraudulent. They needed to use that name to connect them with a historical tribe of Los Angeles for validity, but they are not lineal descendants from the villages within the LA Basin. That’s the true definition of the aboriginal people of Los Angeles” said Salas.

Salas states that the 400-member Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians, Kizh Nation requires genealogical proof of lineal descendency from the Greater Los Angeles Basin for members to be included on its tribal roll. In addition to the Kizh, the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians also requires that all tribal members provide proof they are descended from local ancestors. Several other indigenous tribes with members in the Los Angeles Basin, including the Gabrieleno-Tongva Band of Mission Indians and the Gabrielino / Tongva Nation do not. The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, according to Chief of Staff Kimia Fatehi, requires the submission of genealogical documents that “trace back to the historic base rolls…in line with (the) FTBMI constitution and laws.”1

“The Gabrieleños are the Los Angeles Basin tribal members recognized by the California legislature since 1994,” said Salas. “Most of those that use the term Tongva today have not proven their lineage. But for decades they’ve been claiming to be family to us.”

“Anthony Morales (former Chief of the Gabrieleno-Tongva) is Kimberly Morales-Johnson’s uncle,” said Salas. Morales-Johnson is the co-founder of TTPC.

“Their family may have indigenous ancestors, but not from here,” said Salas.

For the record, the Gabrieleno / Tongva Nation is yet a third organization, and this is the one attempting to bring Indian casino gaming into Los Angeles County through H.R. 6859. That’s the Kamlager-Dove bill referencing both the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and proposing that up to 300 acres of land be acquired and taken into trust by the Department of the Interior.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s Communications Director, Helen Chavez, confirmed that the Gabrielino / Tongva Nation was not the group that reached out to the County about transferring property in the 5th District. Regarding the 300 acres of land referenced in H.R. 6859, Chavez offered, “I wasn’t aware of that. But they have not approached this office.”

“My understanding, just from some of the dialog with TTPC, is that the nonprofit supports the Gabrielino-Tongva Band of San Gabriel Mission Indians’ efforts for overall federal recognition. That tells me that there is definitely some common ground,” said Chavez.

Anthony Morales and a Gabrieleno-Tongva attorney were quoted 20 years ago by the Los Angeles Times regarding their interest in also developing a Los Angeles-area casino. “We are open to entertain any economic opportunities to help our people,” Morales said.

“The tribe is legally allowed to receive recognition through Congress, which would allow it to have a reservation in the Los Angeles County area and to eventually negotiate … for a casino,” said Gabrieleno-Tongva attorney Jack Schwartz. “My impression is that a casino in Los Angeles County would probably be the most lucrative in the world by virtue of its location.”

Regarding the potential transfer of Henninger Flats, Local News Pasadena received e-mailed messages from both Wallace Cleaves and Kimberly Morales-Johnson.

“As the co-founder and president of the TTPC, I can definitely say that the organization had nothing to do with H.R. 6859 and we were not contacted or consulted about it,” wrote Cleaves. “There simply is no connection.”

Regarding the strong objections made by the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians about the potential transfer of Henninger Flats to the conservancy, Cleaves wrote, “The TTPC is not affiliated with (any) one group in order to avoid these kinds of issues.”

“Our board and staff members have long-standing ties and membership with the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians,” wrote Morales-Johnson. “Supervisor Barger has worked with Chief Anthony Morales for many years as has Hilda Solis.”

Samantha Morales-Johnson concluded a separate response about potentially acquiring the Henninger Flats site with a laugh line, “We’re more likely to build a casino on the moon.”

But when Local News Pasadena offered Kimberly Morales-Johnson the opportunity to respond to a 2015 genealogy report provided by the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians documenting her family’s indigenous ancestral lineage from outside the Los Angeles Basin, the tone dramatically changed.

She responded, in part, by writing, “I am at a conference but feel the need to respond to your asinine question.”

“I assume from your tone…that you are of white European descendancy and feel the need to question my heritage and identity,” wrote Morales-Johnson. “Let me assure you, it is NOT your place, it comes from a position of superiority, place of privilege and white supremacy.”

“You are entering into an age old argument that can never be settled and continues to play into the colonizers narrative and I do not owe you or anyone else a comment or explanation, as the Federal Government, Mission documents and other records let me know exactly who I am,” continued Morales-Johnson. “Which makes me question, who are you as a privileged straight white male to question me?”  

“I will be sure to let the public and academics know how Pasadena continues its completely racist history with ‘reporters’ such as yourself,” wrote Morales-Johnson.

Wallace Cleaves took a more multifaceted approach with his response. Rather than addressing the validity of the source documentation, he assailed the reputation of the genealogist and the motivations of the Kizh Nation.

Cleaves wrote, in part, “Escobar has been widely discredited as a genealogist, as even the most cursory research will show. She regularly cornflakes (sic) two individuals with similar names and dates to obscure actual records and has been caught ding (sic) so. Even cursorily looking at this report the number of suppositions and jumps to judgement, and even admissions that dates don’t match should be telling to someone versed in genealogical research. She is being sued by multiple individuals for libel and has been reported to have declared bankruptcy due to these suits.”

“It is unfortunate to have to say this of relations, but even the most basic research will also bring up significant issues with the Kizh and how they have operated. I do thank you for documenting that that organization has sent you this libelous material as it confirms and helps build a case against their practices,” Cleaves writes.

Cleaves goes on, “The individuals you have now insulted, and it is painfully insulting the way you phrased this, have federal and state documentation that has legal force. I urge you and your paper to seek legal counsel before you go any further than you already have, and to actually do your research.”

“Likewise, to forestall other disparagements, I’ll inform you that my family has Federal Degree of Indian Blood certification and appears on the 1920 California Indian rolls, the two critical forms of documentation for California Indians,” claims Cleaves. “Beyond that, my 3 times great grandmother is one of the most documented Tongva individuals.”

“Not all members of our community are as fortunate, which is a condemnation of colonialism, not of them. I’m fortunate enough to have documentation and to be resourced and able to pursue cases of slander,” Cleaves writes.

Helen Chavez addressed the need for a transparent process regarding any transfer of land by saying, “Part of this process and of the planning is going to be a validation of sorts.”

