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INDIGENOUS NOW! - Tongva Park Santa Monica, CA

  • Tongva park 1615 Ocean Avenue Santa Monica, CA, 90401 United States (map)

The second annual Indigenous Now offers a day of dance, music, spoken word and contemporary visual art by Indigenous artists based in Los Angeles, Santa Rosa and Santa Fe. The event draws on the theme of Kuuyam, the Tongva word for “guest,” promoting dialogue through a focus on the interdisciplinary nature of the relationship between Tongva hosts and their guests. The event welcomes all Indigenous peoples and all who wish to learn how to be a good guest on Indigenous land.

An opening blessing at noon launches the day, which will feature art installations and performances which repeat at intervals over the course of the four-hour event. Guests are invited to move through the park freely encountering each performance and installation at their own pace.

Participating artists include Dancing Earth, singer-songwriter Kelly Caballero (Tongva) and hip-hop recording artist Jessa Calderon (Tongva). A spectacular exhibition of artist Cara Romero’s (Chemehuevi) billboard-sized photographs will be on view at multiple locations throughout the park, fresh from the 2019 Desert X exhibition in Coachella Valley, and legendary artist L. Frank (Tongva) will exhibit a new sculptural installation commissioned especially for Indigenous Now.

Charles Sepulveda theorized the concept of Kuuyam as a decolonial possibility, which prompts the question of how we — as community members and guests to the area now called Santa Monica — can best ground ourselves as good relatives to the land, waters, and community that call this place home. The event brings together ideas and forms that uplift indigenous voices often erased or unheard in the cacophony of settler colonization.

The producers acknowledge the Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar(Los Angeles basin, Southern Channel Islands) and are grateful to have the opportunity to work for the taraaxatom (indigenous peoples) in this place. We pay our respects to Honuukvetam(Ancestors), 'Ahiihirom (Elders), and 'eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging. Further, we acknowledge that there a number of names for groups of Indigenous peoples of this area, including Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, the Gabrielino/Tongva Tribe, the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians, Kizh and others.

The program is a collaboration with the Indigenous Now Advisory and Curatorial Committee, Angela Mooney D’Arcy (Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation), Clementine Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota Oyate), Lazaro Arvizu (Tongva), and Eve-Lauryn LaFountain (Turtle Mountain Chippewa).


Dancing Earth inspires creativity and cultural consciousness through community art practice, energetic dance training workshops, site specific rituals and full-length eco-productions. Performers: Snowflake  Towers(Yaqui/Tzeltal), Natalie Benally (Dine/Zuni/Ute) and Dakota Camacho(Matao/Chamoru). They were named by Dance Magazine as “One of the Top 25 to Watch” and are recipients of the National Museum of American Indian’s Expressive Arts Award.

L. Frank is a Tongva-Ajachmem artist, writer, tribal scholar, cartoonist, and Indigenous language activist. A resident of Santa Rosa, CA, she has won awards from the American Association of University Women, the James Irvine Foundation, and the Fund for Folk Culture. Frank is active in two-spirit culture, educating and spreading awareness of issues.

Cara Romero is a Chemehuevi Indian Tribal Citizen and a born visual storyteller. Her distinctive lens is shaped by years of study, a visceral Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history, and personal experience.

Kelly Caballero uses her urban-Indigenous upbringing to inspire songs and stories of life, love and resistance. She lends her voice to support Indigenous communities and the work of sacred cultural site preservation.

Jessa Calderon represents the Tongva and Chumash Nations. Jessa is a singer, rapper and songwriter born and raised in the San Fernando valley. She began writing poetry at ten but soon after discovered rap was her forte. Jessa recently recorded her first Hip-Hop & R&B album.