Native Americans won an important victory on September 3, when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge temporarily blocked plans to build a mini-mall on the last remnant of the Gabrielino village of Puvungna. The court ordered Cal State Long Beach officials "restrained and enjoined . . . from causing any further unnatural disturbance . . . and from baring appropriate Native American access to the land at issue."
This court action is the culmination of a long struggle by the Native American community and their supporters to save Puvungna from the backhoes of archaeologists and the bulldozers of developers.
The entire Cal State Long Beach University campus, as well as much of the neighboring area, sits atop the historically and archaeologically known village sites of Puvungna, sacred to Southern California Indians since it was a creation center and the place where the prophet Chinigchinich lived and taught. Puvungna was a historic pilgrimage site and this last remaining strip of Puvungna is still used by many Native Americans as a place of worship.
The planned mini-mall was to have been built on the last undeveloped remnant of Puvungna, about 25 acres along Bellflower Boulevard on the western edge of campus. The area contains burial and reburial sites, two acres of community garden plots--known as the Organic Gardens--which were established on the first Earth Day, and a large natural area where numerous birds, mammals, trees, and grasses flourish and where summer day camps for youngsters have been held for many years. The area, together with a portion of the historic Rancho Los Alamitos east of campus, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 because of the religious and cultural significance of Puvungna.
Since last fall, when campus officials announced their plans to build a mini-mall on the site, gardeners, local residents, and Native Americans have been mobilizing to save Puvungna. After first attempting to conceal the National Register status of the site, campus officials began to deny its significance and planned an archaeological "dig" to prove this was not "really" Puvungna. These efforts are opposed not only by the Native American community but also by archaeologists most familiar with the campus. As one archaeologist put it, no amount of digging willcome up with a prehistoric sign that says "Welcome to Puvungna!" Archaeology cannot determine cultural and spiritual values, only the Indian people can determine those values and they have spoken very clearly: No Development!
Campus officials, however have refused to listen to the concerns of the Native American community. Consequently members of several different Indian tribes, represented by the ACLU, and the Native American Heritage Commission, a state agency represented by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, have been forced to go to court to block both the archaeological "dig" and the planned mini-mall.
The law is clearly on the side of the Indians, but campus officials seem to be willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a case they will surely lose. Our struggle to Save Puvungna will be a long one.
You Can Help! [ see other side ]
The struggle to Save Puvungna is not over, and the Save Puvungna Coalition needs your help. Campus officials such as President Anatol have shown that they will not listen to the complaints of either the Native or non-Native community. The CSU Trustees have been equally unresponsive. Our last recourse is elected officials in Sacramento: Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Senate President David Roberti, and Governor Pete Wilson. Perhaps they will listen.
Write them, and also State Senator Tom Hayden who has supported our struggle, and ask them why campus officials are allowed to spend our tax dollars on lawyers while classes are being cut and faculty face layoffs. Ask them why campus officials won't listen to community concerns. Ask them why campus officials are allowed to treat Indians in such a shoddy manner. Ask them to enforce Governor Wilson's Executive Order W-26-92, which requires all state agencies to administer the cultural and historic properties under their control "in a spirit of stewardship and trusteeship for future generations."
Tell them we don't need another mini-mall in Long Beach. We need more Organic Gardens, and we need to preserve our Native American Heritage. Send a xerox copy of your letter to the Trustees and to President Anatol, so they will know we care.
Governor Pete Wilson: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Tel: 916 445-2864. (Los Angeles office: 213 897-0322)
Assembly Speaker Willie Brown: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Tel: 916 445-8077.
Senate President David Roberti: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Tel: 916 445-8390.
Senator Tom Hayden: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Tel: 916 445-1353. (Los Angeles office: 310 441-9084)
CSU Trustees: 400 Golden Shore, Long Beach, CA 90802-4275.
Tel: 310 985-2670.
President Karl Anatol: CSULB, Long Beach, CA 90840.
Campus officials are using taxpayers money to destroy Puvungna, but the struggle to preserve Puvungna depends on the voluntary efforts and contributions of our supporters. Contributions are appreciated and will help us continue our struggle. Checks should be made out to "Save Puvungna" and sent to:
Save Puvungna Coalition
5595 East 7th Street #411
Long Beach, CA 90804
We are maintaining a regular vigil at the site, and walk around the site in prayer every evening at 6:30 (we will probably start earlier when it starts to get dark earlier).
We hold our regular meetings of the Save Puvungna Coalition every Tuesday evening at 7:30 at the site.
We meet for both of these in the parking lot next to the Organic Gardens. To find us, enter the campus from Bellflower Boulevard onto State University Drive, take your first left onto Earl Warren Drive, and then another left into the parking lot. Take still another left and we will be up near the fenced-in Organic Gardens.
NOTE: This flyer was edited with minor updates (e.g. asking people to write to our new President, Maxson, instead of the Governor) and widely distributed during 1994 and 1995.
This document posted: July 18, 1995.