“I’m going to call it that for now because I don’t have a better word, but a process where there is transparency to make sure that in this transference of land, that all those steps are carefully safeguarded and there isn’t wrongful transferring of ownership to an entity,” said Chavez.

She continued, “And as more information comes to light there will be more facts behind that process. The Supervisor wants to keep that part very transparent. I think there’s going to be a big learning experience in terms of taking what is a good intention and really diving into the details. There are a lot of players here. It can be confusing.”

For Indigenous Tribes, Ancestry Matters

“Several of these groups have made extensive efforts to defraud both the state and federal government on many levels,” says Kara Grant, an attorney specializing in Native American law who is advising the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians.

“The problem is nobody locally other than the Gabrieleños (and the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians) require ancestral due diligence to ensure they are who they claim they are,” she said.

Grant is referring to the genealogy research requirement used by federally acknowledged indigenous tribes like the Navajo and California tribes like the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation in San Juan Capistrano to verify tribal ancestry.

“This lack of due diligence goes so far as to impact the due process of my client’s property rights and interests,” said Grant, “as well as their identity, character, culture and history. The damage is extensive and severe.”

Tribal genealogical verification is a formal process performed by professional researchers with access to primary source documentation. And it’s been a must for federal acknowledgement.

For example, the San Juan Capistrano-based tribe implemented genealogical lineage verification after receiving a negative Federal Recognition Proposed Finding (PF) in 2007 due to having non-Indian and non-Acjachemen members on the tribal roll.

“That is not just a requirement of the tribe but a requirement set by the Office of Federal Acknowledgment,” said tribal Chairperson Heidi Lucero. “It is one of the requirements of 25 CFR Part 83 (e) Procedures for Federal Acknowledgment, which is the membership criteria for federal recognition.”

“Our Tribal Constitution and subsequent resolutions and ordinances require that every member be a documented lineal descendant using genealogy and genealogical proof standards,” said Lucero. “In 2008, the tribe passed an ordinance to remove all non-lineal descendants from the tribal roll and gave them one year to try and find a genealogical connection.”

Lucero continued, “After that one year, those pending affiliates were permanently removed from the roll. We were told by the Office of Federal Acknowledgment that CDIB’s (Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood) were not evidence of lineal descent and that we needed genealogical proof that every individual on the roll connected to a historic ancestor from Mission San Juan Capistrano.”

Donna Smith Yocum, Chairperson of the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians, wrote, “The San Fernando Band of Mission Indians requires certified birth certificates, baptismal records, genealogy and records to show their lineal descent from one or more of our main progenitors. This is also required through our constitution.”

“We do not accept a person who has been adopted by a tribal member if they are not from our lineage or who does not have ancestry to the San Fernando Mission,” she continued. “We have removed people from our enrollment in the past when we found out that their birth certificate had been altered. Altering documents is nothing new, and it takes a good eye to pay attention to every single line on a birth certificate.”

In other words, a DNA test, a book written by a historian and family photos may be starting points but are far from sufficient proof that an individual’s ancestors actually originated from one particular tribe. This is true for all tribes meeting the federal acknowledgement standard set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

At issue is not only whether individuals have any California indigenous ancestry, it also means that without conclusive documentation of ancestry specifically from the greater Los Angeles Basin indigenous people can’t form or join a federally acknowledged Native American tribe here. And even for California tribes currently following all the BIA rules regarding their membership’s local ancestry, the acknowledgement review process takes years, and frequently decades.

“I’m concerned that LA County is considering transferring public land to the descendants of Spanish settlers who subjugated authentic local Indians.”

James Henninger Aguirre

And there’s another ancestry aspect of the potential transfer of Henninger Flats to TTPC that troubles local resident James Henninger Aguirre, an author and the great, great, great-grandson of William Kimber Henninger and Teresa Henninger.

“I’m concerned,” said Aguirre, “that LA County is considering transferring public land to the descendants of Spanish settlers who subjugated authentic local Indians. These are imposters who cannot trace their ancestral lineage to this area.”

“Some of these people claim I’m related to them through Teresa Henninger (Aguirre’s great, great, great-grandmother),” said Aguirre. “When they do, they’re admitting they are not Gabrieleño Indians.”

“If TTPC gets their hands on Henninger Flats, the first thing they’ll do is change the name,” said Aguirre, “because the last thing non-local Indians want to be reminded of is that Teresa was born in Baja California. She and her descendants, including me, are not what people are now calling Tongvas.”

“It’s hard to believe,” says Aguirre. “It sounds like a mystery novel. It sounds like people made this up. But it’s real, and it’s nothing new.”

The Tongva: An Alternative History Since the 1990s?

In researching this article, several names, organizations, events and locations continued to feature prominently in the recent history of what is known as the Tongva. And by recent, we mean since the 1990s.

Various academics, tribal leaders of the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians, the Gabrieleno-Tongva Band of Mission Indians, the co-founders of TTPC and others traded alternative histories and accusations of defamatory statements in the letters section of the Claremont Courier during 2021. One of the points at issue was whether “the Tongva” was an actual tribe or a timely, potentially useful modern academic creation.

We suggest you read the exchange to get a sense for yourself what happens when educated individuals can’t cordially agree about what constitutes a tribe, history or conclusive documentation.

The bottom line is the BIA has determined what it will accept for the purposes of federal tribal acknowledgement and that’s not open to interpretation, as many tribes have discovered.

Now it’s Local News Pasadena’s turn to be on the receiving end of some incredible ad hominem attacks. There are assumptions about our motivations in researching this story and flat-out embarrassing assertions charging us with, among other things, Pasadena-flavored racism, white supremacy and general idiocy (well, they probably got us on that last point).

We decided to post, verbatim, the screeds we received when we offered TTPC leaders the opportunity to comment about lineal ancestor documentation, and we also included comments about The Reservation Next Door that arrived prior to publishing this article. You may read them below, in their entirety.

Warning: Screeds and Harsh Language

All of these individuals knew they were communicating with a Local News Pasadena correspondent.


From Kimberly Morales-Johnson

Mr. Hopkins,

I am at a conference but feel the need to respond to your asinine question. 

