California Native American Commission investigates CSU-Long Beach’s treatment of sacred land

The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) is investigating the dumping of construction debris and earth on Puvungna, a Native American sacred site located on the campus of California State University-Long Beach (CSULB).

A prayer circle in Puvungna.Photo by Erin FoleyThe purpose of the investigation is to “determine whether the dumping of construction debris and earth on Puvungna interferes with the free expression or exercise of Native American religion or may cause serious and irreparable damage to a cemetery, place of worship. sanctified Native American, religious or ceremonial site, or sacred chandelier located on public property, ”states a letter of notice from NAHC to university.

According to the letter, the 22-acre parcel of land is the Acjachemen Nation’s “largest undeveloped sacred parcel of land” in the Juaneño Band in southern California. It is of religious, cultural, and historical significance to several tribal nations and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Sacred Lands Inventory of the California Native American Heritage Commission.

The CSULB dumped soil and debris on the ground in 2019 and is currently in litigation settlement negotiations with several tribal nations as well as the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance.

The NAHC indicates that a public hearing will be held at a later date, after which “the NAHC will recommend mitigation measures to the CSULB and may seek an injunction for the protection of Native American cultural resources under its jurisdiction.”

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