As much as I like to write about local history related to Howard Hughes and the groundbreaking aeronautical work he did here in Playa Vista, there is another powerful history that has often been overlooked: the history of the native Tongva people.
The Tongva, also known as the San Gabriel Band or Gabrieliños, were Playa Vista’s first residents. It’s easy to see why the Tongva’s hunter-gatherer society thrived in this area for thousands of years: an ample bounty of seafood in Santa Monica Bay, pristine coastal wetlands as far as the eye could see, and the bluffs providing natural protection from the elements.
Though much of the native people’s history has been forgotten, I was intrigued by a tweet that showed a professor and her students making efforts to keep the Tongva name alive. Loyola Marymount University history professor Elizabeth Drummond had shared a photo of her students at Runway giving “free history lessons” about the Tongva to anyone interested.
Call me a history nerd, but I found this event to be one of the most delightful things to happen in Playa Vista recently. I was thrilled when Professor Drummond agreed to share with Playa Vista Direct why these types of history lessons matter. I hope you enjoy reading her story.
Intrigued by the Tongva people, a little research online revealed a notable Tongva Medicine woman named Toypurina who led a rebellion against the Spanish rule in 1785. Though her efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, her lionhearted spirit inspired me. It made me think about all the women in Playa Vista today who work in tech and medicine, women who are entrepreneurs, and women fighting for smaller classroom sizes for their children in the recent teachers’ strike. The stories and photographs included in this issue show Playa Vista’s women are also willing to stand up against the establishment and have their voices heard.
Once again, Playa Vista is revealed to be an inspiring place to live, work and rebel.
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