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Remembering Julia Bogany, Who Fought To Keep LA's Native Tongva Culture Alive

Julia Bogany (left) with her cousin Kimberly Morales Johnson (right). (Photo Courtesy Art Morales)
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Julia Bogany, a revered Tongva elder and cultural ambassador, has died at the age of 72 — the result of a stroke last month.

Bogany worked for more than 30 years to spread awareness of the Tongva tribe, the original inhabitants of the Los Angeles Basin.

She served on their Tribal Council, taught students from the Claremont Colleges, worked to preserve the Tongva language, and consulted with artists on public art projects, like the Gold Line Bridge over the 210 freeway in Arcadia, which has support columns that emulate Gabrieleno/Tongva baskets.

On her website,, Bogany wrote:

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"Tongva women never left their ancestral homeland, they just became invisible. 'How do we make ourselves not invisible?' is the question I ask every day."

Kimberly Morales Johnson is Bogany's cousin and served with her on the Tribal Council. She remembers Bogany as a tireless activist:
"She would start sometimes at 5 o'clock in the morning and not get home until 10 o'clock at night. Just all on her quest to make sure that people knew who the Gabrielino/Tongva were, and that we are still here, and that we still exist."

Johnson says Bogany herself is painted in a 47-foot mural at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

"Right now she's on, I think 10 different billboards in in LA County," Johnson told us, "from an artist that drew her with the most beautiful blue flowing hair."

Julia Bogany painted by artist Erin Yoshi (Courtesy of the artist)

Julia Bogany is survived by her husband Andrew, four children, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

Here's a recent interview she did with Metro in 2020:


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