For Immediate Release: 11/30/2023
Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe Signs Historic Agreement with California State Parks
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California State Parks and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (Tribe) today announced a historic agreement to formalize their cooperation and collaboration in the management and protection of natural and cultural resources and interpretation for state parks within the Tribe’s ancestral lands. They will collaborate on interpretation at the state parks, including for the Village of Siutcanga, incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into the management of natural resources, and cooperate on the protection of the landscapes.
The signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) took place Wednesday, November 29, at Siutcanga, the “place of the oaks,” now known as Los Encinos SHP in Encino, California. The park is a significant Tribal cultural area with over 70% of citizens descending from the village. The Tribe is a native sovereign nation of northern Los Angeles County composed of a coalition of lineages originating in the Santa Clarita, Simi, San Fernando, and Antelope Valleys.
Below are the statements made by the Tribe and California State Parks Director:
Rudy Ortega Jr., Tribe president and descendant of Siutcanga (Los Encinos State Historic Park): “180 years ago, my great grandmother stood here defending this village from settlers. Fifty years ago, my father stood here defending our cultural resources from a construction project. For the first time since colonization, I stand here in celebration of a monumental moment: an agreement that sees us as a Tribal government, but more importantly, as People.”
Beverly Folkes, vice chair, council of elders, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians: “We are filled with joy for this collaboration with our California State Parks partners that coordinates access to state lands for our ceremonies, medicine plant gathering, and recreation. When you spend time on land that is undisturbed by development and where our ancestors once lived, you feel their presence and a sense of freedom. Los Encinos in particular, the land where my grandfather and great grandmother lived is of special importance to me as I feel closer to my relatives knowing I’m walking on land where my ancestors once stepped.”
Armando Quintero, State Parks Director--“California’s state parks are places that protect not only the incredible landscapes of California but serve as a reminder of the deep human history of these lands stretching into time immemorial. The rich and diverse cultures of the earliest ancestors of these lands are alive today in the cultures, traditions, and languages of the Fernandeño Tataviam people. Today, we celebrate the history and the future of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians Tribe with the signing of this MOU. We live in a California where we should all thrive."
This is the 10th MOU State Parks has with a California Native American Tribe. The department’s Tribal MOU program seeks to facilitate collaboration between California Native American tribes and State Parks by establishing protocols for continuous open discussions and outlining the responsibilities of each party to promote successful cooperation and partnership. To learn more about the program, please visit parks.ca.gov/TribalMOUProgram.
Top left: Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) President Rudy Ortega Jr. and Vice President Mark Villaseñor open the MOU signing event with a Welcome Song. Top right: FTBMI President Rudy Ortega Jr. and State Parks Director Armando Quintero shake hands after the signing. Bottom left: Beverly Folkes, vice chair, council of elders, FTBMI, speaks at the ceremony. Bottom right: Rudy Ortega Jr., Armando Quintero, Beverly Folks, and other tribal representatives, along with the Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps Members in attendance.
Representatives of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and State Parks staff. Photos from California State Parks.
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