Partnering With Tribal Leaders to Protect a Sacred Space
Puvungna, a 22-acre parcel of land on the California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) campus, holds historical, cultural, and religious significance for the region’s Native American Tribal groups. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the California Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Lands Inventory, Puvungna is the most significant remaining undeveloped parcel of the Acjachemen and Tongva peoples’ sacred land in Southern California and is actively used for ceremonies and celebrations.
The university has tried several times to develop Puvungna. Most recently, the university dumped 6,400 cubic yards of construction dirt and debris on this sacred land. The Acjachemen Tribal group filed suit against the university to prevent the further desecration of the land.
Through earned media, social media and strategically timed opinion pieces, Public Good PR helped Tribal leaders pressure the university to resolve 30 years of conflict without having to go to court. The Tribal group and allies reached a settlement agreement with CSULB that includes permanent protection for Puvungna, prohibits development, and allows continued religious and cultural Tribal activities on the land. This agreement was a major victory for the Acjachemen and Tongva peoples after decades of struggle.