Three Sisters Garden at Our Community School in Chatsworth

After months of hard work and planning, the Three Sisters Garden at Our Community School in Chatsworth was planted by students on Tuesday, June 12th. Parent volunteers arrived early to finish the prep for the garden (involving watering, digging mounds, weeding and fertilizing the area). The school was then honored to receive Rudy Ortega, Mark Villasenor and Kat High, representing the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center.

Erin Riley, proprietor of Hope Gardens and parent volunteer who was the founding vision behind the Three Sisters Garden, had this to say:

“As the garden coordinator for Our Community School, it has been my dream to have the entire school participate in a 3 Sisters Native American Garden. I could handle the actual planting but with the historical perspective I needed support. I wished for the students to have a genuine cultural experience. It was an absolute joy to have Rudy Ortega and his associates visit the school and so enrich the kids’ 3 Sisters gardening experience with their expertise and gift of song.”

Parent volunteers and teachers escorted classes and different grades to the garden to plant the corn, pole bean and pumpkin seeds, tag them and water them. Chris Ferris, principal of the school, said this about the presentation:

“I think having the tribal members at the school talking, singing, and also wearing normal clothes was a great eye opener for some of the children in the school who think of Native Americans as being people from long ago who wear feathered head-dresses. It was a great experience to break down stereotypes and develop a relationship with the native community in our area. I hope we can work together more next year.”

Our Community School (OCS) is a public San Fernando Valley charter school. Situated on a beautiful campus in Chatsworth, California, the school serves elementary (K-7) students. OCS will be adding eighth grade in the 2012-2013 school year.

Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center, located in the Angeles National Forest, provides a place where the Native American community can educate visitors about the inter-relationship of Native American culture, environment, spirituality, heritage, and history at a traditional gathering place of the Five Tribes of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians’ ancestral lands stretches across the northern part of Los Angeles County, from the San Fernando Valley through the Antelope Valley. The Tataviam people have continued to maintain a tribal government since time immemorial.

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Nature, History to Share Spotlight at New Vasquez Center

By Katalin Szabolcsi 
SCVHistory.com | June 21, 2012

Four decades in the making, it is finally happening: An Interpretive Center is being built at Vasquez Rocks County Park. It is expected to be open later this year.

“The establishment of the Vasquez Rocks Interpretive Center is a major milestone for those of us who appreciate and study the natural history and the history of the upper Santa Clara Valley area,” said Albert Knight, a renowned Southern California archaeologist. “Local residents, students of all ages and visitors will all have the opportunity to look, learn and be inspired, in a comfortable setting, by the bountiful resources of the region.”

Vasquez Rocks is the most archaeologically rich park in the Los Angeles County park system. Its boundaries contain several prehistoric human occupation sites, and of course the legend of its namesake, Tiburcio Vasquez. It is also home to a large range of archetypal Southern California flora and fauna.

In the early 1970s another Southland archaeologist, Chester King, performed extensive work at Vasquez Rocks and suggested a museum or interpretive center be erected to protect and promote the area’s historical wealth.

Twenty years passed before county officials started the ball rolling. In the mid-1990s the first funding was earmarked for the project, much to the joy of Art Brewer, a member of the Vasquez Rocks Nature Center Associates who had also advocated the construction of a museum dedicated to the park’s native American history.

Brewer, of Agua Dulce, had a large collection of artifacts found on private properties in the area and hoped his collection would one day be displayed at Vasquez Rocks.

He didn’t live to see the construction of the building he fought for, but his daughter, Sarah, carried on the family tradition.

“Although I wish more than anything my dad could have seen this center,” Sarah Brewer said, “I feel that now is the right time for it to finally be built. The original designs for the building were made with love, but they would not have been nearly as efficient as this building.”

The facility will be Los Angeles County’s most environmentally “secure-proof” project, according to Kaye Michelson, a special assistant with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

“This building is the first LEED Platinum (building) to be constructed by Los Angeles County,” Michelson said. “It will be sustainable and environmentally sensitive.”

