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Then native inhabitants of Los Angeles have all but disappeared from the Los Angeles basin. These people, known now as the Gabrielinos, because of their association with the San Gabriel Mission, (their original name since forgotten), lived in an area they called Yang Na (z, 1), and were believed to have a population of five to ten thousand (Rios-Bustamante, 16). Today Native Americans make up only 0.5 percent of the population in Los Angeles County (US Census of Population 1990 Social and Economic Characteristics, 34) In 1767, Gabrielinos inhabited about 40-60 permanent villages near the best sources of food, water and other important natural materials (Rios-Bustamante, 16). Fray Crespi, one of the first Europeans to travel to this area documented what he saw:

After traveling about a league and a half through a pass between low hills, we entered a very spacious valley, well grown with cottonwoods and alders, among which ran a beautiful river from the north-northwest, and then, doubling the point of a steep hill, it went on afterwards to the south. … We halted not very far from the river which we named Porcióncula. Here we felt three consecutive earthquakes in the afternoon and night. … This plane where the river runs is very extensive. It has good land for planting all kinds of grain and sees, and is the most suitable site of all we have seen for mission, for it has all the requisites for a large settlement. As soon as we arrived about eight heathen from a good village came to visit us; they live in this delightful place among the trees on the river. They presented us with some baskets of pinole make from seeds of sage and other grasses. Their chief brought some strings of beads made of shells, and they threw us three handfuls of them. Some of the old men were smoking pipes well made of baked clay and they puffed at us three mouthfuls of smoke. We gave them a little tobacco and glass beads, and they went away well pleased (Layne, 2).

The early settlers established different types of relationships with the Native Americans. Social cultural relationships included trade, participation in recreation, informational exchanges, compadrazgo, marriage, concubanage, and casual unions (Rios-Bustamante, 22). The last three of these relationships resulted in mestizaje, meaning that part of the Los Angeles Mexican community can trace its decent from Gabrielinos and other California natives (Rios-Bustamante, 11). The knowledge and skills of the Native Americans were transmitted to Mexicans because in many instances, there was a blood relationship. This transmission on knowledge and skills was essential to the survival of the Mexican settlers that arrived in 1781.


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