I would like to answer your question with a question.  Have you ever had anyone question your ethnic heritage byway of genealogical or Degree of Blood Quantum? (Maybe you are familiar with a degree of blood quantum or blood degree if you have “pure bred dog”). Please let that sink in.  Native Americans are the only race ever required to prove their existence.   I assume from your tone and lack of response to my previous email that you are of white European descendancy and feel the need to question my heritage and identity.  Let me assure you, it is NOT your place, it comes from a position of superiority,  place of privilege and white supremacy.  

As a 3rd year PhD student in Native American Studies, I would like to provide you with some California Indian History.  

Unlike the “certified genealogist” many academic scholars have researched this and understand a flawed system.  When one group is colonizing or committing genocide, of course the system in place (birth certificates etc.) was flawed and added to erasure – they did this on purpose.  If the colonizers could prove that there were no Indian people, then the land they wanted would be declared “terra nullius” ; it belonged to no one, and was theirs for the taking.  Therefore, of course they did not classify Natives as Natives – we were not considered human (we were savages), and that is when the thievery of our land began. In California, there was the whole Mexican time period which further complicates the issue.  (Side note, this makes me wonder how one becomes a “certified genealogist” and is therefore an expert in questioning documents issued by the Federal Government with no recourse to their actions) 

I would assume you pay taxes and accept bills issued by the IRS, in that same vein, as a reporter are you QUESTIONING the documents issued by the Federal Government as proof of Degree of Indian Blood?  

My questions are:

– Are you going to have Loraine Escobar scrutinize Gabrielino Tongva persons documentation or just the people that Andy Salas feels threatened by? 

-Do you realize that the genealogist hired (Escobar) has multiple class action lawsuits filed against her and is in the process of bankruptcy? 

– Are you willing to accept a State issued document over a Federally issued Degree of Indian Blood as proof of my bloodline? 

-Lastly, just to clarify Ms. Escobar incorrectly identified family members, but then again you were willing to accept her report as truth, but not an Certified Degree of Indian Blood.  (The same Degree of Indian Blood that has allowed me access to the check given to all California Indians in 1970 during the Indian Land Claims Case (see attached), Indian Health Services and scholarship funding) 

From my one of my recent readings by Academic Patrick Wolfe: ” How is it that it was “one drop rule” of black blood meant slavery for people with mixed blood, yet for Native Americans everyone is trying to “prove how native” they are.  Could it be that the dominant society benefited from slave ownership of black folks or African Americans. At the same time was trying to eliminate the entire Native American race to get their land? Wolfe also goes on to quote Harvey Rosenthal “The American right to buy always superseded the Indian right not to sell.”  The rights of the settler colonizers ALWAYS set forth the rules that benefitted themselves. “

Please see the attachment, I hope you find it useful. If you would like any further readings, please let me know.  You are entering into an age old argument that can never be settled and continues to play into the colonizers narrative and I do not owe you or anyone else a comment or explanation, as the Federal Government, Mission documents and other records let me know exactly who I am.  Which makes me question, who are you as a privileged straight white male to question me?  

I will be sure to let the public and academics know how Pasadena continues its completely racist history with “reporters” such as yourself. 

Have a nice day, 


From Wallace Cleaves, Jr.

Phil and Sheryl,

Escobar has been widely discredited as a genealogist, as even the most cursory research will show. She regularly cornflakes two individuals with similar names and dates to obscure actual records and has been caught ding so. Even cursorily looking at this report the number of suppositions and jumps to judgement, and even admissions that dates don’t match should be telling to someone versed in genealogical research. She is being sued by multiple individuals for libel and has been reported to have declared bankruptcy due to these suits. It is unfortunate to have to say this of relations, but even the most basic research will also bring up significant issues with the Kizh and how they have operated. I do thank you for  documenting that that organization has sent you this libelous material as it confirms and helps build a case against their practices.

The individuals you have now insulted, and it is painfully insulting the way you phrased this, have federal and state documentation that has legal force. I urge you and your paper to seek legal counsel before you go any further than you already have, and to actually do your research.

Likewise, to forestall other disparagements, I’ll inform you that my family has Federal Degree of Indian Blood certification and appears on the 1920 California Indian rolls, the two critical forms of documentation for California Indians. Beyond that, my 3 times great grandmother is one of the most documented Tongva individuals. Not all memers of our community are as fortunate, which is a condemnation of colonialism, not of them. I’m fortunate enough to have documentation and to be resourced and able to pursue cases of slander.

It seems that rather than reasonably respond to our requests to correct misinformation you are now attacking our identity. 

I hope to be contacted the paper’s owner, Sheryl Turner, and I included her in my previous message because of the red flags I was seeing. I’ll be bringing this to the President’s Native American Advisory Council,  of which I’m  a member, to members of the legislature who I’ve worked with (and as former membership and certification chair for the tribe I’ve testified for on Native identity issues), and sharing this treatment with Native American Academics at the national policy summit I’m hosting in March. 

The retaliatory nature of this action is quite clear and damaging and is thankfully documented here.

Wallace Cleaves

From Samantha Morales-Johnson

Mr. Hopkins,

My name is Samantha, and I am a Tongva ethnobotanist and biologist. Your article, assumptions, and questions are insulting. As a culture and community, we have been well documented by historians for centuries. Kimberly’s well cited email has more than enough detail to get you started on learning more.

If you had done any research on the environmental end, you would have also known that history of the land in Caton Canyon and Henninger flats is also well documented. For this mountainous nature reserve to become a casino it would take decades of work, hundreds of millions of dollars, and the devastation of hundreds of well-established acres we as a tribe hold valuable in order to host a casino up in Henninger flats. I don’t need to send you any articles about this, because if you visit Eaton Canyon (or even better, Henninger) it would be as plain as day.

Please stop writing articles that entertain ideas like this. We’re more likely to build a casino on the moon.


Samantha M. Johnson (she/her)
Land Return Coordinator
Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Land Conservancy


From Shannon Speed (e-mailed from an official UCLA account)

Dear Mr. Hopkins, 

I have read your article, “The Reservation Next Door” in the Local News Pasadena. I want to let you know that I find it dangerously misinformed and unnecessarily antagonistic to Native peoples.  

