Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moomat Ahiko

This is a sign I see every day on my daily commute. Moomat Ahiko. It's just this little access road in Santa Monica that leads from Ocean Avenue to Pacific Coast Highway.

You know how it is. First you learn the route. Then you repeat it. Then you sit in traffic and see the same things, day after day. Every day I sit at a red light, waiting to turn onto Moomat Ahiko Way. start wondering. What the heck does Moomat Ahiko mean? Where'd it come from?

I first wondered if it was named after someone. So many streets are named after people, or named by real estate developers for people they care about. Was Moomat Ahiko a citizen of Santa Monica who deserved this honor?

If so, who was Moomat Ahiko, anyway? "Ahiko" almost sounds like a Japanese name, but "Moomat" sounds as if it were Persian, maybe, or Middle Eastern. Was Moomat Ahiko a distinguished citizen of Santa Monica who happened to be of Persian-Japanese descent?

The canny commuter carries a pad of Post-It notes in her car. I jotted down my thoughts until the light changed, and then at home I Googled Moomat Ahiko.

Turns out this little access road was named "Moomat Ahiko Way" by vote of the Santa Monica City Council on March 9, 2004, chosen from ninety-seven suggestions submitted by citizens. The phrase means "Breath of the Ocean" in the Tongva language - the language of the native inhabitants of the place that became Santa Monica.

And one certainly does get a breath of the ocean while stopped at the traffic light, just south of the Pier, waiting to turn and merge with the traffic on Pacific Coast Highway. If you roll your windows down, at least.

What new and fascinating facts are there for you to discover, on your daily commute?


JCK said...

Great story. Love the meaning.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Thanks for the story. I was going to say that I don't remember THAT street, but I moved in 1998, and the change was 2004. What was it named before? See that building in the background of your photo? I may or may not have almost had sex with someone in that building. Just saying.

Mo said...

Oh Wow! How interesting. :)

pimugirl said...

So...suddenly Moomat Ahiko, our beloved ti'at, has become somewhat of a phenomenon in popular culture. We are currently preparing for the upcoming HONORING THE SEA CEREMONY, Sept 28th, 2008....a spectacular ceremony that will be well attended (expected 4000 or more!). The irony is that as we launch the offerings from international delegations into the waters of Santa Monica, we are just blocks from a recently renamed street...MOOMAT AHIKO WAY. Amazing, just amazing. As Ti'at Society, the community who has the Moomat Ahiko, we have no part in this process. Suddenly, one day, while driving to Malibu, I take the turn off to get to PCH North and there it is, big as life...Moomat Ahiko Drive. A unique indigenous presence in the midst of the contemporary Southern California. Go ahead, try a GOOGLE Search. Read the blogs and curiosity of the citizens who all speculate as to what this means. Moomat Tongva (not Chumash)...means Breath (or wind) of the Ocean. It is the name of our Ti'at (plank canoe) who was born in 1994 (the only Tongva plank canoe in the world). She represents an amazing renewal of a cultural tradition that was believed to be extinct by scientist and others. She came to us in our dreamtime in the 80s, evidence of genetic memory. She will be on the beach at the World Festival of Sacred Music on sunday, Sept. 28th at the HONORING OF THE SEA Ceremony. We begin at 3 until sunset. We are on the beach at the end of Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica (south of SM Pier and just north of Venice Beach). Come join us...

g said...

pimugirl, I'm sorry I didn't read your comment until today, and I missed your ceremony. I hope it was well attended, and successful, and that your celebration went well. thank you for commenting on my blog.