Land in L.A. returned to tribe through Indigenous charter school and organizations

The 12 acres purchased for Chief Ya’anna Learning Village marks the largest return to date of Indigenous land to a tribal nation in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (September 22, 2023) — The Anawakalmekak International University Preparatory of North America and Tzicatl Community Development Corporation today celebrated the return of 12 acres of land to the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California, the land’s original stewards.

The return marks the largest ever land-back acquisition in the city of Los Angeles.

“Today’s return is an important victory for returning land stolen from Indigenous peoples,”

said Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director of Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America (AIUP). “Twelve acres is but a small piece of a city that spreads across 321,000 acres, and yet, today is an important step in the Land Back movement.”

The land will be the site of the Chief Ya’anna Learning Village, a center for students and the community to learn about Native ecosystem restoration, climate mitigation and the process of decolonization.

The return of the land was marked at a ceremony today at the future site of the Learning Village.

That site will now be held by the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California, who will make it available for the Learning Village.

Its purchase was made possible by the California Endowment, NDN Collective LANDBACK Fund, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Metabolic Studio and TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, Anawakalmekak and Tzicatl Community Development Corporation.

“Through both the material acquisition of land and the practice of learning language and culture, AIUP is building and supporting communities of autonomy for intertribal Indigenous people, youth, and families, locally and internationally,” said Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective. “We hope that this moment serves as a call to action to return land to Indigenous hands, and as an inspiration to other Indigenous people and communities.”

During the event, California State Assemblymember Wendy Carillo issued Certificates of Appreciation to honor those who made possible the Land Back return.

Additional speakers included Nicholas Rocha, chair of the Gabrielino-Shoshone Tribal Council of Southern California; Dr. Bob Ross, CEO of the California Endowment; Josue Rivas on behalf of the NDN Collective; Milli Macene-Moore of Metabolic Studio; representatives from the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles Dept. of Public Works; and Marcos Aguilar and Minnie Ferguson of Anawakalmekak.

The day closed with a community dialogue led and moderated by tribal council and youth leaders from the Anawakalmekak Academy.