After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County to itself.
But in order to ensure the health and safety of the Tongva people and the animals that depend on their land, the Tongva are poised to file an official claim—a constitutional challenge to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that protects public health and safety.
“We are hoping that the California courts will hear our appeal,” said Tongva elder William F. White, who’s a plaintiff in the case, at the Tongva community’s annual meeting, held March 31 at the Tongva community hall. “The California Environmental Quality Act is a law that has a strong anti-Tongva message.”
Trying to make the claim official, the Tongva are seeking to file a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, asking the court judge to declare the environmental statute’s protections for the Tongva to be unconstitutional.
To understand how the Tongva see themselves in the process, check out the following video.
“We’d rather the California courts and the U.S. Supreme Court hear our case,” White said. “This is our issue, this is our way of protecting our people and the animals who depend on our land.”
While much of their discussion is focused on why the California environmental statute does not protect them and their land, White is quick to take one issue to his personal conclusions: “The California Environmental Quality Act has a strong anti-Tongva message.”
Tongva is the smallest member of a Native American nation, which are often called the original inhabitants of the California coast, known to the U.S. as the Tongva.
The Tongva are a community of over 20,000 people at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, in the Sonoran Desert, about 65 miles southeast of the Mexican border.
The Tongva culture is a mix of indigenous people, who are believed to have originally migrated from China, and Mexican-U.S. settlers