Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Native Month: Know Your "Na!"


Yesterday's first installment of Native Week gave you a profile of the Real Los Angeles Natives - The Tongva Native American tribe. Today, The Militant will show you where they lived.

We now know Los Angeles (the region) as a bustling metropolis megalopolis of some 15 million people - larger than the population of nations like Ecuador, Guatemala or Cambodia (!) And rightfully so -- this was a nation.

The Tongva was also surrounded by other nations - the Chumash (Ventura and Santa Barbara counties), the Tataviam (North San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita Valley), the Cahulla (eastern Inland Empire) and the Payomkuishum (North San Diego County).

Take a look at the names and locations of Tongva villages, superimposed over a map of today's Los Angeles (Map updated 9/16/2011):
(Click on map to crumulently embiggen!)
This map was done with much Militant research, but it is no means comprehensive. There were more villages, whose names escaped documented hustory. Some of the locations are generalized and not precise.

Of course, the Tongva nation wasn't nearly as populous - it only had somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

By looking at the map, you would notice a few things. First, the densities of the villages. Unlike modern Los Angeles, which has its development and poulation centered around Downtown Los Angeles and the area slightly to the west of it, the villages were largely located along the rivers (from west to east on the map: Ballona Creek (which once connected with the Los Angeles River during certain seasons), The Los Angeles River, The San Gabriel River and The Santa Ana River). There were also large swaths of nothingness, mainly because, there were no natural resources (water source, farmable/huntable land) to take advantage of.The Tongva, being a seafaring people, also lived along the coast (Yes indeed, they before anyone else knew the value of beachfront property). There are also a large accumulation of villages (exact locations estimated only) clustered around the San Fernando and San Gabriel areas - of course, those are where the Spanish settlers established the Missions.

Second, though most of these names sound strange and exotic, some of them sound very familiar, and rightfully so -- their present-day names were Hispanicized versions of the original Tongva village name. Places like Cahugna (Cahuenga), Topagna (Topanga), Tuyunga (Tujunga), Azucsagna (Azusa) and Kukamogna (Rancho Cucamonga).

Lastly, most of them end with the letters "-na" or "-gna" (That was too weird sounding for the Spaniards, so they pronounced it "-nga"). That suffix meant, "place." These days, people ask you, "Where you from?" or "Where you stay?" The Militant asks, "Where's your na?"

Can you spot your neighborhood or city on the map?

Here's a list of Tongva villages (their name meanings if known) and their present-day locations (List updated 9/16/2011):

Achois – San Fernando
Ahaugna - North Long Beach, near Los Angeles River
Ahwaagna – Long Beach (Downtown/coast)
Akuuragna - Pasadena-San Marino
Ajaarvongna - Puente Hills
Amupungna - Compton
Apachiagna - Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles
Ashawagna - Chatsworth
Atavsangna - West Hills
Atavayagna - Palos Verdes
Awigna  - La Puente
Alyeupkigna – Santa Anita
Azucsagna (“Place of the grandmother”) – Azusa
Cahugna (“Place of the hill”) – Hollywood/Studio City
Chokishgna – Bellflower
Chowigna – Palos Verdes
Cucamogna – Rancho Cucamonga
Engvangna – Redondo Beach/Torrance
Guaspita – Westchester bluffs (LMU campus)
Hahamongna – Glendale/Pasadena
Homhoangna - Colton
Houtgna – Monterey Park/South San Gabriel
Huachongna - Culver City
Hutukgna - Anaheim
Huutngna - Watts/Willowbrook
Isantkagna - Mission Viejo
Isanthcogna – San Gabriel
Joatngna - Mt. Baldy area
Juyubit – San Gabriel, along the river
Kenyaangna - Newport Beach
Kinkipar - San Clemente Island
Komiikrangna - Malibu Canyon
Kowagna – San Fernando
Kuruvugna – West Los Angeles
Lukupangna – Huntington Beach/Costa Mesa
Masaugna – San Pedro
Maugna – Los Feliz
Momwahomomutngna - San Dimas
Moniikangna - Palos Verdes
Motuucheyngna - Seal Beach
Moyogna – Newport Beach
Muuhungna - Sylmar
Nacaugna – Downey
Okowvinjha – San Fernando
Ongoovangna - Redondo Beach
Ongobehangna - Malibu area
Pahav – Corona (southeast)
Pasbengna - Santa Ana
Pasinogna – Chino Hills
Paxauxa - Norco
Peruksngna - City of Industry
Pimocagna ("Place of the running water") – Pacoima
Pimugna – Santa Catalina Island
Pubugna – Long Beach (Alamitos/CSULB campus)
Puntitavjatngna - Pasadena
Pwingkuipar (“Full of Water”) – Playa Del Rey/Westchester
Quapa - Encino
Saangna – Santa Monica/Venice/Marina Del Rey
Sawayagna – San Fernando
Sehatgna – Whittier Narrows
Sheshiikuanungna - San Marino
Shiishongna - Corona
Shwaagna – Harbor City/Wilmington/Lomita
Sibagna – San Gabriel
Sisitcanogna – Northeast Pasadena
Siutcangna - Sherman Oaks
Sonagna - Downtown Los Angeles
Suangna – Cerritos
Tajauta - Willowbrook
Tibagna - North Long Beach/Lakewood
Toibigna - Pomona
Topagna (“The place above”) – Topanga
Torojoatngna - Claremont
Totongna - Northridge
Tovimongna - Coastal Palos Verdes
Toviseagna – San Gabriel
Tuyugna ("Place of the mountain range") – Tujunga
Wajijangna - Chino Hills
Watsngna - Fontana
Weningna - Covina
Wenot (“River”) – Los Angeles, along the river
Wikangna - Verdugo Hills
Yangna (“Place of the poison oak”) – Downtown Los Angeles

