There is a rich history of indigenous people living on this land long before the city became synonymous with sunshine and movie stars. Today, Los Angeles is still home to more than 50,000 Native Americans. This past summer, LA city council announced it will now recognize Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. In honor of the new holiday (observed this year on October 9 and ongoing every second Monday in October), we looked for local ways to experience and enjoy native culture. Scroll down to see our favorite ways to celebrate this wonderful new holiday!
Life Before Columbus Festival
Los Angeles was once home to the Tongva (yep, that’s where that awesome park with the splash pad in Santa Monica got its name!) people and they considered the Kuruvungna Springs, located on the University High School campus, a sacred meeting place. It is with that spirit and tradition that the Gabrielino-Tongva people host the annual Life Before Columbus Festival at the Kuruvungna Springs Cultural Center & Museum, which features Tongva and Aztec dancers, SoCal Bird Singers, basket & jewelry making, and native games & toys. Parents and little ones have a blast during this day of family fun and celebration.
The festival is on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Native American food is available and both admission and parking are free.
Good to know: The Cultural Center and Museum are open the first Saturday of each month. The museum preserves a collection of artifacts uncovered during renovations made at University High School over the years.
Gabrielino/Tongva Springs Foundation
1439 S Barrington Ave.
photo: Porfirio Gutiérrez
Indigo Dye Workshop for Families @ LACMA
Has your child already requested a tie-dye kit for the holidays? If so, head over to Andell Family Sundays: where Master Weaver, Porfirio Gutiérrez teaches an Indigo dyeing workshop at LACMA. Gutiérrez descends from a family of weavers in the Zapotec tradition who reside in a small village in Oaxaca, Mexico called Teotitlán del Valle. During the workshop, Gutiérrez provides a brief history of the textile arts and culture native to his village, while also teaching the dyeing process. Space is extremely limited, and unfortunately, reservations aren’t accepted, so come early to get your spot.
The workshop is on Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. and parents must accompany children.
Good to know: Through the NexGen program, LACMA offers free admission to children from birth up until their 18th birthday. Signing up is a cinch and the pass also admits one adult for free per visit.
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration
The UCLA Department of American Indian Studies is hosting an event to celebrate the city officials and community leaders who worked tirelessly to establish Indigenous Peoples Day here in LA. This free event is open to the public and families are encouraged to attend. Guests have the option to visit the Fowler Museum exhibits during the event.
The celebration is on Oct. 9 from 5-7 p.m. RSVP online if you plan to attend.
The Elizabeth and W. Thomas Courtyard @ the Fowler Museum
308 Charles E Young Dr N
photo: AmigoNonProfitFilms via Facebook
San Manuel Indian PowWow
At this annual PowWow, currently, in its 22nd year, the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians host a festival that includes competitive dancing, traditional cuisine and arts & crafts. As with any PowWow, native and non-native people join together in celebration of and respect for indigenous people. This PowWow boasts some of most distinguished drummers in the country. Kiddos can’t stop the feeling as they dance along with tribal members of every age.
This free event is Oct. 13-15.
Good to know: Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. On Friday the Grand Entry parade is at 8 p.m., on Saturday is is at 1 & 8 p.m. and on Sunday it is at 1 p.m.
Cal State San Bernardino
5500 University Pkwy
San Fernando Festival – Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration
In 2015, San Fernando became the first city in SoCal to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. This gathering commemorates the lives and cultures of all native people across America. Families huddle closely for traditional storytelling which represents one of the most significant rituals in Native American culture. Children are both entertained and educated as elders share fascinating tales through this wonderful oral tradition. Along with games, workshops, educational booths and interactive stations, there’s something for everybody.
The festival is free and takes place on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Good to know: This festival features music by indigenous performers in different genres, such as hip-hop, blues and bird singers.
San Fernando Recreation Park
208 Park Ave.
Southern California Indian Center PowWow & Cultural Festival
This legendary PowWow includes two full days of family fun and traditional festivities found at inter-tribal gatherings. But the best attraction here is the spirit of giving to others. Everyone is encouraged to bring unwrapped toys and canned food items to donate.
The SCIC PowWow runs November 4 & 5, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $5, $3 for teens, and free for the under 13 crowd.
OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Dr.
photos: The Autry Museum
American Indian Arts Marketplace
This Native arts fair is the largest of its kind in SoCal and features hundreds of Native American artists from more than 40 different tribes. Artists from across the country converge to bring you sculpture, pottery, beadwork and paintings. There are children’s activities, demonstrations, and performances during the fair and no shortage of amusement. Definitely grab some of Auntie’s Fry Bread; it’s some of the best you’ll ever taste!
American Indian Arts Marketplace is November 11 & 12 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $6 for children. Kids under 3 are free.
Good to know: Parking is free at 4700 Western Heritage Way, directly in front of the Autry. However, due to the demand for this event, organizers suggest ride sharing—we prefer getting there super early with the kids.
The Autry Museum
4700 Western Heritage Way
How do you celebrate and honor the first LA inhabitants? Let us know in the comments below!