DEI Spotlight

In early 2021, the City of Irvine passed a resolution reaffirming Irvine's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our City and subsequently formed an Ad-hoc Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The committee's first campaign, “We Are Irvine,” aims to embrace and celebrate diversity and foster an environment that is inclusive of all cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, perspectives, and ways of thinking. 

This webpage is an arm of the We Are Irvine campaign and will be updated regularly to reflect the current and upcoming celebrations and observances of our community members and residents. 

Native American Heritage Month & Day of the Dead

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of native tribes in Orange County and indigenous people worldwide. Native American Heritage Month is also a good time to learn about tribes and raise awareness about the unique challenges Native Americans have faced, both historically and in the present, as well as the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

The original inhabitants of Orange County and the surrounding areas are the Gabrieleño (or Gabrielino) Indians and the Juaneño Indians. The Gabrieleño were given this name by the Spanish, because they were named after the San Gabriel Mission, but they call themselves Tongva. The Juaneño, named by the Spanish after the San Juan Capistrano Mission, call themselves Acjachemen.

You can learn more about these Native American people at the links below:

Gabrielino-Tongva Website

Acjachemen Website

Local Artifacts

Portola Springs Community Center, located at 900 Tomato Springs, features a Native American Wing. The area houses cultural and historical artifacts which pay homage to the Native American tribes who once inhabited the Portola Springs area.  

Just outside the community center, nearby trails are home to native plants like the coastal prickly pear which has been known to be a food and medicine source for Native Americans, as well as a source of needles, containers and water. 

Visit the Portola Springs Community Center to view the artifacts. The center is open Monday–Friday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Sunday: Noon–6 p.m.

Dia de los Muertos

Although Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated widely throughout Latin American countries, its roots trace back to indigenous traditions. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human cycle of life where, for three days, the dead return and are once again part of the community. Altars and offerings are put out to help awaken the deceased from their sleep and share in the celebration with their families and loved ones. In the state of Guerrero, Mexico, the Tlapaneca People offer their deceased adults mole, tamales, and mezcal as offerings. In Veracruz, Mexico, the Totonac peoples consider the altar a small world: earth is represented by the flowers and vegetation, water is placed under the altar, the sky is made out of tepejilote leaves, and the sun is made with coyol palm leaves.

Past Celebrations

Learn more about past celebrations and observances of our diverse community members and residents by clicking the links below.