While Native American Heritage Month isn’t until November, lots of the events and activities celebrating this rich culture take place all fall long. Los Angeles was once home to the Tongva, Chumash and many other tribes, so we have loads of museums and cultural centers that teach history, awareness and arts. Take your tots to see and experience how native California peoples lived and worked long ago.
Life Before Columbus Festival
Did you know that there are natural underground springs bubbling up right in the heart of West Los Angeles? The two Kuruvungna Springs, located in the University High School campus, were long a gathering place for indigenous peoples, and this festival revives the tradition of meeting at this sacred place. The Life Before Columbus Festival, hosted by the Gabrielino-Tongva people at the Kuruvungna Springs Cultural Center & Museum, is a blast for kids as it features native dances, music, storytelling, crafts and displays of historic artifacts (including some recovered during various construction projects at the school). The festival is Oct. 12 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Good to know: You can visit the museum on the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
1439 S Barrington Ave.
Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center
Haramokngna means “the place where people gather,” and it is a spot where the local American Indian community can gather to respect the natural environment and share the history of the first Native American people of the Angeles National Forest. Both the Visitor Center and the Toypurina Lodge house local native history and art. The mission here is beautiful – to have a place “where the Indian People relocated from their lands can once again touch the earth, feel the wind, listen for the sound of our wild brothers and sisters — the animals and birds — and smell the fragrance of native plants.” And they welcome all kids and their grownups to experience this connection to the land. The Center offers arts and crafts days for kids and is open seasonally Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., and weekdays by appointment.
Good to know: Call before visiting!
Red Box, Forest Route 2N24
American Indian Arts Marketplace at the Autry
Head on down to the largest Native American arts fair in Southern California, featuring 200 artists representing more than 40 tribes. Grab the kids by the hand and check out sculptures, pottery, bead work, basketry, photography, paintings, jewelry, textiles, wooden carvings, and more. And it’s all for sale. While the focus is definitely on crafts, you’ll still be able to see dance performances throughout the day. Whatever you do, don’t miss the Indian Country storytelling events. Grab a bite to eat and settle in for magnificent stories told by tribal elders. The Marketplace takes place Nov. 8 & 9 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $12/adults, $4/kids (3–12).
Good to know: Every second Tuesday of the month is free admission at the Autry. Come one come all, where you can always explore the exhibitions that illuminate the history of Los Angeles and the Native American people who lived here.
4700 Western Heritage Way
photo credit: Jennifer Wolfe
Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center and Natural Area
A collaboration between the National Park Service and the Friends of Satwiwa, this facility is always a great resource for learning about the Chumash and Gabrielino-Tongva cultures native to Southern California. Inside the visitors’ center, located just north of Point Mugu State Park, you can see arrowheads, historic photographs and other artifacts; outdoors there’s a “Chumash Demonstration Village” where your kids can learn what life was like in pre-Columbian SoCal. Nearby trails include the Satwiwa Loop Trail (which circles past a neat old windmill) and a path to a waterfall located within adjacent Boney Mountain State Wilderness. The Center often offers cultural storytelling and crafting events for the whole family. Check the website for upcoming events. Admission is free and the center is open Saturdays and Sunday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
4122 West Potrero Rd, Newbury Park
Phone: (805) 370-2301
photo credit: Rvanbree via Creative Commons
19th Annual Chumash Inter Tribal Council
Head on up the coast for the grand daddy of all Powwows. Join tribes from around the state as they compete in one of the largest singing and dancing competitions around. This is your best bet for getting a great taste of real, honest to goodness, tribal dance and song. Remember, you’re never just a guest at a Powwow, you’re family. So, join in a share in the fun with basket weaving demonstrations, drum circles, pottery painting and more. The Powwow takes place on Oct. 4 & 5. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Live Oak Campground
4600 Highway 154
Santa Barbara, CA
How do you plan on celebrating Native American culture during the month of November?