Theft at Cal State Long Beach University sacred grounds

From CSULB 49er: Thieves removed a ten-foot cross adorned with antlers from Puvungna sacred grounds on June 14.

Most people on the LBSU campus are unaware of the spiritual significance that the 22-acre field holds for Southern California Native Americans. “The whole university is sacred,” Juaneño tribal leader Rebecca Robles explained. “Only the 22 acres are left untouched.” Puvungna was established in A.D. 500. For the Southern California tribes, “Puvungna is where the world started.”

“Puvungna means a gathering place,” Native American Heritage Commission Executive Secretary Larry Myers, “It’s there for anyone who wants to honor the site.”

The Southern California tribes in this area believe in one god named Chinigchinich. His creation story is celebrated at Puvungna. The story of Chinigchinich is 7,000 years old. According to legend, humans came from clay, molded by Chinigchinich.

The 22-acre field was declared sacred in 1974 for several reasons. First, it is where the creation story originated. Second, different tribes use the land to commemorate their ancestors. Third, “the site is considered to be integral to the tribe’s continued existence as a people,” referring to the heritage commission’s definition.

The site is also a burial ground with 21 buried ancestors. To honor them and others, there are three ancestor poles currently in place at the 22-acre field near parking lot 20.

They are decorated with items such as feathers, shells, beads, pictures, cloth and painted rocks.

According to, Tongva member and elder Lillian Robles said that their ancestors walk spiritually beside them and that they give them strength when they need it.

Every October, several tribes honor their ancestors by traveling to different Native American villages from San Clemente to CSULB during the annual Ancestor Walk.

In 1993, the university attempted to build a strip mall on the 22-acre field, but they suspended their efforts when the Tongva people filed a lawsuit, protesting the development.

Previous President Robert Maxson and current President F. King Alexander vowed not to develop on the 22-acre field.

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