CONFIRMED! Tongva Poet Kelly Caballero will be a presenter at our upcoming Sunland-Tujunga Indigenous Peoples Day! Read about this amazing poet below and lend a hand to make this event happen! Help us raise an additional $1500 in the coming 3 weeks to offer food and honoraria to our Indigenous presenters:


Kelly Caballero [Gabrielino Tongva, Chicana] is a poet and songwriter. Her work lends voice to the critical and important conversation of California’s First People in relation to place and belonging, offering a lens through the poetics of her life as a California Native woman. Performance, hosting workshops, participating in panels and keynotes are some ways in which Kelly shares her writing and works to educate people on intersecting identities and the history, lives and current achievements of California Native peoples. ​

"My writing, my voice, is only a vessel for the Spirit of this place to say what needs to be said. As for my own lived experience, I am tethered to and am only continuing a story that has been writing itself for thousands of years." - Kelly Caballero

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Updated: Aug 29

ST Forward is thrilled to announce that Tongva elder Virginia Carmelo will be a presenter at our second annual Sunland Tujunga Indigenous Peoples Day on October 9th. It will be an honor to host her under the oaks of Big Tujunga, and we can't wait to learn more with her. Read more about this local Indigenous leader below.

Virginia Carmelo was born in Orange County, California and raised in Fullerton, California. Her paternal side is California Native American: Gabrielino/Tongva (Pronounced Tong–vey) 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.

Virginia was teacher to five of her 6 children for a 5-year stint of home schooling. Currently, they take part in preserving and sharing the Tongva culture. The family endeavors to revitalize Tongva 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.

In 2004, Virginia was led to research the Tongva language. A portion of the tribal language was recorded during the early 1900’s and last spoken around 1930. Thanks to linguist, Pam Munro and language programs, this California Indian language is being spoken again after 80 years being silent.

From 2001 to 2012, Virginia served as a Tribal Council Member of the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, the tribe indigenous to the entire Los Angeles Basin. From 2005 to 2010, she served as Tribal Chairperson.

Help us fund an honorarium for all Indigenous presenters by contributing to our event fundraising campaign. And thank you!!

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ST Forward is honored to be one of the organizers of our community's second annual Indigenous Peoples Day. The event will take place in Big Tujunga on Sunday, October 9th, 12-3pm. Save the day and join us for a beautiful afternoon of learning, cultural celebration, and honoring of Indigenous Peoples. We are thankful to Lazaro Arvizu, Tongva-Gabrieleno culture bearer, for his key role as event advisor.

Here are some ways to help make this event a community success:

- Help us spread the word! Invite your friends and family and join us on October 9th

- Volunteer! Let us know if you are available to help by completing this short form.

- Help us reach our fundraising goal. The majority of the funds will go towards honoraria for all the Indigenous presenters and culture bearers who will be joining us that day. No amount is too small. Thank you for your contributions! Link to the fundraising campaign

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