LA's Largest-Ever Land Back an 'Important Step' in the Movement

Signage at Chief Ya'anna Learning Village. (TZICATL- Community Development Corporation)Photo/
Signage at Chief Ya'anna Learning Village. (TZICATL- Community Development Corporation)Photo/

The Anawakalmekak International University Preparatory of North America and Tzicatl Community Development Corporation celebrated a historic moment on Friday, September 22, 2023, as 12 acres of land were officially returned to the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California, the original custodians of this land.

The event represents the largest land restoration to an Indigenous tribe in the history of Los Angeles.

“Today’s return is an important victory for returning land stolen from Indigenous peoples,” Marcos Aguilar, executive director of Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America (AIUP). “Twelve acres is but a small piece of a city that spreads across 321,000 acres, and yet, today is an important step in the Land Back movement.”

The recovered land will serve as the location for the Chief Ya’anna Learning Village, a hub for both students and the wider community to engage in Native ecosystem restoration, climate mitigation, and the essential process of decolonization.

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A ceremony marking the land's return took place today at the future site of the Learning Village, now under the guardianship of the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California, who generously made it accessible for the Learning Village's purpose.

This acquisition was made possible through the generous support of the California Endowment, NDN Collective LANDBACK Fund, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Metabolic Studio, TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, Anawakalmekak, and Tzicatl Community Development Corporation.

Nick Tilsen, President and CEO of NDN Collective, expressed, "Through the acquisition of land and the revival of language and culture, AIUP is fostering autonomous communities for intertribal Indigenous people, youth, and families, both locally and internationally. We hope that this moment serves as a call to action to restore land to Indigenous hands, inspiring other Indigenous communities to follow suit."

During the event, California State Assemblymember Wendy Carillo bestowed Certificates of Appreciation upon those instrumental in facilitating the Land Back return.

Other notable speakers included Nicholas Rocha, chair of the Gabrielino-Shoshone Tribal Council of Southern California; Dr. Bob Ross, CEO of the California Endowment; Josue Rivas on behalf of the NDN Collective; Milli Macene-Moore of Metabolic Studio; representatives from the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles Dept. of Public Works; and Marcos Aguilar and Minnie Ferguson of Anawakalmekak.

The day concluded with a community dialogue led and moderated by tribal council and youth leaders from the Anawakalmekak Academy.

CORRECTION: A pboto previously used for this incorrectly depicted the property. Native News Online apologizes for the error.

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