Chief ya'anna Learning Village
Academia Anawakalmekak is proud to announce the rematriation of 12 acres of land on Via Marisol to the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California. Led by youth leaders at the school as part an Indigenous resurgence, the land was named Chief Ya'anna Learning Village and Tuatukar Eco-Cultural Center named after Chief Vera Ya'anna Rocha. Respecting the properties open space zoning and the wishes of the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California Tribal Council and elders, Anawakalmekak will collaborate with local and regional Indigenous organizations and advisors as we imagine a future of ecological sustainability, ecosystem restoration, and cultural education in the space.

“Many years ago, my mother, now Sky Chief Vera Ya’anna Rocha, envisioned a day when the land, where we once flourished, would become available to our people so that we could teach and educate Indigenous children of our ways and the beauty of our culture, so that our roots could spread again and bare fruit of resilience. Today, I have tears of joy, for now I can look up to the sky and say, “Mama, That Day Has Come!” said Co-Chairperson Nicholas Rocha of the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California Tribal Council.
The land was purchased by Tzicatl Community Development Corporation, an Indigenous nonprofit organization. The purchase of the land, made with the support from the NDN Collective Landback Fund, Metabolic Studio, and the TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation/Kat Taylor, is evidence of a commitment to the struggle to return the native lands to their original peoples. With the permission and guidance of the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California Tribal Council, we hope to cultivate an open and vibrant space with respect for the guardians of that hill.
“We want to thank and recognize the support of our partners in the creation of a learning space for students, as well as for the Anawakalmekak community in general.said Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director at Anawakalmekak. “Our work in defense of Landback organizing in Los Angeles is an act in defense of the self-determination of the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California and all other local Indigenous Peoples and land-based tribes in LA County.”
“The Village at Otsuunga is a monument to the living legacy of our school’s founder, Chief Yaana Vera Rocha and the future of her People, the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California.” said Minnie Ferguson, Director of Education at Anawakalmekak. To commemorate this important phase of Anawakalmekak's growth as the only Indigenous school in Los Angeles County, we are hosting a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the newly acquired land to be held symbolically on the same day as California Native American Day.
This year also marks the 20th Anniversary of Academia Anawakalmekak, started in 2002. The purchase of the land is a culmination of 20 years of self-determination and a right to provide an Indigenous education that meets the needs of Indigenous peoples without cultural, linguistic and physical erasure as a result of the colonized compulsory educational experience in Los Angeles County.