Oral Histories

Interview of Julia Bogany

Member of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe.
The American Indian Presence in Southern California: Those Who Were Already Here
American Indian History
Biographical Note:
Member of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe.
Coates, Julia
Bogany, Julia
Persons Present:
Bogany, Coates, and Dee Bogany.
Place Conducted:
Tongva Cultural Center in El Monte, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interviews are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Julia Coates; interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., American studies, University of New Mexico; assistant professor, Native American studies, UC, Davis; and visiting professor, College of Liberal Arts, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and served on its tribal council. Coates did extensive interviewing of Cherokee Nation citizens as part of her dissertation and post-doctoral research. Coates prepared for the interviews by speaking at length with Wendy Teeter of UCLA's Fowler Museum.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Bogany was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
3 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in the series the American Indian Presence in Southern California: Those Who Were Already Here survey the experiences of unrecognized tribes at one extreme and gaming tribes at the other. Southern California is the homeland of numerous tribal peoples indigenous to the region. Following the genocidal state policies of the 1800s, which left less than 20,000 California Natives still living (from an original population of more than 300,000 previous to European contact), the peoples of California tribes have been largely invisible to the outside world for much of the twentieth century. The advent of tribal gaming has put California tribes on the radar once again, but the century’s policies also resulted in a loss of federal recognition for still others, including those indigenous to Los Angeles County.
Birthplace and birth date – Lineage of women in her family – Tribal history of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) registrations – How BIA recognition was lost – Grew up in Santa Monica, Venice beach – Local health services in the 1940s – Family congregated at aunt’s house – Tongva families lived next to each other – Memories of her grandmother – Imagines her ancestors’ lives – Tongva families were clustered in certain areas – Interactions with other families – Father’s family also in the neighborhood – Little awareness of race as a child – What the houses were like – Memories of Culver City before it was built up – Parents’ employment – Reminisces about grandmother and mother – Siblings – Mother had polio – Memories of starting school, field trips – Men fished and hunted rabbit – Produced most of their own food – Father had difficulty getting a job after returning from Korea – Father’s education – Languages spoken at home – Parents divorced, father remarried – Lived with grandparents, molested by grandfather – Julia and sister were hit by a car – Moved to Tijuana with stepmother – “Touching” by stepmother’s family members, teacher – Returned to California – Molested by father, threatened by stepbrother – Looking for God – Had three children with stepbrother – Domestic violence – Stepbrother/husband dies – Started drinking – Had another baby – Remarried only after children were grown – Husband was addict – He went back to Arkansas, died there – First begins to reconnect with mother’s family – Becomes interested in Tongva culture – Comforted that molestations had not come from her tribe – Belief that she stopped cancer in her family – Discusses abandonment by mother – Family continued to talk about the molestation – Mother surfaces when Julia is thirteen to tell her she is Tongva – Going to school in Baja – Stepmother disparages Indians – Attended women’s conference at age thirteen – Trying to find safety – Developed close friendship with a neighbor – First interactions with her mother’s family – Started getting involved with other tribes – First husband’s employment.
Works after her husband’s death – Gets GED, goes to college – Works with homeless, felons, Salvation Army – Reconnects with Tongva tribe – Connects with other tribes – Attends cultural events and conferences – Teaches many classes now – First interests – Organizations she started and/or joined – Raising her kids and grandkids as she’s learning – How she identified before she learned she was Indian.
Becomes cultural affairs officer for the tribe – Begins working with museums – Working at colleges – Teaches basketmaking, plants, history, toys and games – Specializes in soapstone carving – Teaches soapstone craft at aquarium – How she learned about Tongva culture – Working with the University of Oklahoma on curriculum about sexual abuse – Has collected forty-five Tongva stories – The meanings of the stories for her – Reasons for re-emergence of Tongva identity in the past forty years – Reactions of non-Indians to assertions of Tongva identity – How others try to define/restrict Tongva identity – Speaks about factionalism and cooperation in the tribe -- Talks about her children and grandchildren – Dispersal of tribal members in the present day – Remarks on language groups and recovery – Remarks on religious and linguistic adaptations for survival – Structure and continuity of the Tongva tribal government – Recent historic interactions between Tongva and the BIA – How Affordable Care Act’s insurance requirements impact her – Tongva are working on their application for federal recognition – Economic changes she has seen in the past forty years – Increasing difficulties for seniors of the tribe – Younger generations are largely employed – Older generations having difficulty maintaining employment – Increase in tribal educational attainment in the last fifteen years – Intertribal educational ventures – Remarks about why she doesn’t want to get a degree – Why California Indian history isn’t being taught – Many people are participating in Tongva cultural revitalization – Tongva population estimates – Description of Tonva groups and the tribe – Other kinds of workshops she teaches – Impressions of the rural Native people in California – How she became a minister – Meshing of Tongva traditions and her ministry – Her marriages and family life – Description of the annual tea party of the women in her family – Stories in the family – Reminiscences of her childhood – How she met her present husband – Caring for her grandchildren – Impacts of urbanization on the Tongva – Reburial issues and their emotional impacts on her – Reasons reburials are required – Halloween presentations she does – Differences between costumes and regalia – Volunteering at Sherman Indian School – Teaching Native women – Revitalization of traditions in recent years – Learning and teaching how to carve soapstone – Where soapstone mines are – Stories about soapstone – Remarks about the women’s circles she has started – Relationships between those from local tribes and those from other tribes who have relocated here – Lack of awareness that the local tribes are here – Government stopped the fiestas for local tribes in the 1930s – Contemporary fiestas – Origins of the fiestas -- Her vision for the Tongva in the near future – Plans for upcoming events – Speaks about her Grandma Julia – Speaks about her purpose in being here.