Gabrielino Shoshone Tribe members Jaime Rocha, left, her mother Eileen Rocha, Jaime’s sister Cheyenne Rocha, along with Tecpatl Kuauhtzin, Minnie Ferguson, Victorino Torres-Nova, Trinidad Ruiz and Marcos Aguilar, all from the Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America, stand on a vacant site where an extension of their school will be built in Monterey Hills.

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L.A.’s only Indigenous school helps return land to California’s Native population

When Jamie Rocha and her family first visited the swath of undeveloped land in the Monterey Hills late last year, the grass was dead, the ground muddy.

But on a recent Thursday, after drenching rains in Los Angeles, the grass was a rich green and purple lupine lined the path. Coyotes roamed nearby, sniffing the ground before disappearing below the hillside’s sloping edge.

The afternoon calm belied the family’s excitement. On this day, they were walking on what would one day be their land, 12 acres that had been purchased by the region’s only Indigenous charter school and returned to the Gabrielino Shoshone Tribal Nation of Southern California, the area’s original inhabitants.

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