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. 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 maintain a vested interest in their history and culture, and 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 – Romero; Juaneño Band of Mission Indians. These tribes are living communities that actively participate in the preservation of their culture and tribal resources, and the tribes are the authority on their cultural history.
At the time of Spanish contact, the village of Puvunga was a large and thriving community that encompassed a large area near Alamitos Bay. Early explorers and ethnographers described the village as being located two miles inland from Alamitos Bay on what later became Rancho Los Alamitos. While one of the recognized locations of the village of Puvunga is located within the CSULB campus, some Native American groups feel that it could possibly refer to a larger geographical area where tribes and bands moved around seasonally and over time.
According to Gabrielino mythology the being Ouiot or Wiyot ruled the people until he died and may have been the one to lead the people southward in their long migration “at the beginning of the world”. In one version of the legend, Wiyot is succeeded by an individual named Ouiamot who appeared at Puvunga. He was a lawgiver and god and taught the people to worship him as Chinigchinich. The Juañeno groups assigned their origin as the village of Sehat or Suva which was likely in the Gabrielino territory in the region of Los Nietos. The belief system based on the teachings of 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 Puvunga. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Lands Inventory. Puvunga itself also continues to hold significance for a number of tribal groups and is actively used for ceremonies and gatherings.