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“People of the Earth: Life and Culture of the Tongva” Exhibit to Open Soon: Santa Monica History Museum Announces New Exhibit of the Indigenous People of Santa Monica Bay and Greater Los Angeles

The Santa Monica History Museum is excited to announce it will display an exhibition on the indigenous people of the Santa Monica Bay and greater Los Angeles from Friday, February 9, 2018, to Saturday, May 5, 2018, at the Santa Monica History Museum at 1350 7 th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Beginning Friday, February 9, the Santa Monica History Museum will host an exhibit exploring the history and cultural influence of the Tongva people, the original residents of the Santa Monica Bay area who have lived in the area for about 7,000 years. The exhibit, PEOPLE OF THE EARTH: Life and Culture of the Tongva, will display artifacts from everyday life ranging from musical instruments to fishing nets woven from milkweed fiber.

Tongva means “People of the Earth” in the Shoshonean language. Tongva are also known as Gabrielino, due to their forced migration to San Gabriel Mission. Their vibrant hunter-gatherer culture included arts, religion, an organized society, and a wealthy trading economy. As one of the richest and most culturally sophisticated societies in California, their influence extended well beyond their borders. Gabrielino shells and soapstone have been found in service among people as far away as the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.

Exhibit topics will include community and social structure, use of plants (for food, medicine, tools, and musical instruments), methods for building huts and canoes, and profiles of significant figures such as Toypurina and the Water Woman. The exhibit will also cover the disruption of life due to the forced move to the San Gabriel Mission, the presence of indigenous people in contemporary times, and ongoing efforts to bring awareness to the local native population.

The museum, and this exhibit, are open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays noon to 8:00 PM, and Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The museum is closed Sundays and Mondays. General admission for adults is $10.00 and $5.00 for seniors & students. Veterans, active-duty military, children 12 and under, and Santa Monica History Museum members receive free admission. Please direct questions to John Klopping, Museum Manager, at (310) 395-2290 or info@santamonicahistory.org.

Tongva pine needle basket.
Credit: Santa Monica History Museum, Julia Bogany Collection
View of Santa Monica Bay and the Malibu Coastline.
Credit: Santa Monica History Museum, Outlook Collection
Tongva onion brush.
Credit: Santa Monica History Museum, Julia Bogany Collection
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