Thank you Leo, for speaking out for natives at the recent Golden Globes
This letter is an attempt to protect and preserve Sacred Land of the Gabrieleno Kizh Nation in the greater Los Angeles area.
"It is time that we recognize your history (Native People) and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected this planet for future generations."--Leonardo DiCaprio, Golden Globe Awards.
The Whittier Narrows Nature Center and Sanctuary is Sacred to the Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians, Kizh Nation. The Kizh are the confirmed original Tribe of the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basins. This sensitive area is on schedule to be desecrated. The site is registered with Native American Heritage Commission Sacred Site Inventory. This area is the site of the former village of Houtgna. The natural area is well known to Audubon enthusiast for the migrating birds. The Nature Center will be razed for an 18,000 sq. ft. Discovery Center, a 102+ vehicle parking lot, and a makeshift pond. The Kizh have openly and publically voiced their opposition to the location, not the concept. We have gone before the Discovery Center Authority and have met with County officials to no avail. The former 'duck farm' has been suggested on numerous occasions as an acceptable alternative.
Ironically, the Discovery Center proponents feel it is necessary to destroy nature to preserve the concept. The proponents will argue they have the support of several school districts, local politicians, numerous conservancy groups, and other special interest. However, they have not been open to the public about the project. There are several organized groups in opposition to the project. The opposition, including the Kizh have walked the area and have contacted bicyclist, hikers, families, bird watchers and anyone that frequents the serene environment. Not one was aware of the destruction that is to occur.
Why haven't the proponents promoted the project? Why has the County of Los Angeles donate $6 million to the project as well as 'in-kind' use of some of the property? Three million was donated nearly eight years ago. That is $3 million of taxpayer money in the coffers of the Discovery Authority which could had been used for other public programs or necessities. Has the money been spent or is the taxpayers money gaining monetary interest at the expense of the taxpayers? As a taxpayer, these are questions that need to be answered and an audit should be mandated in view of the fact not one shovel has turned any dirt.
Mr. DiCaprio expressed the truth of what historically has been disrespect and inconsideration to the First Nation of this Country. Sadly, the callous attitude towards the original caretakers of this land continues. What is most significant is the disregard for natural habitat and the Indigenous People is occurring in our own backyard of the San Gabriel Valley. I encourage everyone to contact the Board of Supervisors, the Discovery Center Authority and anyone else in favor of the project to reconsider the destruction of one of the last natural and cultural areas of Los Angeles County.