Your article implies that the Gabrielino Tongva Band of Mission Indians (GTBMI – one of six Tongva bands/tribes) is pursuing the Hennington Flats land in order to gain federal recognition and pursue a casino on the property. CTBMI is in active discussion with Supervisor Barger’s office and the LA County Fire Department regarding the possibility of transfer of responsibility for these lands to the GTBMI. Let me be clear (because your article is not) that such a transfer would not imply federal recognition, nor open the possibility of a casino. To substantiate your scare-mongering assertion, you raise H.R. 6859, a bill introduced in mid-December by Los Angeles-area congressperson Sydney Kamlager-Dove “to extend the Federal recognition to the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, and for other purposes”. This is irrelevant to the transfer you are referring to, as the bill involves an entirely different band of the Tongva and has nothing whatsoever to do with the GTBMI.  

I find your attempt to imply that the Tongva are money-mongering for a casino on this site at the expense of non-Native peoples to be transparently hostile and aggressive to Native peoples. For what it is worth, the Tongva peoples were subjected to state-sponsored genocide in the not very distant California past (an estimated 100,000 of 150,000 Native peoples died in the first two years of the Gold Rush – 2/3rds of the population). If you doubt this assertion, please refer to the award winning An American Genocide (Yale University Press 2017) by my UCLA colleague, historian Benjamin Madley, which was cited by the governor of the state in his apology to Native peoples, in which he said, “California must reckon with our dark history. California Native American peoples suffered violence, discrimination and exploitation sanctioned by state government throughout its history. We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land that we now call California since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.” 

Apparently, you feel it is your place to stick a finger in those deep wounds. On top of writing a misinformed and misleading article that is obviously intended to foment ill feeling toward LA’s Native peoples, you added insult to injury by responding to Kimberly Morales Johnson, the Secretary of the GTBMI, and her legitimate concerns by accusing her of not being a real Indian. Seriously? You are so far out of your depth here I am not sure where to start. Ms. Morales Johnson is a well-recognized member of her community and part of the official government of her tribe. She holds a CDIB from the federal government, the primary document establishing Indian identity in this country. For your further information, Andy Salas and the Kitz have dedicated decades to actively trying to discredit everyone but themselves as the First Peoples of Los Angeles. The history here is deep and significant, and you have fallen into the trap that uninformed people trying to sound authoritative often fall into – taking such accusations, and the authority of their ostensible “experts” – at face value.  

I would add the Ms. Morales responsibly stewards, along with an Advisory Board, the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy. Please note that this has not implied federal recognition and the GTBMI has not used this land to pursue a casino. There is absolutely no evidence that they would do so if they were to eventually steward the land at Henninger Flats. Quite simply, you made this up. Further, this false implication that you invented is certain to generate hostility to the GTBMI from the general population. In other words, you are making up a lie to hurt the Tongva. Not a good look for you or your news source.  

Lastly, I would like to simply highlight that if the GTBMI were to have the lands at Henninger Flats returned, even in combination with the small property in the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy, it would be absolutely miniscule compared to what they were promised in an 1851 treaty with the US government, signed and broken as so many were, which pledged 1.55 million acres (over half of LA County). Even this was small considering that their ancestral territory was closer to 2.56 million acres.

The Tongva have been through enough. Please cease and desist from generating on-going harm against them through uninformed and irresponsible reporting.  

Dr. Shannon Speed (Chickasaw) 
Paula Gunn Allen Chair and Professor, American Indian Studies /Gender Studies/Anthropology 
Director, American Indian Studies Center 
Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Native American and Indigenous Affairs  

Gabrielino/Tongva okla’akoot yaakni’ mako apiisahánchi bíyyi’kanattooka hachimanolili.

The AISC at UCLA acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the honuukvetam (ancestors), ‘ahiihirom (elders), and ‘eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.

From Heather Valdez Freedman

Dear Mr. Hopkins,

I have read your article the “Reservation Next Door” and I am aware of your email exchange with Kimberly Johnson (Morales) which bizarrely and inaccurately questions her identity.

You quite literally added insult to injury in your inappropriate email. While working as a researcher at UCLA, I spent several years focused on National Archives research for the Gabrieleno/Tongva. I came to know the Tongva community, the devastating history in California and the very divisive federal recognition process. Gabrieleno/Tongva community members share a history of outwardly racist policies such as the selling of Native peoples into servitude and legally sanctioned hunting of Native people in the state. The tribal community was forced to hide to survive and ensure safety. The fact that the community persists toady is a testament to resilience. To have this resilience met with a reporter questioning identity and further dividing an already vulnerable community ? I am stunned.

It’s clear that you are not aware of the deep and complicated waters you are treading in both your article and your email. You have clearly been duped into taking sides in a decades long struggle in which there is no place for uniformed outsiders to intervene

Federal recognition in California specifically is fraught with historical trauma and a deeply troubling history. Your unwarranted accusations are extremely detrimental and regressive to efforts to move the conversation toward education, healing and a decolonized future.

While I can assure you of Kimberly’s tribal identity, deep community roots and multiple generations of Morales activism, it is such a ridiculous task to right a statement that never should have been made that I refuse to do so.

I urge you to apologize to Kimberly for your offensive email. I highly encourage you to engage in further research to gain an entry level understanding of California history and federal recognition. A meaningful effort in that direction would undoubtedly lead to a retraction of your highly problematic article.

Heather Valdez Freedman

From Sedonna Goeman-Shulsky 

Hello Mr. Hopkins, 

I recently read your article “The Reservation Next Door” and found it riddled with anti-Indigenous fear-mongering. I am writing to provide comments that I urge you and your editors to consider, in the hopes that you might reconsider publishing harmful, anti-Native content in the future and perhaps issue a retraction or edit of what you’ve written and made public. You are contributing to misinformation and anti-Native prejudice by keeping that article up in its current form. This is a learning opportunity for you and your readers, and I sincerely hope you will take it as such. 

