Puvungna Warpath

By: 
Sev Williams

I’m writing about an ongoing conflict on the California State University-Long Beach campus, where Native American tribal groups have been trying to stop the university from desecrating the most significant remaining parcel of sacred tribal land in Southern California. The groups filed a lawsuit against the university and are currently in settlement negotiations, but the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the courts, slowed down the legal process and delayed the timeline for addressing the damage done to this land.

The university recently dumped large quantities of construction debris and dirt on Puvungna, a 22-acre site that holds religious, cultural and historical significance for the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation – Belardes, the Gabrielino/Tongva and several other Native American groups in Southern California. These tribal groups’ legal and historical rights are being buried in a thinly veiled effort by the CSU system to move toward “capping” this site in order to clear the way to develop it.

Even though the campus is closed to students because of the pandemic, this land rights issue remains an active concern. While the groups that are concerned about protecting the integrity of Puvungna understand that the CSULB administration is facing unprecedented challenges under COVID-19, they maintain that the university has a legal and moral responsibility to remove the construction dirt and debris from this site, which has been sacred ground since time immemorial. Removing the debris would be a permissible construction-related activity under California’s current COVID-19 restrictions.

Members of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians and other tribal nations hold ceremonies on Puvungna throughout the year. Puvungna is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the California Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Lands Inventory.

Category:

Add new comment

Beachcomber

Copyright 2020 Beeler & Associates.

All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced or transmitted – by any means – without publisher's written permission.