Santa Monica Cultural Affairs

City of Santa Monica

Tongva Park
Tongva Park / Photo by Jason Abraham

Indigenous Now

Saturday, May 11, 2019
12 – 4 p.m., Free admission

Tongva Park
1615 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401

A day of dance, music, spoken word and visual art by indigenous artists from Los Angeles, Santa Rosa and Santa Fe. Audiences are invited to move through the park freely encountering each performance and installation at their own pace. Indigenous Now highlights Tongva Park’s unusual geography of gardens, winding paths, and urban vistas, reimagining the small, exquisite “rooms.”

Event Program/Schedule

Coming soon…

Artists and Performers

A special opening ritual launches this dynamic, inspirational and provocative day, which includes dance performances by Dancing Earth, embodying an “elemental language of bone and blood memory in motion.”

Performers will include two-spirit dancer Snowflake Towers (Yaqui/Tzeltal), Natalie Benally (Dine/Zuni/Ute) and Dakota Camacho (Matao/Chamoru). Dancing Earth is the recipient of the National Museum of American Indian’s Expressive Arts Award and has been named by Dance Magazine as “One of the Top 25 to Watch.”

Legendary visual artist L Frank (Tongva-Ajachmem), arrives from Santa Rosa to present an installation commissioned especially for Indigenous Now. In 2016, Frank built a traditional Tongva tule boat for Northwest Journeys, an intertribal event in Washington State. Frank is a member of the California Indian Basketweavers Association, a founding member of the Advocates for Indigenous California Languages, and an educator in Two-Spirit culture.

Photographer Cara Romero (Chemehuevi) brings a spectacular series of billboard-sized pieces to occupy a substantial area of the park. The works represent a “complex interplay of social commentary, adaptation, and examination of modern culture with a precisely Indigenous world view” and are fresh from the 2019 Desert X exhibition in Coachella Valley.

Singer-songwriter Kelly Caballero (Tongva) uses her urban-indigenous upbringing to inspire songs and stories of life, love and resistance. Kelly will perform with her acoustic ensemble, 7th Generation fusing world music, pop and folk.

Hip hop recording artist Jessa Calderon (Tongva) sings and raps new rhymes. Growing up in the “rough city streets of Pacoima,” Jessa became a “healer in the arts of music.” Jessa wrote her first verse at 13, was street battling at 16, and by 18 had become “First Lady of the Fearless Crowd.”

About Tongva Park

Take one step inside Tongva Park and you’ll find it hard to believe that this 6-acre urban oasis was a flat asphalt parking lot just a few short years ago.

Together with Ken Genser Square, these two public spaces were part of a community-sourced vision for a vibrant new neighborhood that would bring life to Santa Monica’s Civic Center.

The park name celebrates of the rich culture and traditions of the indigenous Tongva people who have lived in this region for thousands of years, and were deeply connected to the original arroyos, native landscape, springs, and the ‘breath of the ocean’ that are symbolically represented in this park.

Visit for more information about the park.

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