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Recognition, Acknowledgment, and Stewardship: The Challenges and Opportunities for Rematriating Tovaangar

Mon, October 11, 2021
Dinner Program
Wallace Cleaves

The Tongva have long struggled to gain acknowledgment on their ancestral land of Tovangaar, located in the Los Angeles basin, and to be able to fulfill their responsibility to be stewards to the land, plants, and animals of the region. While the community gained state recognition in 1994, the struggle to gain federal recognition is ongoing. Land acknowledgments and other forms of institutional recognition have helped make the Tongva more visible and have encouraged city, county, and state authorities to engage with the Tongva community on some critical issues. But as Wallace Cleaves, associate professor of teaching and associate director in the University Writing Program at UCR will outline, too often the process is flawed, limited and not relational. The Tongva now look beyond these sometimes performative and incomplete acts to develop meaningful agreements with these institutions and have formed their own land conservancy to protect their heritage and Tovaangar.

Wallace Cleaves is an associate professor of teaching and associate director in the University Writing Program at the University of California at Riverside. A member of the Gabrieleno/Tongva Native American tribe, the Indigenous peoples of the Los Angeles area, he has served in a variety of positions on the Tribal Council, on the board of the Kuruvungna Springs Foundation, and is currently the president of the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy, a non-profit organization with an entirely Tongva board dedicated to cultural preservation and stewardship of land returned to our community.

At UCR, his main responsibilities include First Year Writing and the TA development program and running the year long series of teaching practicum courses for new instructors in the writing program. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval English literature and has taught courses in medieval, renaissance, and Native American literature at Pomona College, Cal State Fullerton, and at U.C. Riverside.

Professor Cleaves is the featured speaker in recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day. 


View Video: YouTube with Wallace Cleaves

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