For context about who I am and why I care, I grew up in Los Angeles since I was 13, learning from and working with Tongva and Tataviam folks along the way. I am of Haudenosaunee descent as my grandfather was an enrolled member of the Tonawanda Band of Seneca, and I was raised knowing who my family is, was, and what we believe as Haudenosaunee people about our obligations to the earth and other people. Particularly I grew up knowing that if I’m going to be on somebody else’s land, I ought to reach out and know who they are and how I can be a good guest. I learned about genocide when I was four years old, and have deeply felt the impacts of boarding schools and extermination policies throughout my family’s history. My academic background is in Indigenous Archaeology, human repatriation, and environmental anthropology, and I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA working on dissertation research about the importance of land access for the well-being of Indigenous people, culture, and the environment, particularly through mechanisms of Land Back as we see happening in the Henninger Flats case. In brief, my experiences and academic teachings have led me to speak up when I see grossly harmful and racist, anti-Indigenous, anti-sovereignty reporting. 

I get the sense you don’t have a strong background in Indigenous studies, so I encourage you to read up on Federal Indian law, particularly, around the implications of federal recognition, how a Tribe/Nation gets federal recognition, and the difference between a reservation and a casino, and Tribal vs. non-profit trust land. The title of your article lends to a misconception about the form of Land Back that is being enacted by the transfer of title of Gabrielino Tongva land back to Gabrielino Tongva people. Titling your article “the Reservation Next Door” implies that Henninger Flats is to become a reservation simply because Native people are going to utilize that space–this is false, and it is more accurate to say that Indigenous people of this land will be gaining back some access to land so that they have a place to gather together for cultural events, to teach their youth about land stewardship, etc. My understanding is not that Tongva folks will develop this land to live on (though, why does it matter if they do? It is their land and they deserve a place to live with their families and relatives). Instead, as evidenced by what folks have been doing with returned land already, it would be a place of teaching and learning, a place to be with each other and steward the land more appropriately and conscientiously than settlers have done in their time of control. 

See, I happen to know via over a decade of direct interaction and good listening that casinos are not on the forefront of most Tongva peoples’ minds when it comes to getting land back. I have been talking with people from various Gabrielino groups/communities–including Gabrielino Shoshone, Gabrielino-Tongva, Gabrielino/Tongva, San Gabriel (Tongva) Band of Mission Indians, Tiat Society, Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy, Kuruvungna Springs Foundation, etc–about why they want access to land and what they mean when they ask for access. You didn’t even bother to specify which Tongva people would be transferred the land, maybe. Not one time in the past decade I have been having these conversations informally (or even when asking formally for a research process in the past three years) has a casino been brought up as a primary interest. I’m not sure why you took things in that direction when you sat down to write this piece other than the LA Times article about a totally different Tribal group than the people interested in Henninger Flats. The people I’ve spoken with about this particular case have reiterated time and again that they hope to restore native plants, make the places they get back into habitable landscapes for native animals, and generally make the places better for people to experience and learn from. That is way more than any settler has done thus far. Look no further than the Kuruvungna Springs: if it was up to the Gabrielino stewards of that space, it would be open more frequently, but LAUSD owns the land and doesn’t allow that (that’s not even discussing the multiple times LAUSD has tried to develop the Springs altogether). 

I do want to be clear, though: even if Tongva people are to develop that land, it is their right to do so. The majority of Los Angeles and Pasadena is inaccessible to Tongva people–when they go out in public to gather medicines and food, they are harassed, when they go out even to just document family histories, they are harassed, they must travel great distances because they cannot afford to live in their traditional homelands just to keep carrying out their traditions. I’ve seen it happen every time I’m out doing something with them. It is no wonder that Tongva people are eager to have a place to carry out ceremonies and pass on cultural teachings to their youth: they are trying to preserve their culture. I don’t think anybody ought to compare their inability to go on a particular hike to the importance of cultural continuity for people who have experienced and still experience the effects of genocide. And, do you know what would fund the caretaking of land in important landscapes? A means to make money so people can be hired to do the work of land stewardship, so they can still eat and live in the capitalist society in which we are all immersed. Casinos happen to be the primary way the federal government allows Native people to make money in an organized fashion. Therefore, even if we were talking about the Gabrielino/Tongva run by Sandonne Goad, which we are not, 

On a sensitive and related note, my friend let me know that you questioned her identity and heritage as an Indigenous woman by citing the hired genealogist Lorraine Escobar. That work has been consistently shoddy, and conveniently comes about any time a Tongva person does something positive for their community. If she and her employers put in half the time that Tongva folks do to make sure ancestors and land are cared for, instead of targeting and harassing Tongva folks, Los Angeles would be a much better, more Indigenous-friendly place. The politics here are intense, decades-long, deeply interpersonal, and complex, and primarily none of our business as non-Gabrielino people. Kimberly Morales and her family do such important work to make sure Los Angeles, or Tovaangar, stays a place that is habitable for all plant, animal, and earth relatives. She has a CDIB. Many of the people Escobar and her employers target do. Are you saying that the federal government doesn’t keep a good record of who is Native? If that is true, then how does it work for every other Native Nation except Gabrielinos and people whose ancestors were forced into the mission system? If you can’t answer that, you have a lot of basic research to conduct before throwing around accusations. 

I invite you to take on some self-reflection. Why is it that your mind directly assumes that Native people will destroy the land via development? What evidence do you have that this particular group will do so? Why is it a bad thing to you if they do get to develop the land for their community’s economic well-being–which often directly results in cultural and physical well-being? Who are you to question who they are or tell them their plans for that land are “bad” or destructive? How long have you and your ancestors been here in comparison to theirs? What even is your relationship with the land in question or any of the land in Gabrielino territory? Why do Tongva people NOT deserve a reservation, i.e. why are you so against Native sovereignty? Please be honest with yourself and others. 

I find it disheartening that you can look at hundreds of years of colonization and genocide, and then only think about the impact on your ability to hike if Tongva people were to get sovereignty over a small portion of their traditional homelands. I have so much more to say about this, but I fear it will just be a miniature version of my in-progress dissertation, so I will just stop here. 

I look forward to reading your reply and hope that you will take what I have written seriously and to heart. 

Sedonna Goeman-Shulsky 
Ph.D. Candidate, UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability 

Local News Pasadena contacted the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs and Congressperson Sydney Kamlager-Dove‘s Los Angeles field office for information related to this article. None was received from those sources.

