chapter 1

chapter 1

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  • Once, there was a tribe of people called the Tongva, who made their home in what is now the Los Angeles Basin in Southern California.
  • They lived in the region for at least 7,000 years, living a peaceful life complete with self-subsistence, skilled labor, trade, and deep culture.
  • Well, my people did live a peaceful life, until the arrival of the Spanish in 1769.
  • Hello, we are from Spain and want to set up churches on this land.
  • Yeah, no. We're settling here.
  • No thanks. We already have our own faith so here's some supplies for your journey.
  • Good. That's what I thought.
  • Okay, you can stay for a while. I guess.
  • So, the Spanish soldiers and missionaries stayed. Although there was some fighting, what's most important is how the Tongva way of life was altered.
  • criollos, castas, indios, etc. 
  • We need everyone to separate into different categories.
  • Yep. Corporal punishment. 
  • Do you mean, corporal punishment? 
  • If you guys don't follow orders, you'll pay the price. 
  • These patterns of punishment and subjugation persisted until the War of Mexican independence that ended Spanish colonial rule in 1821.
  • We're in charge now. If any of you misbehave or are unemployed, we will arrest you and sentence you to labor.
  • We will also be putting you in prison!
  • Not again. 
  • These habits continued even after the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, when Anglo-Americans took over.
  • Hello. My people and I were predestined to settle on this land.
  • Yeah...we don't really care. 
  • But this is our land. We were here first.
  • This is our new jail, which is the only publicly owned building in Los Angeles. Anyone who breaks our laws will be put in it.
  • We need to enhance vagrancy laws to get more Natives in jail.
  • Great idea boss. We'll get them with public order charges.
  • From then on, violence against Natives persisted, and so did incarceration.
  • But unfortunately, this was only the beginning of incarceration and settler colonialism in the city of Los Angeles.
  • By the end of the 1870s, disease, violence, expulsion, and imprisonment had devastated my people and led to a 97% population decline.

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