Genetic Memory

'Genetic Memory' is a poem by Jessa Calderon about the Tongva people their relationship with water and land.

Do you remember when the groves of oaks provided a way of life,

When the Los Angeles river flowed clear and drinkable,

When salmon flowed upstream through the river, 

When the grizzly bear ate the salmon and the Berries on a beautiful breezy day,

When the Tongva People paddled in their Fresh water boats,

When neighbors paddled upstream and downstream to visit,

When the fresh water springs were walking distance from home,

When the hot water springs were freely shared and cherished, 

Long before Houselessness and poverty were ever an idea,

Long before our water springs were capped off by corporate entities such as water and power, 

Long before the Grizzly bear was shot to extinction in California 

Long before the invasion and devastation of the Mission system, Mexico and America,

Long before grocery stores and fast food were the main food source,

My genetic memory remembers when

Los Angeles County and Neighboring areas were abundant with clean drinkable water

When cultural maintenance was practiced with connection and love with the earth,

When the soil was healthy

When Tongva people and their Neighbors gathered together to sing, laugh and eat good food for days during ceremony,

When one could take a walk outside their home and gather food and herbs directly from the land,

I often hear people say we’ll be devastated if the economy collapses, but my genetic memory tells me that the land, the water, the plant people, the animal people, the insect people, and Traditional stewards of the land, the Indigenous people have been and continue to be devastated by the economy.