City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell is seeking to create an official land acknowledgment policy for Los Angeles, introducing a motion Friday seeking to increase visibility with native and indigenous communities.
O’Farrell, the first Native American to serve on the council, called for the first council and commission meetings of each month to begin with an acknowledgment of indigenous and tribal nations. In a statement, O’Farrell noted that City Hall itself sits on Indigenous land.
“We cannot secure a better future for ourselves without first acknowledging the truth of our past,” O’Farrell said. “An official land acknowledgment policy, regularly recognizing the true history of the Los Angeles region and its ancestors, will be another major step forward in our movement to give greater voice to Native American and Indigenous issues, history, and people.”
O’Farrell’s motion calls for the city’s civil and human rights department to collaborate with the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission and representatives from the Tongva, Tataviam and Chumash tribes to report within 30 days on creating a land acknowledgment policy. The motion noted that any acknowledgment should be informed by local tribes and indigenous communities.
“Full equity for Native Americans and Indigenous people starts with acknowledging the Indigenous land on which we stand,” said Rudy Ortega Jr., Fernandeño Tataviam tribal president. “Though our voices have been silenced in the past, an official land acknowledgment policy by the city of Los Angeles will ensure our voices are always heard well into the future.”
The city issued a formal apology last year to all native tribal nations that were hurt by the city’s past actions. In 2017, Los Angeles replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
O’Farrell’s motion, seconded by Councilman Paul Koretz, described Los Angeles as a city with residents hailing from “the world over, including tribal indigenous leaders.”
“Long before Los Angeles City Hall was built, the Tongva village of Yaanga stood on the same spot,” said Chief Anthony Morales of the Gabrieleno Tongva Band of Mission Indians. “An official land acknowledgment policy will be a beautiful and ever-present reminder that, not only were Native Americans the original inhabitants of this land; we are still here, we belong, and we will help shape the future of Los Angeles.”