News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

‘Time Jockey ’: KIZH VILLAGES

by Joe Castillo

Gabrieleno Village Sites  ….   The indigenous people of Los Angeles Basin occupied this area for approximately 3,500 years according to archeological, biological and linguistic data collected and researched of this area. The tribal name of the indigenous people was Kizh and after the Spanish arrived in the 1760’s, their new name of Gabrielenos was applied.  The Spanish were quick to identify sites for their new Missions based on the locations of villages of the local indigenous people. Early research indicated that the village around the San Gabriel Mission area was known as Shevaanga . In 1852, Hugo Reid confirmed that a village existed at the site of the Mission in his report on the local indigenous people. In 1986, the researcher Harrington reported that ‘sivapet,’ a variant name for Shevaanga, reported that Shevaangna was not of San Gabriel but of a place near San Gabriel. More specifically, it was a barranco or ravine near where the old Los Angeles road crossed the river. Harrington also noted that ‘sivapet’ also refers to a stone place and an area around San Gabriel. Two other names also refer to the Gabrieleno locations in the local vicinity. In 1860, Alexander Taylor referred to the site of the Mission as Toviscangna and was near a large rancheria. As a matter of fact Toviscangna was written by Father Junipero Serra on the title page of the Book of Confirmations at the San Gabriel Mission. In addition, in 1907, the researcher Kroeber suggested that the name Tuvasaak, along with Siba and Toviska, also referred to the area of San Gabriel. The village of Shevaanga or Simbangna  was located at the area about 1 mile from the Mission in Rosemead. The area was near present day Rio Hondo Avenue and Savannah School however the name of Shevaanga was too difficult for new early settlers to say so the name of Savannah was used. The historic pioneer cemetery located in Rosemead named Savannah, more than likely was named after the Gabrieleno-Kizh village of Shevaanga.  In conclusion, two of the Gabrieleno-Kizh villages located in the immediate local area are Toviscangna and Shevaangna. Toviscangna was at the site of the present day San Gabriel Mission. Shevaanga was at present day site of Savannah School in Rosemead. There were many more Gabrieleno-Kizh villages in the Los Angeles basin, and their current names probably reflect the names of the villages which occupied this area for over 3,500 years…..

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