On November 15, 2018 Tribal President Rudy Ortega Jr. and Executive Advisor Pamela Villaseñor present presented to the Cultural Heritage Commission of City of Los Angeles on the importance of renaming the “Old Mission Trail” to a culturally sensitive name.
The Tribe submitted a letter in support of the nomination of the trail as a historic-cultural monument (CEQA: ENV-2018-4618-CE), but requested that the name be changed.
The Tribe requested that the trail be renamed to “Apeta Momonga” which translates to Trail to Chatsworth in place of “Old Mission Trail” in an effort to remove the word Mission from its title.
“We want to acknowledge history, but by starting with native history; our ancestors, who preceded the Mission. Let us honor them through placenaming,” said President Ortega Jr..
The Tribe’s presentation centered on the importance of recognizing the pre-settler significance of places through culturally-sensitive names. When the Tribe was asked why this renaming was so important to its people when the trail was simply used to transport goods, Pamela Villaseñor, Executive Advisor, quickly came to their correction:
“We do acknowledge that the route was used by the missionaries, the Spanish, and the Catholics, but the transportation, the goods, were a transportation of slaves. It was a Slave Route. That’s how it was used by the Spanish. It wasn’t a sightseeing route. It was the brute force of family removal and children’s kidnapping and the continuing need for Indian bodies to work the Mission, because people only survived 6 years. This is fact. This is historical record.”
The Tribe was also questioned about attempting to remove Mission history from the trail.
“When you call it [places] something, you give it life, and without context. We are not Holocaust disbelievers of our Holocaust [the Genocide of California Indians]. We are asking for true historically accurate and culturally competent naming of places,” said Villaseñor.
A member of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council said, “The Missions were the spread of christianity – I don’t see it as a bad thing that the Missions came to California.”
Ultimately, the Commission voted to keep “Mission” in the name of the trail.
Listen to the audio recording of the meeting here: http://planning.lacity.org/InternetCalendar/pdf.aspx?Id=62377