  1. The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians reports that hired staff working in the tribe’s Office of Tribal Citizenship performs genealogical tracing. When asked about professional certifications or other qualifications of the staff to perform genealogical research and which tribal laws guided the review of documentation, the tribe declined to respond. ↩︎

Photo: (top) Gabrieleño pictographs at the San Gabriel River. Courtesy: Los Angeles Public Library

The short URL of this article is:

Phil Hopkins

Phil is the Associate Publisher of Local News Pasadena. He is a 35-year resident of the city and his favorite local delicacy is the Combo Grinder at Connal's.
Email: [email protected]


  1. Great article! This article is way over due for the Kizh Nation. Our family was registered in 1932 as members of Gabrieleño Tribe, but we couldn’t prove or find historical documents to prove our Tribal connection. It was disappointing, but we accepted the outcome. We’re still searching for our gggrandmother’s Tribal connections through historical research and maybe we might never know. However, our family connections to San Gabriel remains strong and we’ll continue to support the Kizh Nation, the family connections run deep. To all of our relations….

    • I Remember when i was young my Grandfather Ernest Salas he went to the Sherman Indian school he would tell not to say i was Indian I asked y and he said they will throw rocks at you I didn’t i had three older brothers that were Boxers golden glove Boxers and a younger brother and good cousins But my grandfather Ernest Salas when he was sent to sherman Indian school they changed his name and cut his hair he was a great man my grandmother jenny Acuna was full blood like my grandfather Ernest so i have blood from both Sides My Andy Salas knows our tribe and the real history so we will watch it unfold and the more blood the less Hair on the body

  2. As a point of clarity, Cleaves is mistaken about a few things. Let me clarify, I am being sued by a single person, a pretendian, because I wrote a report exposing him as such and submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs so that the government can correct its record to prevent future fraud. People who believe that pretendian’s nonsense need a checkup with a psychiatrist. As for Cleaves, he would not agree to let me look at his lineage–generally, that is a tale-tale sign that the evidence is not there or says a story different than the claim. All any reasonable person has to do is to look at the evidence in my work and not ignore the obvious parts. Then again, we now know there a population of people who believe in anything that agrees with their unfounded ideas, don’t we?

    • Why would a reasonable person present information on the Valenzuela lines when the Morales family are lineal descendants of Cristobala Romero and Maria P. Lopez? You all know what that means. So how can you imply the family is not Gabrieleno?

      • There’s significant evidence suggesting that David Morales wasn’t related to Maria P. Lopez. Though buried near her and the family, no documentation [is there?] besides a single baptism record, which just shows he was baptized and no family relation.

        It’s worth noting that David’s father, Francisco Morales, came from Sonora and lived with the Lopez family while working in the area. He brought children with him but later fled back to Mexico, leaving them behind with the Lopez Mendibles family. This family has a history of taking in abandoned families, which likely explains how Maria P. Lopez became known as “Nana” to some, including the Jeffedos.

        Therefore, without concrete evidence, assuming a kinship between David and Maria is unfounded. Additionally, it’s Morales, not Lorraine, who should be considered responsible for any misleading information regarding his lineage, particularly through the Valenzuelas.

  3. Dear Mr. Hopkins,

    Thank you for this outstanding, accurate article about Henniger Flats. It’s so refreshing to read the truth about the Authentic Ancestral Tribe of the Greater LA Basin: The Gabrieleno Kizh Nation. The PRETENDIANS or groups who don’t have the authentic knowledge continue to “skirt’ around direct lineal knowledge, because they don’t possess it.
    The Gabrieleno Kizh Tribe have consistently stood for protecting Ancestral Sites in honor of their ancestors and for our future generations.
    This outstanding article restored my faith in accurate reporting, Thank you Sir..

  4. People ask me “How do people get away with saying they’re Native American, when they’re not?” The simple answer is nobody would question a person about their own racial identity, assuming they know what their own race is. Yet, as the DNA age has shown, the truth can be different from what one has been told their entire lives. How many people do you know that for a myriad of reasons, have the incorrect surname, which can change ancestry data records?. Why question Native American descent? Unlike other ethnicities, claiming to be Native American can come with monetary, land grant, special permissions, and medicinal benefits to name a few. As in this case, people are asking for a land grant solely in the name of being Native American. Why wouldn’t you have to prove you’re Native American? Can you buy a property with a home without proving who you are, and with the necessary documentation to do so? Now, if someone is in fact Native American, and asked for proof on why you should be granted this land, why take a defense stance and sidestep the request, citing racism and other claims of suing for money (which is European based capitalism)? If you are indeed Native American, PROUDLY prove your lineage with today’s updated methods. By the way, a CDIB was given out like candy in the past by the BIA to be done with those individuals, and didn’t state accurate blood percentages. In closing, If you are indeed Native American, transparency is simple. If you’re not and claim to be for the sake of capitalism, shame on you, and might I suggest psychiatric therapy. A’ho!

  5. Thank you for the well-reported piece. Sadly, the response of Morales-Johnson tells the reader all they need to know about her claims. Your reporter did nothing but their due diligence as a member of the press and gave her a chance to address and respond to the statement against her, and instead of giving a rebuttal she simply attacks someone doing their job. Which means she has no legitimate response, as there was nothing unreasonable about your request. Cleaves may have been more measured in his response, but simply gives evidence that has been disproven and isn’t accepted as legitimate evidence. They have no evidence because there is none. It’s unfortunate to see our indigenous populations continued subjugation, now by people who want to usurp their position. Thank you for sharing this important information for our community. It’s important that our institutions do their due diligence and make sure they are honoring and respecting the correct populations, and not simply jumping to make new wrongs in their desire to correct past wrongs. It’s been disheartening to see our governments and even Hollywood recognizing these frauds. I hope they are not rewarded for their continued misrepresentation.

    • Defamation of character is a serious course to take and Cleaves has done that to me in this quote. This is a legitimate complaint I can file in court. Further, I never researched his claim and made no claims about it. No one contacted me to refute any of my work of claims that anyone made. Your sense of due process needs some work.