Do you know your Na?

11 comments:

The Maker Monk said...

Glad to see the proud name of Cucamonga gettin' some respect. I lived out there for 5 years and got tired of people thinking Mel Blanc invented the place as a Jack Benny routine!

Militant Angeleno said...

Don't feel insulted...they brought a Tongva place into mainstream culture!

Anna said...

Very interesting!

Valleypinoy said...

pho bich nga (gna) - westminster/garden grove

Walt said...

Awesome work. This could end so many local name disputes if we just reverted to the original names.

Militant Angeleno said...

Walt: Truly. The Tongva NEVER cared about this so-called "Westside-Eastside" dichotomy, which was introduced by 20th century and latter colonists.

LA MapNerd said...

By the way, most of my (rather cursory) research into Tongva place names suggests that the usual place-name suffix was "[...]ng-na." Topang-na, Tuhung-na, Kaweng-na, and so on.

The "[...]ng-na" sound sequence is unusual in Spanish, so most of the Spanish transliterations dropped the second 'n'.

(Can I ask where you found the translation for Cahuenga? I've seen several different suggested meanings, most of which struck me as rather dubious. But I hadn't heard "Place of the Hill" before.)

Now I'll have to dig through my assortment of Tongva place-name maps and see if I have anything to add to your already-excellent map. :-)

lucindamichele said...

I've always wondered where "Temecula" came from...and I wonder if Siutcangna, close as it is to the original outlines of the annexed city of Owensmouth aka Canoga Park, inspired the "Canoga." Very very cool. Did you find any Chumash sites?

Militant Angeleno said...

lucindamichele: Temecula is derived from a Payomkowishum place name called "Exva Temeeku." The Pechanga are part of this tribe.

"Canoga" is Native American-derived but is NOT of Tongva or of any native California origin. It was named after Canoga, NY, which was originally called "Ganogeh." Wrong part of the country...

As for Chumash, The Militant hasn't studied them as much, but there are lots of similarities with the Tongva, especially in their language, houses and boats.

Malibu came from a Chumash village called "Humaliwuw."

NELA-Native said...

Excellent post. There was also a village called Otsungna or Otsurgna "The Place Of Roses" in the community now known as El Sereno. There was (IS) a perennial stream that runs through the area-the 710 now occupies this arroyo, the perennial stream still runs along concrete channel on the south side of the 710. One of the first adobes in the state was built in the same area of the village in 1776--probably because of the water source AND labor source of the Tongva village (Cal State LA occupies the area where the adobe and probably the native village of Otsungna once stood). The El Sereno Historical Society has more info on their website's- archive page. Thanks for the great research.
www.ElSereno90032.org

e.r.feliciano said...

I started researching the Tongva Indians after reading the article "The Los Angeles Prairie", by Paula M. Schiffman, for a class I am taking. I am impressed by the work you've done about them. I really like the map youve created. Where did you find your sources for locations these villages?