Turtle Tale

“The Turtle Tale,” is a Native American story of how earthquakes occur told by storyteller and University of Southern California alumna, Jacque Tahuka-Nunez (tribal descendant of the Acjachemen Nation), and captured on video by the interns of the Southern California Earthquake Center’s Undergraduate Studies in Earthquake Information Technology program (UseIT). “The Turtle Tale” comes from the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, a California Indian Tribe also known as the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians. The video is intended to be an informational and educational tool for those interested in local Native American earthquake legends.

Storyteller: Jacque Tahuka-Nunez
Song: Gabrielino-Tongva Ancestor Song

Musician/Singer: Virginia Carmelo (Gabrielino-Tongva tribal member)

Filmed and edited by: David Bolen, Jonathan Ho, Ben Anderson (SCEC UseIT Interns)

Set Design: Ed Nunez, Lawrence Garcia

Executive Producers: Dr. Robert de Groot, Helen Corral-Bonner

Special Thanks: Sherman Indian High School

A production of Southern California Earthquake Center.

For information and questions regarding the video, please contact:
Robert-Michael de Groot, Ph.D.
Coordinator for Communication, Education, Outreach, and Technical Engagement
ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning System
USGS Earthquake Science Center
Email: rdegroot@usgs.gov
Phone: 626-583-7225

Website: ShakeAlert.org

A special thanks to Jacque Tahuka-Nunez, our storyteller. After attending USC, Jacque was an elementary school teacher for 17 years. Currently, she is the director of Journeys to the Past, an organization which seeks to educate and enlighten others to our precious culture while encouraging them to capture their own heritage.

To learn more about Jacque and Journeys to the Past, please click here.


Activity Page
An interactive lesson plan for teaching the theory of plate tectonics

Additional Resources

To learn more about the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe, please visit these sites. All provide information about the history, culture, and current happenings of the tribe.



The Sherman Indian High School, located in Riverside, is a comprehensive high school that seeks to meet the needs of Native American youth. It has been accredited as a secondary school and accepts applications from students across the country.

Located on the Sherman Indian High School campus is the Sherman Indian Museum. It features various cultural exhibits and activities as well as numerous school events.

Finally, the Autry National Center of the American West is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West. Located in Griffith Park, the Autry’s collection of over 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts, including the collection of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, located in Mt. Washington, which is one of the largest and most significant in the United States.

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