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First People, First Community

Bruce Love

It is often forgotten that the true history of places such as Lancaster extends far beyond the range of pioneer settlement. In fact, Native communities have been existing within the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas for some 12,000 years or more. As such, it is important to remember that these Native populations have been here much longer than commonly acknowledged, and are still here! To this end, First People, First Communities attempts to honor the Antelope Valley’s First People by recognizing this extensive history of local Native populations and engaging with living tribal members.

Through a collection of cultural artifacts, photographs and quotes from tribal elders, First People, First Communities offers a glimpse into the true time depth of Native American presence in the Antelope Valley as well as the significant role these groups play in contemporary society. Here, the past and present are merged to assert the extensive role of Native Americans within our community. This exhibit bridges the time span, connecting present-day Native peoples with their far-reaching past while offering perspectives that are often neglected in contemporary narratives.

This exhibit was initially inspired by the Lancaster Museum of Art and History’s wish to dedicate the land the museum is on to the people who lived here first. To do so, we reached out to Dr. Bruce Love, an Antelope Valley resident, anthropologist, and archaeologist, who collaborated with local tribal communities. Dr. Love earned his Ph.D in anthropology from UCLA in the 1980s, and has since worked to build and maintain relationships between archaeologists, anthropologists and contemporary tribal communities within the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas.

Acknowledgements are made to participating tribal communities including Serrano, Chemehuevi, Kawaiisu, Kitanemuk, and Tataviam, as well as Paiute. Special thanks are made to Tribal Elders Charles Wood, Ralph Girado, Lucille Girado Hicks, Ted Garcia, Kim Marcus, and Ernest Siva for their contributions, as well as Tejon Indian Tribe chairman Octavio Escobedo for providing the portrait and quote from the last Kitanemuk chief, Chief Juan Lozada.


First People, First Communities Panel Discussion with Tribal Leaders

Thursday, July 16, 2020 | 6 PM

Moderated by: Dr. Bruce Love


James Ramos, State Assemblyman, Serrano

Charles Wood, Chairman, Chemehuevi Indian Tribe

Sandra Hernandez , Executive Committee Secretary, Tejon Indian Tribe (Kitanemuk)

Rudy Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño -Tataviam Band of Mission Indians

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