Native American Heritage Month - Images From the Collection

Photo Friends,
Indians accept proclamation
George Pierre, Chief of the Nez Perce tribe, accepts a proclamation for All American Indian Week, held by City Council member Gilbert Lindsay. Also on hand in City Hall Chambers is Iron Eyes Cody and Councilman Billy Mills, along with other Native Americans in full dress, [1968]. Rolland J Curtis Collection

November is Native American Heritage Month. The land that now constitutes California once housed the most diverse population of indigenous people in the Western hemisphere, with 150 different Native American tribes inhabiting the area. While the population of these native people decreased significantly in the 19th century largely due to genocidal policies implemented by the United States government, there are still over one hundred federally recognized Native American tribes in California. Our photo collection offers a glimpse of Native Americans celebrating holidays, remembering their heritage, and living their lives in Southern California.

1st Annual Kateri Circle Powwow
Members of the Golden State Gourd Society (which originated in Maywood, California, in 1971) gather at the first annual Kateri Circle pow wow. Shades of L.A., Native American Community; photograph taken in 1990

Astronaut Robert Crippen (center), who flew on four space shuttle missions (three as commander), is of Cherokee heritage. Here he is photographed with Native American employees of Rockwell International in Thousand Oaks, California. These employees are of Wichita, Comanche, Choctaw, Cheyenne, and Oto tribe heritage.

Rockwell International employees
Shades of L.A., Native American Community, Comanche Community, Wichita Community, Cherokee Community, Oto Community, Cheyenne Community, Choctaw Community; photograph taken in 1981
Orange County Indian Center powwow
Margo, a Native American of Comanche and Wichita heritage, attends a pow wow at the Orange County Indian Center in Stanton, California. Shades of L.A., Native American Community, Comanche Community, Wichita Community; photograph taken in 1980
Navajos grinding corn
Two Navajo girls reenact the age-old practice of grinding corn at the South East Indian Center in Huntington Park, California. The ceremony included singers, feather dancers, and gourd music, [1974]. Photo credit: Myron Dubee, Herald Examiner Collection

Father Paul Ojibway, a Catholic priest and member of the Fond du Luc Band of Lake Superior Chippewa of Minnesota, sought to build bridges between Native American Catholics and the wider Catholic community. He served in Native American ministries in California for over twenty years, becoming Director of American Indian Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and also serving as Director of Native American ministries in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Here he is seen serving Mass at a pow wow at St. Francis High School in La Canada.

Catholic mass at Powwow
Shades of L.A., Native American Community, photograph taken in 1991
Navaho [sic] opens art exhibit
Navajo artist Kin-ya-onny-beyeh (also known as Carl Nelson Gorman or Carl Gorman) exhibits his artwork in a gallery in Woodland Hills, California, [1963]. Photo credit: George Brich, Valley Times Collection
Young warrior
Youngster John Nolan from the Pima Pagago Reservation in Phoenix, Arizona, participates in a Drum and Feather War Dance held at the Burbank recreation hall while Mrs. Fred Gabourie, a Cherokee dancing champion from Burbank, watches, [1964]. Photo credit: Bob Martin, Valley Times Collection

Carl Fisher, an African American with Choctaw heritage, became an Auxiliary Bishop for the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1987. He was the first African American Catholic bishop on the West Coast and supervised 70 parishes, 53 elementary schools, and 10 high schools in the San Pedro Pastoral Region. Here he poses with Native Americans at his first mass in the Los Angeles area.

Bishop Fisher at first mass
Shades of L.A.: Native American Community; photograph taken in 1987
American Indian ballet student
Mary Robinson, a young woman of Choctaw heritage, is photographed at 13 years of age practicing her ballet steps. Mary later moved from Salinas, California, to Los Angeles and became a professional dancer and actress. Shades of L.A.: Native American Community; photograph taken in 1927
Tony Purley Tribal Dancers
A dancer from the Tony Purley Tribal Dancers performs at the sixth annual American Indian Artistry program at the County Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park, [n.d.]. Herald-Examiner Collection
Sherman Indian High School Indian Day Parade
Navajo students at Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, California, don native dress and ride on the hood of a car displaying Navajo blankets and a Navajo rug during the school’s Indian Day parade. Shades of L.A.: Native American Community; photograph taken in 1970

Written by Annie Murphy. Originally published on the Photo Friends Blog November 9, 2016.