LA RIVER: SIUTCANGAFatehi2021-10-19T14:48:25-07:00
A Village of the Los Angeles River
Whose land are you on?
Welcome to our homelands of northern Los Angeles county. You have landed on this page through a barcode located on a sign along a portion of the orit (Los Angeles River) that is historically important to our Tribe, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
We encourage you to learn more about us, the First Peoples of lands on which you stand on. Help us honor our water and village ahead, now called Encino and from which we were forcibly evicted in the early years of California's statehood.
Can you spot these along the LA River?
Speak Fernandeño Tataviam with us!
English | Fernandeño Tataviam | Phonetic
sycamore | sevér | seh-ver
oak tree | sevíyi | seh-veh-yee
tule | píru | pee-doo
elderberry | kwúr | kword
grass | mamáhar | mah-mah-hard
ground squirrel | huŋít | hoong-it
dog | wisiʔ | wee-see
coyote | ítar | ee-tar
which means "the Place of the Oaks." Encino is the Spanish word for Siutcanga.
Siutcanga was a large village that contained a fresh water source for the people of the village, who we call Siutcavitam. Today, the Siutcavitam are enrolled in the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
The Native name of Encino is
Over 70% of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians descend from Siutcanga through an ancestor who was recruited from Siutcanga to Mission San Fernando, where the ancestor was enslaved and received a baptismal record.
We honor the legacy of Maria Rita Alipaz Ortega, a progenitor of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. Maria was the daughter of the land grant recipient of Rancho Encino, Francisco Papabubaba (b. 1806), and his wife Paula Cayo (b. 1813), whose lineage originated at Siutcanga.
Antonio Maria Ortega ca. 1940s, San Fernando. Antonio was the son of Maria Rita Alipaz Ortega, the progenitor of the Ortega lineage and caretaker of Rancho Encino in the Mexican and American period before dispossession.
Maria's father Francisco, along with two other natives Roque and Roman, petitioned for a deed to one square league of Rancho Encino, his wife's village. Jointly, they received 4,460 acres of Rancho Encino on July 24, 1845.
Maria eventually inherited joint ownership of Rancho Encino. At just 24 years old, she fought to protect the Mexican land grant in State court, decades before women were given the right to vote and in a time of a state and federally funded campaign to exterminate Native peoples.
Though Maria was ultimately dispossessed by an ex-Los Angeles Town Councilman, her legacy lives on through her descendants who are citizens of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
Enslavement at Mission San Fernando by the Spanish drastically changed the daily lives of our ancestors, who would later be called Fernandeños after their forced baptisms at the Mission. Families were separated, children were married off, sacred sites were demolished, culture was suppressed, traditional ways of life were destroyed, food sources were removed by environmental degradation from invasive species, and the Fernandeños were massacred through Spanish-brought disease, hunger, violence, and slavery.
In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain and California fell under the jurisdiction of the First Mexican Empire. Under Mexican rule, our village Siutcanga became known as Rancho Encino. After the Missions were secularized by Mexico, 41 surviving Fernandeño leaders and several other Fernandeños constituting the historical Fernandeño Indian Tribe negotiated for and received several land grants amounting to over 18,000 acres held in trust by the Mexican government. These land grants included Ex-Mission San Fernando lands, Rancho El Escorpion (Chatsworth), Rancho Encino (Encino), Rancho Cahuenga (Burbank), and Rancho Tujunga (Tujunga), and were meant to be preserved in the American period under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
However, land in northern Los Angeles County, particularly areas with natural water sources such as the villages and land grants, became extraordinarily valuable, and the local state courts were against our ancestors’ claims to the land, which made it impossible for the San Fernando Mission Indian defendants to affirm rights to land that would have formed the foundation for a reservation.
Despite a Supreme Court case, our ancestors were dispossessed of the land during the early users of an American controlled California.
Our people believe that water is kin. Our stories tell us that water is sacred and limited; we take only what is needed. Our ancestors maintained a thousands-year old practice of caretaking for water so that our animal and plant relatives could also thrive. In unlivable conditions, water was life. It provided us with what we needed to survive.
The exploitation of water by settlers is central to Fernandeño Tataviam land dispossession. Our villages, which have always been located near a natural water source, were re-mapped into Mexican land grants, and by 1845, several thousand acres were transferred to Native title.
Our families maintained Siutcanga for thousands of years. Yet, the natural spring on the property made the land attractive to a local settler who owned a nearby land grant and was looking to expand his claims. Like all land grants that were held by our ancestors, Siutcanga, or Rancho Encino, was stolen from our title within the first few years of California’s statehood due to the presence of a natural water source. In the era of state and federally funded killings of California tribes, our ancestors had no legal protections under American law and could not read or write a word of English, and yet, spent decades fighting in local state courts to regain title to their homelands to no avail.
Today, you can view the sacred water spring from Ventura Boulevard looking towards Los Encinos State Historic Park. water
our kin, our relative
About the Tribe
The distinct community of the present-day Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (“the Tribe”) originated in the lineages, villages and cultures of the period preceding the establishment of Mission San Fernando (“Mission SFR”), from which the natives received the name Fernandeño. Mission SFR was established on September 8, 1797 at the village of Achoicominga and, for years following, enslaved Native Americans from the lineages in the geographically surrounding areas, ranging from present-day Simi Valley, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, and Antelope Valley. Today, the Tribe consists of a voluntary coalition of those lineages bound together by a Tribal constitution. Visit the Tribe’s interactive timeline.
Land Acknowledgment by the Los Angeles River Master Plan
“ We gratefully acknowledge that the Los Angeles River and its watershed are the traditional, unceded lands of the Tongva, Tataviam, and Chumash, members of the Takic and Chumashan language families; who made their homes in and around the areawe now call Los Angeles. We recognized that Indigenous Peoples have stewarded this land for thousands of years, many of whom still call it home today, and we give thanks for the opportunity to live, work and learn on their traditional homelands. As settlers and guests, we recognized our responsibility and obligation to care for their land.”