This narrative is not a substitute for information provided directly from tribes who are the authority on their cultural history.
California State University, Long Beach is located on the traditional land of the indigenous tribe of the Gabrielino/Tongva/Kizh and Acjachemen/Juaneno. The terms Tongva, Kizh, and Acjachemen are preferred by many descendant groups over the Spanish words that have historically been used to describe them. Tribes that still reside in Los Angeles and Orange counties continue to maintain their history and culture. These tribes include five Gabrieleño (Tongva and Kizh) and three Juaneño-Acjachemen groups that are recognized by the state through the Native American Heritage Commission as California Native American tribes: Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians – Kizh Nation; Gabrielino Tongva Indians of California Tribal Council; Gabrieleno-Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians; Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe; Gabrielino/Tongva Nation; Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation – Belardes; Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation – Lucero; Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation - Acuna. These tribes are living communities that actively participate in the preservation of their culture and lifeways. The tribes are the authority on their cultural history.
At the time of Spanish contact, the village of Puvungna was a large and thriving community that encompassed a large area near Alamitos Bay. Tribal histories locate the village of Puvungna within the CSULB campus, and some Native American groups feel that Puvungna could possibly refer to a larger geographical area where tribes and bands moved around seasonally and over time.
According to Acjachemen/Luiseno/Gabrielino creation stories, the being Ouiot or Wiyot was the descendent of sky and earth. In one origin story, Wiyot is succeeded by an individual named Ouiamot who appeared at Puvungna. He was a lawgiver and god and taught the people to worship him as Chinigchinich. The belief system based on the teachings of Wiyot and Chinigchinich continues to be part of modern tribal spiritual and cultural practices.
A multi-acre site on the west side of the university campus is considered by many as the only undeveloped remnant of Puvungna. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Lands Inventory. Puvungna continues to hold significance for a number of tribal groups and is actively used for ceremonies and gatherings.