An Intro to the Land we Live on

A petition to change the name of Indian Hill Blvd, a large street that runs through Claremont, to Tongva Hill Blvd has been circulating over Claremont students Instagram’s this week. I encourage you to sign this petition as a sign of respect for the Indigenous people from whom this land was forcefully taken. Changing the names of things like streets and buildings is not where reparations and change can end, but it is a start. 

If you have not familiarized yourself with whose land you’re occupying, this week's blog post is for you! As a white, not indigenous person I am not the voice of this matter, but as a person farming and living on this land, this information is important to know. Names are important to know; words hold power, memory and reverence.

Prior to the Spanish colonization of Claremont in the early 1800’s, the area was called Torojoatngna and was (and is) inhabited and stewarded by Takic-speaking groups like the Gabrielino-Tongva and Serrano. Mt. Baldy was called Joat and thus Claremont was Torojoatngna, or the place below Joat. After Spanish colonization, Claremont was stolen/‘owned’ by Mexico and then the United States.

The parenthesis above are important to note; despite the pillaging and killing of Indigenous people, their land and their practices, Indigenous people still live here. Wrongfully, the Tongva are still not a federally recognized tribe, which makes self-governance, sovereignty and access to funding more difficult as well as leaves them landless. That being said, federal recognition/funding is not where reparations end, either. 

Because this is the farm blog, I thought I would write a bit about a few of the plants/foods native to this area. Prior to colonization, Tongva people hunted, gathered and traded rather than practicing horticulture. As past weeks blog posts have pointed out, the practice of horticulture as we know it often relies on growing almost exclusively non-native plants.

 Acorns were/are processed (to remove the tannic acid) and made into various products like flours and gruels. Both the pads and the fruits of prickly pear cacti were/are eaten. The fruit of yucca plants were/are eaten, and the leaves used for fiber. Native berries such as wild grapes, gooseberries, elderberries and toyon berries were/are eaten. Look at the attached pictures to see many of these foods growing here at the farm! If you look around, you will see them growing around Claremont, Mt. Baldy and the surrounding areas. 

This is only the briefest of an introduction to the land that we’re existing on and it’s important that anyone who hasn’t spent the time to learn about the land they live on to do so!