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Nature center goes native

June 26, 2002

Molly Shore

Long before the white man pushed west, the area was inhabited by

the Gabrielinos, members of the Tongva Nation.

In celebration of that heritage, Stough Canyon Nature Center

hosted a daylong event Sunday featuring native foods, music and

games.

Adults and children of the Tongva Nation Dancers, in full

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ceremonial garb, performed a series of dances, including one in honor

of women as procreators.

Dana Bleitz, a part-time recreation leader at the center, said

that a ceremony using white sage was performed to bless the nature

center.

"It has a wonderful, aromatic scent," Bleitz said. "Sweet, clean

and fragrant."

Storyteller Cecilia Garcia told tales from the Chumash and

Gabrielino tribes. Children were taught how to make arrowheads, and

how to grind pigment to make paint.

Fried bread was served, along with muffins with honey from bees

housed in the Verdugo Mountains and jam from local plants.

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