Indigenous In Us: Embracing Ancestral Knowledge and Sharing the Beauty of Practice

The Indigenous in Us: Embracing Ancestral Knowledge and Sharing the Beauty of Practice, showcases community-based indigenous wellbeing practices of Native Mexica groups (with links to Nahuatl-speaking indigenous ancestors from central Mexico) and our local Native American Tataviam nation group, whose combined teachings connect the Northeast San Fernando Valley to the past and present United States, Mexico, and Central America. Over a 12-months, a series of free public cultural events will focus on ancestral knowledge/arts for social well being.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

San Fernando Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Pukuu Cultural Community Services

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Pukúu Cultural Community Services, a non-profit based in San Fernando, is joining Tia Chuchas as a partner to provide health, wellness, & cultural empowerment to our communities via providing venue space, joint programming, & facilitating intercultural dialogue. Pukúu’s Cultural Advocacy, Resiliency & Empowerment Program (CARE) prioritizes cultural engagement as a means to help shape our youth, enhance cultural identity, utilize various artforms & medium in creative ways, improve mental, physical, & emotional health indicators, reduce disparities, improve socialization and overall skill-sets, & improve confidence/mastery of various disciplines, such as, but not limited to storytelling, dance, music, and beading. Pukúu utilizes California Native traditional lifeways and pan-Indian artforms.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Our project highlights Indigenous-based arts and wellness practices for self-care and community-care at a time when they are much-needed. Many people are not aware of the significance of these ancestral practices, even while many may be unknowingly practiced in families for generations. These cultural customs involve many types of ceremonies honoring social and natural occurrences, the changing of the seasons, or teachings on ways to balance one's life or engage respectfully with others. Exposing more people to groups and individuals who carry and practice this knowledge would contribute to an awareness, understanding and appreciation of other restorative ways. This work is an opportunity to connect individuals and our larger LA community to their own indigenous traditions that have been disrupted by a history of colonization while reminding all people of their shared humanity and diversity as expressed in indigenous practices.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Our practice is rooted in the recognition of the indigenous mindset. This project embodies our lived mission of honoring ancestral knowledge and delves into the rich history that is the source of today’s expressions of ancestral practices. For 18 years we have provided access to cultural traditions such as Danza Mexica and Mexicayotl workshops, addressing teachings in Nahuatl language, Mexica calendar, and more. We are connected with the local Fernandeno Tataviam tribe & its nonprofit Pukuu in ongoing collaboration & cultural sharing. Pukuu has been operating since the 1970’s in community reinvestment & cultural wellness. This project is a way to fully partner in sharing knowledge of our traditions and customs. Our philosophical statement guides our practice: “to incorporate the ancient indigenous mind and wisdom within the present actualities of modern life and culture so that every person, every family and every community can live deeply rooted, meaningful and purposeful lives.”

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 1,500

Indirect Impact: 4,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The majority of our community are immigrant residents from Mexico and other Central American countries traumatized by poverty, war and violence. Poverty, low education levels and depression are widespread in our service area. Understanding this, the arts and cultural experiences we offer embrace our community’s histories, cultures, and languages to restore and celebrate their identities, validate their voices, and foster new options. This project promotes the often hidden existing resources of ancestral knowledge to those who could benefit from them most. Bringing awareness to indigenous and native communities in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and brings cultural equity and inclusion to the forefront of the diverse LA demographic.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

In collaboration with Pukuu Cultural Community Center, we see that our history, customs, cultural and ancestral knowledge gives us the tools and skills to remedy and recover what was lost during colonization, and build the resiliency to face current tribulations. Continuing this project bridges the community to “ancestral literacy” by means of workshops, ceremonies, and a final wellness culmination to learn, reflect, and share indigenous-based history, lessons, skills and practices. Our vision for success is to engage Northeast San Fernando residents, the majority who originate from Mexico, Central America, and are of Native American decent, to share dialogue, co-learn self-care skills and history rooted in ancestral and indigenous knowledge relevant to them by hosting workshops throughout the project period at our community centers. The outcome of workshops is to prepare participants to put the lessons into action in their daily lives. To evaluate and measure this each workshop will include a brief survey to gauge the participant’s experience. The anonymous surveys will address questions of facilitation, content, personal experience, likelihood of implementation and ask how they heard about the workshop. Our vision of success is to reawaken the native within through bridging, connecting, and sharing with the greater community of Los Angeles that we are present with ancestral knowledge that can help us live more meaningful lives.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

Public arts and cultural events

Immigrant integration

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff

Strategy assistance and implementation