The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space

By William David Estrada | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Cultural and Historical Origins

Indigenous Roots

Any discussion of the actual founding of Los Angeles must address the cultural and environmental history of the area before 1781, because the design and meaning of the eighteenth-century Plaza was not based exclusively upon a complex set of colonial laws and designs. The site of the pueblo was the result of careful observation of the indigenous people who successfully occupied the area for generations before colonization. The contributions of the Gabrielino people to the founding of Los Angeles were significant, especially as an available labor supply. The Gabrielino village of Yaanga provided the pobladores (founders) with a geographic reference point for siting the pueblo and Plaza. The Indians transmitted their knowledge of and skills in the local environment to the pobladores, and intermarriage was common. The Gabrielinos’ spoken language and cultural practices, especially of indigenous medicine, gave the emerging pueblo community a unique social context with the Plaza as its heart.

Long before the arrival of the Gabrielino, information on the earliest people to occupy the Los Angeles area remains uncertain. A growing body of research in the form of radiocarbon data from archaeological sites on the

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The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Cultural and Historical Origins 15
  • Chapter Two - The Rise and Decline of the Mexican Plaza 43
  • Chapter Three - From Ciudad to City 81
  • Chapter Four - Homelands Remembered 109
  • Chapter Five - Revolution and Public Space 133
  • Chapter Six - Reforming Culture and Community 169
  • Chapter Seven - Parades, Murals, and Bulldozers 203
  • Chapter Eight - Politics and Preservation 231
  • Chapter Nine - The Persistence of Memory 259
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 311
  • Index 329
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