This section provides a brief introduction to the term “Fernandeño,” as it relates to the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (Band). Fernandeño is a post-Mission term that incorporates four pre-Mission Indian groups described below.  This section includes an explanation of the pre-Mission peoples (according to their associated territories), linguistic terms, and the difference between those recruited at Mission San Fernando and Mission San Gabriel. The maps illustrate the evolution of Fernandeño territory, as described by anthropologists in the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Fernandeño: Regional Terms

“Fernandeño” (or “Fernandiño”) is a Spanish regional term representing the people of four diverse territories enslaved during the Mission San Fernando period. J.P. Harrington archives Fernandeño Takic terms, one of the many languages spoken among the Indians of Mission San Fernando, for the four related, yet culturally diverse, territories prior to the Mission period. Using Pasekivitam, the people of the villages of San Fernando, the Mission, and the basin of the valley, as a central point of reference would position Tatavitam as the people of the region north of Pasekivitam, Simivitam as the western people inhabiting Simi Valley in territories south of Tatavitam, and the Vanyume as the most eastern groups encompassing Antelope Valley (Harrington 1916 Reel #106). The Tatavitam, Pasekivitam, and Vanyume maintained slightly distinct Takic languages, while the people of Simi Valley and coastal areas were members of the Chumashan language. There are several alternative names that represent ethnic (tribal) perspectives for the words recorded by both the Spanish priests and Harrington, but the general rule stands with four important Takic suffixes: –vit,-pet,-bit, or –bet refer to one person or lineage, -am is plural and can convert one person (-vit) to multiple people (-vitam), and -nga is a locative reference. Language types and marital patterns did not determine political or national organization among the pre-mission Fernandeños. They exercised power over territory, self-government, a judicial system, and upheld a network of social, economic and political ties to other lineages over an extensive area. Each village location recorded on the Tribal Ancestral Map (see below) is a lineage of which Fernandeño Tataviam tribal citizens are linked to (villages are referred to as village-lineages hereafter). The lineages continued as the major form of social and political organization through the Mission period, and are the primary form of indigenous organization among the present-day descendants of the Fernandeños.

 Fernandeño and Gabrieleño: The Difference

Although the Fernandeño and Gabrieleño are linguistically related, they represent two geographical areas that shall not be confused, or interchanged, with one another. Sivavitam, the people of Los Angeles Basin, are known as the Gabrieleños during the Mission period. The people of Mission San Gabriel, Gabrieleños, referred to the Fernandeños as Pavasikwar, which exemplifies the separate native identities associated with the two post-Mission era names. Additionally, the Fernandeños referred to the Gabrieleños inhabiting areas further east of the Los Angeles Basin as Komivitam, or the people in the Eastern portion of San Gabriel Valley, which further established a line between the two mission-associated regional terminologies.


1925: Alfred L. Kroeber

Map from Alfred L. Kroeber's Handbook of the Indians of California (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1925)
Map from Alfred L. Kroeber’s Handbook of the Indians of California (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1925)

1968: Theodora Kroeber

Map of Fernandeño/Alliklik territory
Map of Fernandeño/Alliklik territory (Almost Ancestors: The First Californians by Kroeber; 1968) Note: Alliklik , which meant “grunters”, was how the Chumash identified the Shoshonean people in upper Santa Clara Valley of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, also known as the Tatavitam

2004: Northwest Economic Associates and Chester King

Chester King 2004 Map of Settlements Recruited at San Fernando and San Gabriel Missions in Relation to the Angeles National Forest
(NEA and King 2004)
Map of Settlements Recruited at San Fernando and San Gabriel Missions in Relation to the Angeles National Forest

Current: by NAHC to define Languages

Map defining LANGUAGE barriers. Unfortunately, this map is used by the state (Native American Heritage Commission) to delineate tribal territories, which is inaccurate.

Los Angeles County Villages Map 

Los Angeles County Villages (2015)
Los Angeles County Villages (2015)

The Band’s Map

Tataviam Tribal Territory Map 2015
Tataviam Tribal Territory Map 2015