The First Angelinos:
By William McCawley
The crowded landscape of Los Angeles holds an ancient story, William McCawley writes. It is the story of the brave and resourceful Indian peoples who once inhabited the spacious valleys and plains of Los Angeles and Orange counties in Southern California; of daring seafarers who traveled the open sea in wooden canoes to trade with their kinsmen dwelling on the Channel Islands; of skillful hunters clad in deerskin costumes who roamed the valleys and hills in search of their prey; of powerful shamans who transformed themselves at will into bears and wolves, and an all-knowing, all-powerful creator-god who established the rules by which life was to be lived. It is a story of tragedy and great courage, and an Indian people decimated by disease, prejudice, and poverty, struggling to survive in a new and often unfriendly world. It is the story of the Gabrielino Indians.
This is a definitive study of the pre-mission Gabrielino s religious beliefs and practices, the structure of their society, their political system, the ways they made a living, and their elegant arts and crafts. This invaluable book, accessible to the scholar and general reader alike, is drawn from published and unpublished work of explorers, historians, archaeologists, and ethnographers, including famous ethnographer John P. Harrington.
The First Angelinos is the first book-length treatment of the Gabrielino Indians of Los Angeles in more than thirty years. It is divided into eleven chapters organized by subject heading. The topics include: the Gabrielino Community; Gabrielino place-names; political and social structure; economic organization and trade; religious beliefs and ritual practices; music; oral literature; and games and recreation. The sources of information about the Gabrielino are described in detail, and brief biographical sketches of primary Gabrielino consultants are given. The final chapters of the book discuss the decline of the Gabrielino culture during the late 1700s and early 1800s, following the establishment of Missions San Gabriel and San Fernando.
The First Angelinos contains more than sixty illustrations of artifacts in local museum collections, including many photographs taken by the author. The book also includes regional maps showing the locations of the major Gabrielino communities that have been prepared using information obtained from the notes of anthropologist J. P. Harrington, and maps and documents from the Spanish and Mexican periods. Appendices include the Gabrielino vocabularies collected by Andrew S. Taylor, Oscar Loew, Henry W. Henshaw and Horatio Hale; and a previously unpublished Gabrielino vocabulary of more than one thousand terms collected in 1908 by C. Hart Merriam.