After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County, now and forever.
There is a Tongva Native American graveyard in South Gate. There is a Tongva Church in Venice. There is a Tongva neighborhood in Beverly Hills. There is a Tongva Park in Santa Monica. And there is a Tongva Museum in Culver City.
It is no secret that a significant portion of the community is white.
This is not unusual. In Southern California, the color of race is measured through census data. More than 80 percent are white. Only 4 percent are Asian.
A recent study estimated the Tongva population at 1,200. Tongva is the preferred term, but the only people who use it are the government.
So we know that their numbers in this county are probably less than that. Not many people count Tongva.
There are two main reasons for their population decline.
First, they started to move to Mexico as children. The Tongva elders say their ancestors began moving into the United States as young teenagers, but the federal government decided to stop them at some point in the early 1960s.
The Tongva elders say the federal government was wrong. It was not necessary.
Their elders say the Tongva never moved here illegally. They could have been illegal immigrants but chose to stay in Mexico or chose to go to Costa Rica or Chile for their education.
The second reason is the white flight of Californians. The Tongva elders say there is no longer a large Tongva population, and that is why white Californians are leaving.
A recent study by the University of Southern California estimates they are losing over a quarter of their population.
One hundred and seventy-three Tongva elders spoke in a meeting about two years ago, but they are not in the official records. The elders said since they were not official census respondents, they would not be counted, so that they could not be included in the final census.
They are trying to keep the numbers, and they are trying to keep their culture. People who live in Tongva country are worried that their community will disappear. They do not want to leave their land because they are told there is no longer a large Tongva population.
We did not include Tongva in the census. All but the elders said they wanted people to know there is a Tongva people, and that there is a Tongva community, and that