Major Tongva locations in Los Angeles

The land the USC occupies belongs to the Tongva people, the indigenous community of the Los Angeles Basin. For over 9,000 years they ruled Tovaangar, which covered nearly 4,000 square miles. Independent villages traditionally ruled the country but were linked by language, culture and trade. Known as “the people of the earth”, the Tongva were deeply connected to their environment and believed that humans must partake of a mutually respectful relationship with plants and animals. When the Spanish first arrived in Southern California in 1769, there were nearly 100 Tongva villages and 5,000 people. The Tongva population is estimated at 3,000 today. These are some of the most famous Tongva sites from across the region.

Kuruvungna holy springs:

The first residents of Santa Monica lived in the village of Kuruvungna, which means “a place where we are in the sun”. The springs served the Tongva as a source of fresh water and were surrounded by thatched-roof houses called Kiiys. Developed today as University High School, part of the LA Unified School District, the springs still exist today on part of the site amid the rich foliage of the sacred ground.


Yaangna was the largest known Tongva village near what is now downtown LA below the 101 Freeway. Located on the LA River, the village was an important trading center for the people of the region. In the center of the village stood a sacred plane tree, which under its branches offered shelter and gathering among the tribal elders.

San Gabriel Mission:

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, the San Gabriel Valley had several interconnected indigenous communities, located in a concentric circle. The Spaniards recognized the fertile land as ideal for growing grain and built their first settlement in the valley. The mission later served as a place for the forced enslavement and assimilation of the Tongva people.


About 2,500 members of the Tongva tribe used to live on Catalina Island. The tribe took advantage of flora, fauna, fresh water and the abundant marine life on the island. They founded small villages that are now Avalon, Two Harbors, and Toyon Bay. Families created effective food systems by using the resources around them. Men hunted the game while women gathered seeds, berries and other items the land provided.


Puvungna was a rural village where the Cal State Long Beach campus is located. Southern California tribes like the Tongva and Acjachemen considered the land sacred. Puvungna was known as the “place of origin”. In addition to being considered a village, the site was also a gathering place and an active ceremonial site between the tribes. Five hundred acres and over a dozen archaeological sites have been attributed to the village squares of Puvungna, but most have been decimated and overbuilt by development.

Comments are closed.