Tongva Village Site

Learn about the heritage of the local indigenous people

Members of the Tongva Tribe and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden have worked together to design and construct a replica of a traditional Tongva family village unit at the Garden.


An Introduction to the Tongva

The word Tongva means “people of the earth. The Gabrieleno-Tongva have lived in the Los Angeles basin dating back to 7000 b.c.e. Approximately 5,000 Tongva lived in the region when the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1769. Tovangar stretched across the Los Angeles basin, the four Southern Channel Islands, northern parts of Orange County and northwestern San Bernardino County. Many local communities have adapted Tongva names—Cahuenga, Topanga, Tujunga, Cucamonga, Azusa, Jurupa and Pacoima.

On the future site of the city of Claremont, the Tongva village Torojoatngna (“the place below snowy mountain”) was nestled below Mount Baldy. Known as Joat, Mount Baldy is one of the four Tongva sacred mountains. The surrounding neighbor villages became the sites of the modern cities of Pomona (Toibingna), Covina (Weniingna), San Dimas (Momwamomotngna), Rancho Cucamonga (Kukamongna), Walnut (Pemookangna), La Puente (Awingna) and El Monte (Houtngna).

The Tongva came to be called Gabrielenos by the Spanish because of their association with the Mission San Gabriel. The first Mission San Gabriel Archangel was built in 1771 on the banks of the Rio Hondo. The mission was moved to the Tongva village of Sibangna in 1775 and was renamed San Gabriel. Many of the Tongva joined the mission (and the Mission San Fernando 1797). After conversion, the Tongva were urged to assimilate and abandon their villages and culture. Despite this, much of their rich culture survived.

Today there are more than 300 enrolled members of the Gabrieleno-Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians and possibly more than 2,000 descendents presently live in the land still called Tovangar.

Learn more at the Gabrieleno-Tongva of San Gabriel website

Come visit RSABG's Tongva Village Site and learn more about the heritage and cultural practices of the indigenous people of the Los Angeles basin.