After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County and they want to keep it that way.
The Tongva community in L.A. has protested the relocation of a controversial L.A. County reservoir project on their ancestral lands since it began two decades ago.
The residents, who live between Beverly Hills and Studio City, said that the project would destroy their community’s history, culture and economy.
“Every Tongva family living around the reservoir already has a cemetery,” said Michael Johnson, who leads the Tongva Community Alliance.
“That cemetery is in South Korea and it’s only two and half miles from the reservoir. The reservoir is only 20 miles from our community,” Johnson said.
Members of the Tongva People’s Caucus
The Tongva People’s Caucus, which is composed of the five Tongva communities around the Hollywood Reservoir, has been protesting the project since 2004.
The California Department of Fish and Game said the reservoir project is safe and a good project.
Residents, who are mostly Latino and Korean and are opposed to the reservoir project because of their belief that the reservoir would change the character of the Tongva community, are being met with resistance with public meetings and petitions.
A Tongva family in Los Angeles
But despite protests and petitions, the reservoir has continued to move forward.
The project is seeking approval from the California Department of Public Health to move forward and include the reservoir on the list of LA County projects that have received a presidential permit.
“My community has been fighting for three decades for our land to remain in the community,” said Janna Lee, a Tongva resident who also leads the Tongva People’s Caucus.
“This is a project that is important for all communities. We have a right to protect our land,” Lee said.
The reservoir project is also part of California’s Water Fix Program, designed to reduce the state’s water use and increase the flow to the water treatment plant.
The reservoir has been proposed for L.A. County since 1970.
The reservoir would serve about 100,000 people by providing water for residents in the Los Angeles Basin and for agriculture. The reservoir area is considered critical for the community’s agricultural and tourism economy.
The reservoirs is expected to supply water for agriculture and