James A. Blaisdell, president of Pomona College, writes to Ellen Browning Scripps, of La Jolla, his hopes for a “group of institutions divided into small colleges—somewhat on the Oxford type.” Ellen Browning Scripps becomes one of the founders of a new corporation, named The Claremont Colleges.
The first people arrived in what is now Claremont out of the Great Basin area of southern Oregon and Nevada around 1500 BCE. The area that is now California contained around one million people who had incredible linguistic diversity and autonomous tribal communities. In the Los Angeles Basin, there lived around 5,000 descendants of the Takic peoples; they were part of the larger Ute-Aztecan linguistic family, which also included the Aztecs of Mexico; the Hopi, Papago, and Pima of Arizona; and the Ute of Colorado and Utah. Takic-speaking groups, such as the Tongva and the Serrano, were organized into hundreds of villages referred to collectively as Tovangar: the world of the Tongva. They subsisted as hunters and plant gatherers, traveling seasonally between the basin and the mountains. Mt. Baldy was called Joat—Snowy Mountain—and Claremont was called Torojoatngna, “the place below Joat.” The best documented material evidence of their presence in Claremont is on a mesa located near what is now the California Botanic Garden, which they continued to frequent up to the late-nineteenth century.
In the spirit of Scripps College’s founding commitments to education, leadership, and integrity, we believe that it is important for Scripps to acknowledge that the College is located on the homeland of Indigenous peoples who were dispossessed of their land. Moving forward, we will work to instill greater respect and recognition for the histories, cultures, and contemporary presence of Native peoples in California and especially in the Los Angeles region.
From 2019–2021, a working group of the Scripps Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity consulted with various groups, including faculty and students in the NAIS minor program and Indigenous Peer Mentoring Program, and cultural educators in order to craft the acknowledgment below:
We would like to respectfully acknowledge that Scripps College sits within the historic homeland of the Tongva people. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and colonization in our area. We acknowledge the strength and resilience of the Tongva people of the past, present, and future as the original caretakers of the land, water, and air, and we recognize our responsibility to be respectful stewards of the Scripps College campus. Today, this area and this campus are home to many Indigenous people from across the globe and we are proud that they are part of our community and institution.
We recognize that a land acknowledgment is not an end in itself and must be part of a larger landscape of individual, collective, and institutional commitments. We hope this statement will serve as a resource for Scripps departments, institutes, and organizations seeking to honor Indigenous peoples in various communications and gatherings, including events, program materials, and publications.