      • Uh, I was talking about the way the author was treated and attacked. Not you. Apologies if it seemed I was. But that’s not what I meant. I didn’t address that because you yourself had and I don’t know your situation, so didn’t want to delve into it.

  6. I commend you, Mr. Phil Hopkins, on today’s article Trouble in Tovaanga !!
    Great article! Finally … exposing a 30 plus year old lie
    Against our past elders and current tribal members
    Gabrieleno Kizh tribe
    I’m sure the proof was presented to you in order for you to write up such a informative “ true facts” article
    and not going by “ face value” , which is of no value
    Thank you kindly for your time and excellent reporting.
    We appreciate the help in getting the truth out
    Best always to you sir!!

  7. In today’s era, anyone can assert their affiliation with the Tongva/Gabrielino without any established criteria preventing them from doing so. This leads to numerous unfounded claims, as observed in this article and among individuals associated with renowned institutions like The Autry and Getty museums. One would expect these institutions to conduct thorough research to verify the authenticity of such claims.

    Many of these claims come from individuals involved in 501c3 organizations, often motivated by familial interests rather than a genuine connection to a tribe or community. This situation is disheartening for the actual Gabrieleno people who hold a true understanding of their heritage, as these individuals misrepresent the larger community.

    If I were in a position within the County, I would reconsider giving Henninger Flats to any of these groups. There is a foreseeable risk of the County facing legal challenges in the future due to the prevalence of misleading claims. It’s unfortunate, but the current reality is characterized by a lack of transparency and honesty.

  8. The perpetrators have also gotten various cities in the greater Los Angeles area to believe the farce
    of “tongva” to the point where they have named monuments and a park with the false name. The name of Tongva was
    prominently promoted by one Cindi Alvitre, who has been on the teaching staff of California State University at Long
    Beach. In an interview with her by the staff of DIG “CSULB’s Monthly Student Magazine” posted on the internet on
    April 9, 2011, Ms. Alvitre stated “The name given to the collective group of Tribes that inhabited what is know CSULB
    was ‘Gabrielino,’ given to the group by Spanish settlers. . .” and she went on to state: “The name Tongva is what
    we’ve chosen to use in the present which means ‘people of the earth’… There was no one tribe called ‘Tongva’ ”
    This is an example initiated by a college instructor. The beginning of the “BIG LIE..” If this is the name chosen for the present, what were they called prior to that, especially since there never was a tribe called tongva. For nearly thirty years of a unified effort to commit genocide on the Ancestral people, the truth finally comes to light. Fraudulent representation! It is amazing how the world of academia recognizes a misrepresented without fact-checking their validity. Putting a “chosen” name, without any historical foundation, into the text books as opposed to the historical people, the Kizh. Thank You sir for raising the eyebrows of those who believed the falsehoods for the last thirty years. No More taking them for granted. No More of ” my grandmother said we have Indian blood” as a criteria of being Native American. Word of mouth, BIA CDIB’s, blood quantum s, are irrelevant. A Certified Genealogical Reseach is the only accepted proof of Indigenous Heritage. The criteria is much more intense to prove an Ancestral Tribe. That is why, when questioned, the tongvas become so defensive and evasive. THEY CAN NOT PROVE WHO THEY CLAIM TO BE!

  9. I am responding to the 2nd article on Henninger Flats dated 1/22/2024. Now as I understand it a 501(c)non-profit by the name Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy(TTPC) and president and co-founder Walter T. Cleaves Jr., states TTPC is “a Tongva non-profit, not a tribal government Now see if I understand this as stated in the news article.TTPC received$799,000 dollar grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife “to remove invasive trees and pay TONGVA people to remove the understand on 1 acre parcel, let’s see if I’m correct, an acre is roughly the size of a football FIELD. The TTPC Land Coordinator Samantha Morales- Johnson so stated. Is she related to Chief Anthony Morales of the Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel tribe? I’m a little confused when Samantha states(in the article) “We need to give tribal members secure housing so we can come together on Tovaangar again “What is Tovaangar”? I thought the TTPC is a non-profit. Since when does a non-profit have tribal members and need secure housing??? You would think that a non-profit members would already have their OWN dwelling ALREADY!!! Now reading more on this article,it seems to me she is using the race card by calling the reporter”White European descendancy and then goes on with “Which makes me question who are you as a privileged straight white male to question me” Sounds to me she needs to do a DNA test to see if SHE has any white supremacy. Golden rule for any reporter is to be unbiased and get to the truthful facts for any and all investigative report. Just ask any reporter Samantha but you would know that already if u had EXPIRENCE as a news reporter. Now we come to Wallace Cleaves Jr.Tell me did your father Wallace senior hold a council chair on the Gabrieleno Tongva tribe? I do recall a person by that name on the council. No Wallace Jr., wants to attack the creditability and reputation of a Board Certified Genealogist. Tell me Jr., how many years have YOU been a certified Genealogist and how many genealogy reports have you put your stamp on??? Tell me what job do you hold down to support yourself besides being a president of a non-profit, who solicits funds to operate from federal,state,county and or city grants. Oh I forgot charitable foundations too.
    Can you sit down with me and show me evidence that Ms Escobar has been “widely discredited as a Genealogist? I too have a CDIB and CIJR number but that alone does not make me a valid native. That’s where a Board Certified Genealogist report is much more accurate and that’s why the Office of Federal Aknowledgement have them to identify the valid natives from pretendians. One last thing to mention to you and your non-profit. The ashes of my brother-in-law and sister were spread at Henninger Flats when they passed away and one day mine will be there to.
    I buried some of my sisters ashes there with certain items she will want in the afterlife. The HenningerAcuna family are one of the most documented California Mission Indians.Henninger Flats according to OUR NATIVE TRADITIONS is sacred ground for us, never to be disturbed by man or machine. Is can only be disturbed by MOTHER nature for the are now one with her in the afterlife. To disturb this area is disrespectful to the Henninger/Acuna family and native beliefs!!! That sacred site is to remain the sane for a long as the sun and raises on MOTHER earth.

  10. I need to correct myself. My brother-in-law’s native ancestry is from Baja California. Thank you Lorraine Escobar for correcting me. I hope you see now why I trust Ms Escobar Mr. Cleaves. She is an expert in her field and you are not a certified genealogist.

