The History of Puvungna

Puvungna (alternate spelling: Puvunga) is an ancient village and burial site believed to have once been populated by the Tongva (Gabrielino) people, who are the indigenous inhabitants of the region around Los Angeles, California. The site is located on the campus of present day California State University, Long Beach along the banks of a now channelized creek, about three miles from the Pacific Ocean. Believed to be the birthplace of Chingishnish, a Tongva prophet, Puvunga is considered sacred by some indigenous people. It is also believed by some Tongva to be the place of creation.

A portion of the site (which is unmarked with a sign or other informational marker) comprises a natural area located at the edge of campus, near a parking lot. At one time this site had a natural spring, and the location is sometimes referred to as Puvunga Spring. Another similar (but larger) Tongva site is Kuruvungna Springs on the grounds of University High School in Los Angeles.

Since the 1960s the Tongva people have sought to preserve the Puvunga site from development, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 [1]. However, the university has challenged this designation, claiming they were not consulted when the application was filed. In 1992, when the university began its first attempts to build a strip mall on this last undeveloped portion of the campus, the Tongva people initiated protests and filed a lawsuit which have temporarily stalled any construction. The site remains as an undeveloped grassy area, with a few trees.

Ethnohistoric evidence clearly identifies Puvungna with Rancho Los Alamitos, a portion of which became the Cal State Long Beach campus. More than a dozen archaeological sites spread over an area of about 500 acres on and near the campus have been identified as Puvungna village sites. Most of these have been destroyed by development.

In 1972, campus workmen uncovered portions of an Indian burial on one of these sites, LAn-235, located on the western edge of campus. These remains were placed in CSULB’s archaeology lab. A few years later, LAn-235 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places to “represent” Puvungna “as a means of perpetuating the memory of these native peoples and their religion, and as an aid to the program of public education.” Two other sites were included in the National Register: the adjacent LAn-234 and LAn-306, located just east of campus on the grounds of the historic Rancho Los Alamitos.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puvunga

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