Platinum is the highest level of “green” construction as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Brewer is clearly a fan of the building’s design.

“This building has the perfect amount of style and modernity while maintaining a cohesiveness with the surroundings,” she said. “I think that once it is complete, it is really going to shine.”

Michelson said the project is funded with $1.27 million from a 1996 state parks bond fund, $109,000 in leftover funds from a 1986 state bond, $3.5 million from county utility users taxes, $1.03 million from vehicle license fees and $3.795 million budgeted by the county last year for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s Fifth District.

Construction started a year ago.

“The stumbling blocks for the Interpretive Center have been many and are very emotional,” said Brewer. “This is a very passionate community, and although it is rather complicated, all I can say is that everyone has a different opinion on the center, which has made it a long road to where it stands now.”

Designs were completed by Brooks+Scarpa Architects, and Brewer said the architects and construction contractors worked closely with the Agua Dulce community. Two years ago the Agua Dulce Town Council appointed a committee to serve as a liaison between the council and the designers and builders. Brewer said the two companies have been “tremendously responsive” to the community’s suggestions.

“I was lucky to be a part of this committee,” Brewer said, “and we have some really great people on this team. The builders and designers have walked us through, step by step, the design process of this building, and I have a great deal of respect for them because this is a very close-knit community that is very particular about how things are done. That is part of what has kept Agua Dulce the rural gem that it is.”

The Interpretive Center will be located near the entrance of the park, just west of the old ranger station, which has been restored and will serve as the park staff office, Michelson said.

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Tataviam Dental Care

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians is pleased to announce the launch of Free Dental Care to Native Americans in Los Angeles County. The dental care program is through a partnership with Western University of Health Sciences/College of Dental Medicine.

Tataviam Dental Care provides patient education, prevention and general dentistry for adults and children of all ages. Children should begin visiting a dentist between the ages of one and two years to start preventive dental care. The Tataviam Dental Care program is being offered at Rudy Ortega Sr. Heritage Park in the City of San Fernando and is available to all American Indians in the Los Angeles County.

The following are some of the services offered:

  • General dentistry for children and adults, including pregnant women and elders
  • Prevention and pediatric dental services for children, ages 6 months – 18 years
  • Exams and x-rays
  • Cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatment
  • Fillings and extractions
  • Oral Cancer Screenings
  • Oral Hygiene Instruction and Patient Education

To make an Appointment, please contact Michael Ortega, project coordinator at mortega@tataviam-nsn.us or (661) 492-9932.

Tribal Elders visit Burro Flats painted caves

In April 2010 the Tribal Historic and Cultural Preservation committee, working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), organized two tours to visit the Burro Flats painted caves. The Burro Flats caves is an historical site that was used to celebrate the winter solstice.

“The trip was emotionally uplifting experience. I can see and feel the life my ancestors lived on this beautiful land, it brought back memories of my loved ones who told me so many stories growing up.” said Tribal elder Kathryn Sarenana.

Blessing of the Santa Clarita Cross Valley Connector

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians performed the opening blessing of the Grand Opening of the Cross Valley Connector on March 27, 2010 for the City of Santa Clarita. Fellow by the Mayor Laurene Weste cutting the ribbon, joined by council members Ender, Ferry, Kellar and McLean, and Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon.

Tribal Administrator Rudy Ortega Jr. and Issac Gonzalez (tribal member) performed the blessing with a traditional Tataviam song surrounded by audience of hundreds.

Park named after Tribal Leader

Last July, Rudy Ortega Sr., who led the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians for over five decades, passed away. Following his death, the City of San Fernando dedicated its new Heritage Park to him. The dedication ceremony for Rudy Ortega Sr. Park is slated for the fall of 2010.

The land of park was once owned and occupied by Rogerio Rocha until death. Rocha was tribal captain of Fernandeño people and was successful in securing ten acres of land in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Much like most of California Indian lands, Rocha lost his property due to the deceptive practices of local businessmen.