Council Reaches Consensus on Park Name

Santa Monica City Council votes on a new and "unfamiliar" name for Palisades Garden Walk. It's a nod to the area's oldest inhabitants.

Rejecting the weird and the unoriginal, the City Council picked a new name for Santa Monica's newest park Tuesday night: Tongva Park, after the first inhabitants of Los Angeles.

Tongva Park replaces placeholder name Palisades Garden Walk for the 6-acre park that will connect Main Street to Palisades Park. It is one of two parks under construction in the city's civic area, and when it opens this fall, will feature native plants, play areas for children and hills with ocean views.

The name "will be a spectacular learning opportunity," said councilwoman Gleam Davis. "It is an unfamiliar word."

Councilman Bob Holbrook cast the dissenting vote, which was 4-1, saying "I’ve lived here over 70 years and never heard the name." He said he preferred a "simple" name, like The Commons or Central Park, "but all the great park names have already been used."

There are 500,000 Native Americans who live in Los Angeles, Wendy Teeter, the Fowler Museum's curator of archaeology and a Venice resident, told the council.

But "we have a hard time getting people to understand the history of Los Angeles," she said.

When it last discussed a new name in October, the council was unable to reach a consensus. It asked for the community's input, but that didn't help much—there was no clear favorite and some of the suggestions were pretty weird ("Spaceship Adventure Park" and "Planetarium of Eden," for example).

POLL: Help Rename Palisades Garden Walk

Santa Monica resident Paulina Sahagun told the council in the fall that naming the new green space Tongva Park would lead to "teachable moments." She said teachers could tell students, "this is where the original people of this land stood."

"We need to set a precedent," she said. "Too much development has happened and we forget [the history.]"

This isn't Santa Monica's first homage to the Tongva.

Moomat Ahiko, a street that runs below the Santa Monica Pier, connecting Ocean Avenue to Appian Way, is a Tongva word that means "breath of the ocean," said Davis.

Nearby at Loyola Marymount University, there's a Tongva memorial featuring bowls, pottery shards and stone hunting tools.

The Tongva, "meaning People of the Earth," were later called the Gabrielino.

The Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians disavows Tongva as the original name of the Indians associated with the San Gabriel Mission. They believe Kizh is the proper name.

More than half a dozen speakers at Tuesday night's meeting urged the council to choose Tongva.

Correction: This article was updated at 3:15 p.m. to correct a statement by Wendy Teeter on the number of Native Americans living in Los Angeles.

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Matt Lovio April 05, 2014 at 03:07 AM
To MarcoPolo I'd like to first thank you for your given comment. I'd also like to apologize for responding to your blog over a year later. But better late than never, right? Anyway, let's get to the point shall we? You are correct sir, although the name "Tongva" may seem strange & weird to you. That name is not to I and the rest of my people! In fact, that name was the first moniker to be used to identify the people and nation of this part of the continent. While European nation were still in their infancy! I'm pretty sure that the name "Marco Polo" is not your real name. Or if you are of Italian descent and ancestry. I'm sure your aware that the name "SkyEagle" is not my birth name either. It's the name I earned at one of our naming ceremonies years ago. And just like my earned name sir, is why the name to this park is so important to us today! So much has been inflicted upon us, and taken as well by foreign European powers. And to make matters worse, we even have traitor factions as well!!! Feculent, dishonorable excuses for Native Americans, let alone human beings!!! And in many ways, no different than the Spanish invaders who tried to conquer us! Anyway sir, please try to understand that why this name means so much to us. Whenever we are recognized and acknowledged, we are given what you and others of foreign cultural descent take for granted- respect. SkyEagle sings with his Heart Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel band of Mission Indians 'Pride, Honor & Survivors'
Matt Lovio April 07, 2014 at 05:59 AM
To Ding Gullberry I'm writing in regards to you about your blog that you wrote. It's interesting what wrote about, ignoring the past- forging to the future. Although the names you suggested were rather..... somewhat interesting ( in a very weird way ). I'm afraid that I'll have to disagree with you. There's no way anyone should go for the name; "Robot City Playground" ( I mean seriously )!!! And although the moniker "Cloud Park" has an American Indian type of connotation and reference. I also disagree with that name as well. The reason why I disagree with you sir is because of this. If you would read my last reference to the gentlemen above, you would see the primary reason why. But because not only it mean so much to my people, but to educate the populace as well. According to the last census for the Gabrieleno Tongva, if were lucky, there's maybe- maybe two thousand Tongva left today! Twenty five hundred tops- pretty sad huh?! There are numerous foreign cultures from throughout the world here in the City of Los Angeles ( or the village of "Ya'ang'nga in Tongva ), and immediate surrounding areas. And that's what makes this part of the country so unique. However there's an old saying that my people, the Tongva have. It goes like this..... "Learn from the past, to create the future". SkyEagle Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel band of Mission Indians 'Pride, Honor & Survivors'
Matt Lovio April 08, 2014 at 03:26 PM
To Dan Charney With all due respect, what the hell are you talking about?! And more importantly, just what does that ridiculous banter have to do with Tongva park..... hello?!
Matt Lovio April 15, 2014 at 06:30 AM
To Glenn E. Grab Not to impugn or besmirch you sir, but with all due respect. That last comment about you critiquing this politician named "Gleam Davis"? Even I have to admit, that's one unusual name. But you of all people are questioning his name with a name like Glenn E. Grab?! Seriously?! SkyEagle Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel band of Mission Indians
Matt Lovio April 20, 2014 at 11:28 PM
This comment is for the young woman named Jill Meyiha ( Tongva for "Hello" ), my name is SkyEagle sings with his Heart. I'm a member of the "Gabrieleno Tongva nation, in other words, the first indigenous people of Los Angeles and surrounding areas. I have read your blog and can perfectly understand, if not feel the frustration within it! I and my family recently moved from Pasadena back to my hometown of San Gabriel. And what I mean by that is this, I'm not a close resident of the village of "Sa'ang'nga" ( modern day town of 'Santa Monica' ). I can only imagine the pain of having to traverse to a distant public park when there should be a park closer to where you reside, I get that! And yes, I also get the fact that Tongva park is for the residents of Santa Monica. But what you consider insignificant, means so much to the first people of Los Angeles ( or "Ya'ang'nga" in Tongva ). This park is not just there to kick back and rest your feet, if you think about it. It's also to educate the populace about my ancestors. Until then, Hoot- too'Karesh ( Tongva for "See you later" ). SkyEagle Gabrieleno Tongva Pride, Honor & Survivors


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