Saluting L.A.`s Ancestral Lands at the Oscars

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Saluting L.A.`s Ancestral Lands at the Oscars
By: Katherine Schaffstall, The Hollywood Reporter
10 February 2020

Taika Waititi may have left some viewers wondering about the history behind the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash tribes when he mentioned the groups while presenting the Academy`s honorary prizes during the 2020 Oscars on Sunday night….

While introducing the winners of the Academy’s honorary prizes, including Native American actor Wes Studi, Waititi recognized the native people who occupied the land where the Dolby Theatre currently sits. The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works, he said during the speech.

The Tongva tribe are a group of Native American people that settled in Southern California, historically inhabiting the Los Angeles Basin and the Southern Channel Islands.

The tribe is believed to have descended from Uto-Aztecan-speaking peoples who originated in what is now Nevada and moved southwest to coastal Southern California 3,500 years ago.

Known as a society of hunter-gatherers, the Tongva tribe often traded goods with neighboring groups.

The Tataviam are similarly based in Southern California. The group occupied an area in what is now northwest present-day Los Angeles County and southern Ventura County, primarily in the upper basin of the Santa Clara River, the Santa Susana Mountains and the Sierra Pelona Mountains. The Santa Clarita Valley is believed to be the center of Tataviam territory, which is north of Los Angeles.

The Spanish first encountered the Tataviam during the group`s expeditions from 1769-1770. Similar to other indigenous groups, they suffered high rates of fatalities after contracting infectious diseases brought by the Spanish.

The Tataviam tribe are still active and work to maintain a tribal government.

The Chumash are a tribe of Native American people who historically inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California, specifically what is now the San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. They also settled in the three Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. The group inhabited the land approximately 13,000 years ago.

The name Chumash means bead maker or seashell people, which was inspired by the tribe originating near the Santa Barbara coast. The Chumash tribe benefited by being near a variety of marine habitats and the intensive currents in coastal waters, which made the Santa Barbara Channel region one of the most resourceful places to live.

Waititi also paid tribute to his Maori culture while accepting best adapted screenplay for Jojo Rabbit. The writer and director, who is the first indigenous person to win in the category, concluded his speech with the Maori greeting “kia ora, which is an expression of thanks.

Taika Waititi saluted last year’s Governors Awards recipients, but he made sure to pay tribute to Los Angeles’ predecessors.

“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, Tataviam and the Chumash,” he said onstage at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday.

“We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which our motion picture community lives and works,” he said.

The “Jojo Rabbit” writer, director and actor took home an Oscar for adapted screenplay, becoming the first person of Maori descent to win an Academy Award and the first indigenous person to be nominated in the category.

During his acceptance speech, he dedicated his honor to indigenous children around the world: “We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well.”

Original article

Photo on front page: Taika Waititi, winner of the adapted screenplay Oscar for “Jojo Rabbit,” honored ancestral lands. Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Photo on this page: Kevin Núñez, Emma Núñez, and Nathan Núñez of Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel band of Mission Indians in DTLA for LA’s first indigenous day, 8 October 2018. Source: . Alyssa Jeong Perry on Twitter: @alyssajperry.

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