Topanga, Cahuenga, and Tujunga—Sounds from a Rediscovered Local Language

The Words of L.A.’s Tongva Indians Live On


As Los Angeles fourth graders know (because their curriculum includes the study of California Indians), the original language of Los Angeles is Tongva. This American Indian language (also called Gabrielino) used to be spoken in villages all over the L.A. Basin and, in a related dialect, throughout most of the San Fernando Valley.

These villages have given their names to places all over Los Angeles, including Tujunga (from Tongva Tuhuunga “place of the old woman”) and Cahuenga (from Kawee’nga “place of the fox”). Some names don’t have translations we know of, …

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