Araceli Argueta is a lifelong resident of the Los Angeles area, but she still doesn’t consider herself an L.A. native. At least, not in the traditional sense of the word. Why’s that? Argueta’s rationale is a pretty straightforward one. “I’m not part of a lineage of natives that has ancestral ties to this area,” she explained during a recent chat with KCRW. “So, although I am born and raised in Los Angeles, I would not call myself a native.”
Now, after having lived here most of her life she knows that other born-and-raised Angelenos like herself tend to use the term a bit more liberally than she does.
Argueta thinks that’s OK, though she still believes there’s value in understanding the origins of the place she, like so many of us, calls home. Which is mostly to say, to all those Angelenos who’ve been calling themselves “natives” but don’t identify as Native American: Argueta’s not judging you. But she still thinks it’s really important “for folks to hear about, you know, people that are actually native to this area.”
So, when she came across Curious Coast’s submission prompt — What is something you’ve always wanted to know about Los Angeles, the culture or the people who live here? — it got her thinking about history. More specifically, she wanted to know more about the region’s indigenous population, whose history, Argueta pointed out, “is not mentioned as often or talked about in mainstream media.”
So she submitted a question to Curious Coast — one which, she hopes, will pay homage to L.A.’s native communities, many of whom have been displaced by various iterations of colonization over the last several hundred years. She asked, “What native tribes’ lands are we on? Are there living descendants? What is their story?”
It was the latter half of our prompt that inspired Argueta to submit her question to us in the first place. “In thinking about the people that live here, I thought it would be important to honor the natives and indigenous peoples that were living in this area now known as Los Angeles,” she told KCRW, adding that it’d be a great opportunity to spotlight indigenous voices and learn more about their history, their stories, and how they’re doing now.
Curious Coast thought it’d be a great opportunity, too. That’s why we’re currently investigating the answer to Argueta’s great question and are looking forward to sharing our findings with all of you. Stay tuned for our coverage, coming soon!