Author: Thomas

The Tongva Tribe is suing Los Angeles County to remove them from the county

The Tongva Tribe is suing Los Angeles County to remove them from the county

After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County and is suing after the county seized its land without a hearing.

It’s an extraordinary legal battle, because at stake is not just the land that is being taken from the Tongva; it’s the right to the use of the land the tribe has occupied for generations (with varying levels of legal, political and other support) in the name of cultural and religious expression and self-determination.

On Sept. 19, 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued a resolution declaring Tongva territory is located in the county and is subject to county jurisdiction. The Los Angeles County Attorney subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Tongva from the county.

Tongva is a term that encompasses four Native American tribes (the Tongva, the Yahi, the Acoma and the Pomo). Together, they form a nation-within-a-nation, in which the land the tribes call home is not legally owned under the Indian Land Act, which allows non-Indians to own tribal land for “religious, medicinal or other purposes.”

The tribe says it was “for the sole purpose of maintaining cultural and religious practices,” and that the county took land belonging to it. The County contends that the tribe was not using the land for cultural and religious purposes, that it was merely grazing cattle in the area, and that the decision belongs solely to the county.

“The county is not only trying to take our land without our consent; it’s trying to take our land without our knowledge of what we are doing,” said tribal spokesman Jim Lewis.

The tribe has had a long and contentious relationship with Los Angeles County. Lewis said in an interview that as the county grew, the tribe was removed from much of the land to make room for other government projects: “The county was trying to make room for other services. They felt the Tongva had taken resources from the forest to use for cattle grazing, and they took land out to make room. So they were trying to take us out to make room.”

The county also argued in its lawsuit against the tribe that although the tribe was not grazing cattle in the area, they were “straying and trespassing” — causing significant damage to the county’s vegetation and other resources

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