UCLA signs agreement with local tribal community for use of land

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A new agreement between UCLA and members of the Gabrielino Tongva tribe will ensure that traditional ways of planting, harvesting and gathering are part of campus landscaping and caretaking practices.

The memorandum of understanding also establishes guidelines that provide access to the descendants of the original inhabitants of the land that UCLA has occupied for nearly 100 years for ceremonial events, workshops and community educational opportunities.

“It is with our deepest gratitude that we, the Gabrielino/Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, enter into a partnership with UCLA,” said Anthony Morales, tribal chairman. “There are those that speak words and those that follow up with action. When action is taken, healing can begin. This is the first step of many that are needed to ensure our tribal members and ancestral home lands have a shared space where gathering can occur. We look forward to future endeavors and continued partnership with UCLA.”

In 2019 UCLA implemented an acknowledgement, now used during campus events and in official communications, that the campus is located on the traditional, ancestral lands of the Tongva. The new agreement is one of a series of recent developments at UCLA and across the University of California, that expand access to education for Native students.

In June, UCLA introduced the Native American and Pacific Islander Bruins Rising Initiative, which will create eight new faculty positions for scholars with expertise in American Indian and Pacific Islander Studies

And in April the University of California announced the Native American Opportunity Plan, ensure that in-state systemwide tuition and student service fees for California students from federally recognized Native American tribes are fully covered by grants or scholarships.

“We are in a time of welcome sea change for Native issues on campus with great support from the highest level of leadership,” said Shannon Speed, director of UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center and one of two special advisors on Native and Indigenous Affairs to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “I look forward to working with tribal leaders and the community to fully realize the potential of the agreement, as well as develop future endeavors of mutual benefit to the Tongva community and to UCLA.”

More on UCLA Newsroom.