As a senior journalism major at the University of La Verne, I am required to put together a project that is a direct reflection of the quality of work I am capable of. By mid May, I will be completing a magazine focused on local Native American culture with my own writing, photography and design. In my childhood and teenage years, I strayed away from my family’s Mexican and Native roots to pursue an identity that externally I passed as–white.

Although I do have Scottish, Irish, French and English blood, these were not the cultures my family practiced regularly or that I grew up around. Instead, my Nana taught me how to make buñuelos and menudo, the beauty of domingo money and the teachings of Catholicism. One thing that she and my Tata did not teach me, however, was Spanish. It was a language that only my great grandparents spoke and did not pass on because in their time, in this area, speaking Spanish was looked down upon. If only then knew that in my college years, I would be paying big bucks to take two semester of the language. I also have memories of visiting family on the Cahuilla reservation, where my father spent his childhood. Every few years, we would go back. In working with local tribes and my own, I’ve decided that making a difference through my writing and photography are an important way I can give back after all the blessings I have received. This work–charity, documentation, and brining light to important issues facing our indigenous brothers and sisters–does not stop when I graduate from ULV. I will be continuing on to graduate school, USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, and onwards.

I chose to create a magazine so that I may showcase my many skills and show my abilities as a future magazine writer/photographer, but also because I believe the local indigenous community is an under-served and misunderstood one. The lack of representation at my University, the fact that myself and only one other person have pushed for more, frustrates me. This project is an effort to not only learn more about the vibrant and diverse cultures of my own roots and that of others, but to serve as a public service announcement that their cultures are not dead. I want to highlight not only the issues Native people face, but the resiliency and beauty. This project will be done with cultural sensitivity and competency as I am aware of the fine line between appreciation and appropriation. As I said, I am not fully in-touch with my Native roots and am hoping to learn more, therefore I must have advisors to aid me in appropriateness. I am working with elders of three tribes to be sure of this, and am always open to constructive criticism from them and others.

Below, I will be posting updates on my work.

Mission statement: SoCal Native (working title) is a magazine focused on the culture, beauty and issues of Southern California’s indigenous communities. Focusing in the areas of Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire, SoCalNative works with Universities, non-profits, tribal governments and elders, and Native activists, artists and scholars to bring its readers articles and photos that will make a change in a group that often feels invisible in higher education, local government, media representation and numerous other areas of every day life.

Article/Photo Spread Topics:

Native Americans in higher education

Defining historical trauma and how to combat it

The Kizh’s fight for federal recognition

Suicide rates in indigenous peoples

Missing indigenous women and how their cases are handled

Southern California American Indian Movement

Native American representation at the University of La Verne

Native American identity centers at colleges and Universities

The work of indigenous activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

ULV’s Native American basket collection restoration project

Dan Kennan, Lakota Sioux Rosebud elder, Vietnam veteran, activist, professor

The work of Red Circle Project

The history of Joshua Tree National Park’s petroglyphs: real or fake?

Danza Azteca Toyaacan

Local sage gardens

Renaming of Tony Cerda park



Native American Graduation Celebration- May 11, 2019 at Cal Poly Pomona



Interview Genealogist Lorraine Escobar- May 1, 2019 over phone

Interview with Jane Duran, Tongva Student- April 30, 2019 at Barb’s

Kizh History Lecture by Tim Miguel- April 27, 2019 at the Homestead Museum

Photograph and Interview with Kizh at the Homestead Museum’s Victorian Fair- April 27 and 28, 2019 at Homestead Museum

Ohlone Pow Wow-April 26 through 28 at Tony Cerda Park

Interview with Prof. Felicia Beardsley on Hutchinson Basket Collection- April 26, 2019 at ULV’s Cultural Collection

Interview with Prof. Leticia Arellano-April 22, 2019 in Hoover

Interview with Shelley Urbizagaste, ULV Librarian- April 18, 2019 in Wilson Library

Collected ULV diversity Statistics from Office of Institutional Research- April 16, 2019 via email

Interview with Ohlone Tribal Chair Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra- April 16, 2019 in Los Angeles

Gabrielino/Kizh recognition ceremony- April 16, 2019 in Los Angeles

Photograph La Casa Primera de Rancho San Jose- April 14, 2019 in Pomona

Photograph Adobe de Palomares- April 14, 2019 in Pomona

Photograph Danza Azteca Toyaacan- April 13, 2019 at Garey High School, Pomona

Photograph Annual Cesar Chavez Pilgrimage- April 13, 2019 at Garey High School, Pomona

Interview with Ohlone Tribal Chair Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra- April 13, 2019 at Garey High School, Pomona

Interview with Cal Poly Pomona Native American Student Center Coordinator Elena Nourrie (Hopi/Cherokee)- April 12, 2019 at CPP NASC

Interview with ULV’s Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs, Misty Levingston- April 8, 2019 at BSU’s Spring Festival

Red Circle Project- March 18, 2019 at Red Circle Project

Sage Ceremony- March 11, 2019 at the University of La Verne Citrus Hall

Interview with Indigenous Activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez- March 11, 2019 at the University of La Verne

Interviewed ULV Cultural Collections archivist Anne Collier- March 4, 2019 at the University of La Verne’s Cultural Collections

Attended Dan Kennan’s Sage Ceremony- Feb. 27, 2019 at the University of La Verne

Interviewed Dan Kennan (Lakota Sioux Rosebud)- Feb. 27, 2019 at the University of La Verne

Research in Archives- Feb. 25, 2019 in the University of La Verne Archives

Trip to Joshua Tree National Park- Feb. 23, 2019