San Gabriel's new high school will be the first public building in the state to honor the Gabrielino Indians.
A tribal council meeting in San Gabriel erupted in cheers Sunday when the acting chief of the Gabrielinos unveiled a sign proclaiming "Gabrielino High School."
"It's a great honor for our tribe. Many of those at Sunday's meeting were elders who'd struggled for decades to gain recognition for our tribe," said Anthony Morales, acting chief.
School district officials announced Saturday that residents voted to name the school after the Gabrielinos instead of Thomas Jefferson by a 327-241 vote. Traditionally, the district's schools have been named after former Presidents.
"This is a major step for the indigenous people of this region," Morales said.
More than 700 Gabrielinos live throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties, the majority in West San Gabriel Valley. The Gabrielinos, part of the Shoshone Nation, met Spanish settlers in 1760s and built the San Gabriel Mission in 1771, taking the name given them by the missionaries.
Gabrielino High School will be an a expanded version of Jefferson Intermediate School. Freshman classes will begin at the site in September, 1994, and classes for additional students will be added. San Gabriel high school students now attend Alhambra schools.
The Board of Education will decide Dec. 10 whether to put a $29-million bond measure on the ballot in April to finance the construction. A similar measure failed in March.
Students will get to choose a mascot in a few months. Morales said animals revered by the Gabrielinos include the eagle, the bear and especially the dolphin, which they see as the "caretaker of the world."