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“Tongva women never left their ancestral land, they just became invisible. How do we make ourselves not invisible? This is the question I ask every day.”

Julia Bogany, Tongva Elder




12400 Big Tujunga Canyon Road, Tujunga, CA 91042

How can we honor, celebrate, uplift, and learn from our Indigenous Peoples? How can we, collectively, nurture the healing of devastating wounds caused by centuries of colonialism, land and cultural loss, and the erasure/invisibility of Indigenous Peoples? Tuxuunga, the “Place of the Old Woman”, of the beautiful un-ceded land of the Tongva, once again commits to reaffirming Indigenous Peoples, their culture, contributions, relationship to the land, and visionary leadership.


This year our celebration of Indigenous Peoples will take place again at the MRCA site in Big Tujunga at 12400 Big Tujunga Canyon Road, Tujunga, CA 91042. The event is been organized by ST Forward and ABRA with special guidance from Indigenous culture bearer and advisors Tina Calderon Lazaro Arvizu Jr and support from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). 


This cultural, educational, and community-centered celebration will be organized and shaped by the following key values: 

  • Respect for the land

  • A focus on reciprocity

  • Gift-giving approach

  • Relational educational opportunities

  • Cultural diversity

  • Generative dialogue


Presenters and Workshop Facilitators

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Tina Orduno Calderon is a Culture Bearer for her family; the descendants of Komiikranga of the Santa Monica mountains which is shared territory for the Chumash and Tongva. Tina is wife, mother, grandmother, sister and auntie to many.
Tina is a singer who also enjoys creative writing and composing poems and songs. To date she has composed over a dozen songs in her ancestral languages of Tongvé and Chumash.
Additionally, Tina is a traditional dancer and storyteller who strongly believes in honoring her ancestors by sharing their history, educating others about Indigenous truths and inspiring others to respect the land, waters, sacred elements and environment.



Singer, songwriter, emcee (rapper), poet, and published author Jessa Calderon is of the Chumash and Tongva Nations of Southern California. Jessa also identifies with her Yoeme and Mexican roots. Jessa is a natural born singer who truly found her voice in hip-hop. As an emcee, poet and published author, Jessa is able to share her culture and truth in a way that keeps the crowds intrigued. Not only does Jessa bring pictures to life through the minds’ eye with her writing, she also brings her listeners enlightenment and healing. Since 2019 Jessa has joined the Dream Warriors collective with Tanaya Winder, Frank Waln, Lyla June, Tall Paul, Mic Jordan and Gunner Jules. Together they share, music, culture, stories, poems, seminars, workshops, webinars which equates to healing as a community.


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Ted Garcia Jr. and his younger brother Dennis Garcia

(Tataviam/Chumash/Serrano) teach about traditional lifeways through song and storytelling. Enrolled with the Fernandeño-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Ted and Dennis Garcia trace their ancestry to individuals who lived at Chaguayabit village (today’s Castaic Junction) and elsewhere in the greater Santa Clarita Valley, southern Antelope Valley and San Fernando Valley at the time of European contact in 1769 and for a thousand years before that.

Ted Garcia, a spiritual advisor to the annual Hart of the West Powwow at William S. Hart Park in Newhall, is also an accomplished stone carver.  Dennis Garcia is a traditional native dancer who gives presentations at L.A. area schools, The Autry, Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center in Newbury Park and elsewhere.




Virginia Carmelo was born in Orange County, California. Her paternal side is Gabrielino/Tongva and Digueno/Kumeyaay tribes. Virginia received her B.A. from CSU, Fullerton, in Ethnic Studies. During that time, being influenced by and involved in the social movements of the sixties, she began dance studies that led her to study indigenous dance with two prominent masters in the Los Angeles area. Currently, they take part in preserving and sharing the Tongva culture. The family endeavors to revitalizeTongva tribal song, dance, and regalia.

Today, the group “Toveema” can be seen performing both ancient and modern tribal song and dance at many prominent venues throughout Southern California. They take pride in the making of all regalia and instruments, using natural indigenous materials.



