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Cara Romero, “Spirits of Siwavaats” (2019) (courtesy of Cara Romero)

Before it was LA, or even El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula, the Los Angeles basin was home to Tongva, Chumash, and other Indigenous peoples. And it still is, despite centuries of violence, resettlement, and repression of Native Americans. Now in its second year, Indigenous Now is a four-hour program that pays tribute to the area’s first inhabitants while celebrating their contemporary creative expressions.

The event is based around the concept of Kuuyam, the Tongva word for “guest,” and explores the relationship between Tongva hosts and visitors who are guests on their land. After an opening blessing, visitors are invited to wander through Tongva Park, where they will encounter art installations and a series of performances that will repeat throughout the day. Participants include Indigenous contemporary dance troupe Dancing Earth, singer-songwriter Kelly Caballero, hip-hop artist Jessa Calderon, iconic Tongva/Ajachmem artist and activist L. Frank, and photographer Cara Romero, whose photographic billboards were recently featured in Desert X.

Indigenous Now is focused on bringing visibility and allowing mainstream LA to engage with the Indigenous community, to recognize that we have modern lives and urban experiences,” Romero recently told Hyperallergic. “That we’re here, we’re alive.”

When: Saturday, May 11, 12–4pm
Where: Tongva Park (1615 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, California)

More info at Santa Monica Cultural Affairs.

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Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he is a frequent contributor to Daily Serving, and Glasstire.