Colonization Part III

Treaty Denial and Manifest Destiny

After the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 ending the Mexican-American War, California (the land that the Mexicans called Alta California) along with land that would later become many Western states was ceded to the US. Shortly after, the US government signed 18 treaties with a variety of indigenous groups in the California region which were meant to set aside 8.5 million acres as tribal lands in exchange for the rest of California’s land to be eligible for private ownership by anglo Americans.3 The US Senate chose not to ratify any of these treaties and placed an “injunction of secrecy” upon them keeping them from public accessibility for 50 years. According to the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe, “They were discovered in a locked desk drawer in the Senate Archives in 1905.”3

The Tongva people were never granted their own reservation, instead succumbing to the policy of assimilation established by President Eisenhower in the 1950s.3 

Between the time of the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the founding of South Pasadena, much of the city’s current land remained part of a larger land plot controlled by one or two individuals originally established in the area’s designation as Rancho Pascual.1 Beginning in the 1870s, some of modern South Pasadena was sold to the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association who utilized some of the lands as agricultural fields.1 This brief period of our history is often codified in city imagery and even in the name of a major street. This glorification often excludes the context of indigenous treaty betrayal and denial that allowed for this great accumulation of agricultural wealth in our city.  


1. Thompson, Edward Grant. “The History and Development of South Pasadena to 1917,” Department of History, University of Southern California. June, 1938.

2. California Missions Foundation, “The California Missions.” California Missions Foundation.

3. Gabrielino – Tongva Tribe, “Tribal History.” Gabrielino Tribe.