Lazaro Arvizu Jr. is an artist, educator, musician, and researcher dedicated to the culture of the first people of Los Angeles. Born in the Los Angeles Basin, he is knowledgeable of the landscape and cosmology of the Gabrieleno culture. He has worked for over 20 years facilitating creative and meaningful cultural experiences to people of all ages and walks of life, in many venues.



is an American actress descending on her mother’s side from Tongva and Kumeyaay Native Americans of Southern California. She grew up performing in a Native American dance troupe led by her mother, Virginia Carmelo. Her father is a Latin musician. Tonantzin Carmelo is a traditional Aztec dancer and pre-Columbian musician, and has recorded three albums with Canyon Records. She sings lead and back up vocals with the band Trio Del Alma.


Carmelo honed her acting craft in a myriad of professional theater productions, and is a member of the LA based professional theater company Native Voices, most recently as Lisa Yellowtree in the world premiere production of Carbon Black. Tonantzin Carmelo is a multifaceted American actress playing lead and supporting roles in movies, television series, documentaries, video games, and theater. Her break-out performance in Steven Spielberg's, Into the West, earned her several awards and nominations, including a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Television Movie or Miniseries. Recently, she filmed prime roles in Spain and Australia for the television series The English (BBC) and La Brea (NBC). 




KUYRA  are a 2-piece Indigenous electro folk band from Los Angeles, USA. Multi instrumentalist and music producer Eric Santiestevan met singer-songwriter Andrea Serrato, while wandering the internet highways during the pandemic down time of 2020. They soon discovered they were both interested in reconnecting to Indigenous heritage and ancestral knowledge via music. They bonded over improvisational jams, grooving to tunes by Nicola Cruz, Chancha via Circuito, Quantic and others, and talking about mycology, animism, and altermundos.  Together, by listening, thinking, reading, revising, and deferring to the music itself, Andrea and Eric cultivated a synergic sound greater than the sum of its parts: KUYRA.  


KUYRA’s unique brand of entertainment combines Indigenous instruments and rhythms with electronic drones and beats, and impassioned vocals crooned, belted, and whispered in Spanish, Purépecha, and Rarámuri ra'icha.  KUYRA will make you want to dance while imagining a better world.




Meztli Projects is an Indigenous based arts & culture collaborative centering Indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles by using arts-based strategies to support, advocate for, and organize to highlight Native and Indigenous Artists and systems-impacted youth. 

Meztli Projects operates out of Apachianga (East Los Angeles) in Tovaangar (Los Angeles County), lands stewarded since time immemorial by families and villages now known as the Acjachemen, Chumash, Tataviam and Tongva Tribal Nations.



Jess Gudiel is an LA artist rooted in their practice in horticulture, shadow art and puppetry. Gudiel has worked in local schools and art centers for over ten years sharing knowledge of sustainable organic growing while also using shadow art to bring light to youth’s creative expression of their interaction with local ecosystems.

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Raised in Boyle Heights, Chef Louie's journey is deeply rooted in his Navajo and Apache heritage. His grandmother (age 103) is a living repository of Navajo tradition and boarding school stories, and has been a guiding light in his life. Inspired by his grandmother's resilience, Chef Louie, along with his son, embarked on a culinary journey by attending culinary school. Through his passion for food, he keeps his family's heritage close to his heart. Despite never venturing beyond the borders of the United States, Louie is a champion for refugees and asylum seekers, understanding the displacement they face from their indigenous lands.

Chef Louie's journey is a testament to the power of heritage, family, and resilience. His story is one of cultural preservation, empathy, and using one's platform to make a positive impact on the world.



Xiomara Durán is a Sunland-Tujunga Forward Board Member and works as a Community Forestry Coordinator for urban greening projects in the San Fernando Valley. She loves volunteering especially when it helps to address climate change and environmental justice. She is mixed with European and Pipil (El Salvador) heritage.


Resource Booths and Vendors

Angel Mulul Guatemalan Crafts
Arroyo Foothills Conservancy
Big Lou's BBQ
El Sereno Community Land Trust
Metzli Projects
Rincon Oaxaqueño
Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural and Bookstore


Funders and Supporters

This event would not be possible without the generous support of many individuals and organizations, including the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. This event's workshops are funded in part by the CA Creative Corps, which is generously supported by the California Arts Council and administered by Community Partners.


Event Program

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