  11. Lorraine Escobar’s report is completely misleading. It allows Andy Salas to say that the Morales’ are not CA Indian, when the report is incomplete. Escobar do not investigate the Morales line after David (Anthony’s Grandfather) in the report. It gives readers the impression that the Morales’ are “pretendians” when the report is incomplete. I would assume you stopped at David Morales because the evidence shows that he was Gabrieleno and therefore Anthony Morales and his extended family are also. Escobar may be a certified genealogist, but she did not complete Anthony Morales’ genealogy to prove if he is or is not Gabrieleno. All of the comments here and elsewhere that are based on this report stating that he is not Gabrieleno are made without evidence. Escobar’s report is being used to defame the Morales’ when it in fact does not say he is not California Indian. If you read it, it does not make that statement.

    • I do not know who you are “Tongva NDN” but I suspect you are someone who does not know how to read the report and the purpose for which it was written. If you did read it, you would know I was not hired to investigate all of Morale’s lineages. However, I was hired to report on the incorrect information he provided to the author of “O My Ancestor” wherein he claimed his Valenzuela relatives were full-blooded Gabrieleno. His claims, as written down in that book, are not correct and demonstrates that Morales did not do his homework before making those claims.

      • I can read just fine. Your report was designed to be incomplete, I get that. I’m pointing out the obvious for those who cannot read your report as being incomplete. The generations after David Morales would, I assume, prove that they are Gabrieleno. Anthony Morales’ claims in the book was unfounded as you prove, but that does not mean he is not a lineal descendent as the readers of your report have concluded. The quote by Salas in the article which hyperlinks your report shows his inability to read. You do not come to the conclusion that Morales is not CA Indian, or as stated by Salas, “Their family may have indigenous ancestors, but not from here.” Your report has mislead them (whether that is your intention or not). Is it your responsibility to correct their misreading? Thats an ethical question that’s up to you and how you want folks to perceive your work and intentions in doing it. If I were you, I would be embarrassed and upset that the people paying me for my work are intentionally misusing it to defame others.

        • Then it is your complaint that the owner of the report (not me) is misapplying the information contained in the report. To say my “report is misleading” is a misleading statement in itself, isn’t it? It’s the pot calling the kettle black. I fulfilled my responsibility in collecting and assessing the reliable evidence and delivered a conclusion based on that evidence. I am not embarrassed in the least. However, you should be.

  12. I think the publisher shouldn’t allow comments from folks who hide behind a Pseudonym. If they wish to comment, they should reveal their name which I thought was a requirement.or policy for public comments. Why would someone hide behind a pseudonym unless they have something to hide.

  13. Johnathan White I truly agree with you sir
    Those that hide behind their comments are hiding about other facts as well.
    This excellent article has helped expose what wrong has been happening to the Kizh Gabrieleno history for the last 30 plus years!
    Remember, the truth always comes out in the end,
    No matter how hard anyone tries to hide it or stop it
    Lies are just a temporary delay to the inevitable..
    I thank you so very much Lorraine Escobar for your expertise in confirming what we learned from our Beloved Father and elders
    You are awesome and I am proud to be Kizh Gabrieleno!
    Tongva group, A suggestion prove you are with supporting documents
    Don’t be afraid of the outcome
    It’s important for your children and your children’s children know who they are rather than hearsay
    Good luck

  14. In response to Betty Ramirez.
    In the days of Cristobala Romero and Maria P. Lopez it was not uncommon for Mexican or Spanish males with children from Mexican or Spanish females to remarry a native women and start another family. Thus the birth of the myth my mother or grandmother is native but never told about who your REAL mother is.
    Now we have DNA. I have taken 2 DNA tests and will take more but as yet Anthony Morales has not come up or his brother and sister, so what does that tell you?
    There is an old saying before DNA” how do you know who your daddy is unless your mom told you so or for that matter who your mother really is”. Ah but now we have DNA and now I have alot more immediate family members then I knew before. I am working now to establish a Gabrieleno DNA database so that anyone who thinks,claims or just want to know what native tribe there family is from will and have a RIGHT TO KNOW!!! And if that happens goodbye PRETENDIANS and take your Indian show to another state.

  15. Heidi Lucero,talk to any expert and they will tell you one day they will be able to tell you what native tribe you belong too by DNA.
    At one time people used to believe the world was flat!!!!
    Pretendians are afraid of 2 things.
    1. Thru DNA testing they CANNOT be connected to a genealogical ancestral native.
    2.DNA Gabrieleno data base.
    When that day comes your Indian show will be exposed and you will have to go to another state and aquire another name.

  16. Just like the old medicine shows that sold fake medicine from town to town in the old west.
    Only today it is individuals going from one tribe to another.

  17. Albert, Heidi is cool, she’s not a pretender. She is only trying to provide credible resources.

    In regards to DNA testing, it’s not there yet. Forensic DNA and geneaology research is expensive and exhausting, the results are pretty good but it’s not fool proof either. It will take time to develop concrete databases.

  18. Jonathan, I believe that when the day comes when DNA can prove that you come from a certain native tribe, it should be the 8th criteria on the Office of Federal Acknowledgedment. At that time a National Native Identification Card should be issued. Then we cal eliminate the injustice in federal recognized and non-federal recognized natives. In this country there are more non-recognized then federally recognized natives. Federally recognized are no more native then I am!!! Now when that day comes so does the PRETENDIAN problem!!!!

  19. To All Responders:
    Lorraine Escobar researched my family & I did not like the results. But she was 100% accurate. I took a DNA test in 2021 & it confirmed her findings.

    DNA testing along with ancestor lineage research is the only way to move forward and heal. AND truly know whose telling lies and truths.

    For those who are unwilling to do so, you are part of the main problem and not a part of the solution. For those who call yourselves Chiefs, leaders or tribal council members are you ARE THE PROBLEM! Be leaders & come to a resolution. Enough of years of pointing fingers. Not one tribe deserves anything until everyone comes together and faces the ugly truth.

  20. Great article Felicia!!!
    YOU should be a tribal leader, then the Gabrieleno natives will get somewhere, instead of being money making non-profits.

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