ACLU of Southern California Land Acknowledgment

The ACLU of Southern California acknowledges Indigenous people as the original stewards of the lands on which we now live.  

We acknowledge our Los Angeles office's presence on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Gabrielino-Tongva, Chumash, and Kizh peoples. We acknowledge the collective work of the ACLU of Southern California takes place across the ancestral lands of the Gabrielino-Tongva, Chumash, Cahuilla, Tataviam, Serrano, Kitanemuk, Juaneño, and Luiseño peoples. We recognize them as the traditional caretakers of these lands and the legacy of violence, settlement, and displacement these people forcibly suffered and survived.  

We recognize the importance of reverting this common history and dialogue, of which we are all a part of, by engaging in meaningful indigenous justice work today and in the future.  

The ACLU of Southern California acknowledges the critical importance of the land and water, among other sacred resources, to the Indigenous peoples of California today, and that the existence of tribal communities and preservation of traditional Indigenous ways of life depend on secure and permanent land bases and the right of self-determination.  

The ACLU of Southern California recognizes the painful history upon which the state of California was created, and how policies, systems, and structures continue to oppress and erase Indigenous peoples today.  

The U.S. government, among others, displaced many tribes from their land before treaties were signed. From the brutal mission system during the Spanish colonial period, to the early days in which California joined the union, laws, and policies sought to erase Indigenous peoples altogether. These included the malignant 1850 “Act for the Governance and Protection of Indians,” termination and continued non-recognition of California tribes and tribal governments, and prohibition of traditional and cultural practices. For the past two centuries, settlers have displaced and dispossessed tribal communities of their ancestral lands, sacred sites have been destroyed, and families and communities have been torn apart through residential boarding schools and relocation programs. These atrocities have left long-lasting effects for Indigenous people.  

The ACLU of Southern California further recognizes the diverse Native American diaspora of California, including thousands who were brought here from other parts of the U.S. without their consent or through false promises of opportunity. These policies had a purpose: to permanently and forcibly remove Indigenous communities from their ancestral lands, force their assimilation, and ultimately, ethnic cleansing. 

Our shared history compels us to grapple with this legacy, taking action to interrupt the continued harm of colonialism and genocide and to redress the erasure of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous people are still here, and their very presence is resistance against continued colonialism.  

The ACLU of Southern California is committed to working alongside Indigenous peoples —and following their lead — as they work to uphold their sovereignty, dignity, and identities. We are also committed to continue learning from Indigenous peoples and doing our part to educate others in solidarity with Indigenous communities. We support and defend the rights of all Indigenous peoples to retain their specific cultural and religious traditions and practices. We strive to honor Indigenous cultures and traditions and, when possible and appropriate, integrate Indigenous worldviews and values into our approaches and strategies.  

By committing ourselves to Indigenous justice, building authentic, mutual, and lasting relationships with tribes and Indigenous communities, we honor and stand with all Indigenous people who work tirelessly toward justice and healing. We understand land acknowledgment is an important step in creating collaborative, accountable, and respectful relationships with Indigenous nations and communities.