The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians consists a coalition of lineages, and represents the continuity of the regional pattern of politically-independent lineages related through selected intermarriage and regional ceremonial participation. This coalition consists of three principle lineages traditionally known as Siutcabit, Tujubit, and Cabuepet.
As the lineage members were forced to speak English in the late 19th Century, they adopted the surname of their lineage leader. Today, these three lineages are known as the Ortega lineage (representing ancestor Maria Rita Alipas Ortega), the Garcia lineage (representing ancestor Josephine Leyvas Garcia), and the Ortiz lineage (representing ancestor Joseph Ortiz). In 2019, approximately 900 citizens are enrolled with the Tribe.
The name “Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians” is the overarching name of the coalition. This name includes both the Mission association (Fernandeño) and an ancestral name (Tataviam).
Fernandeño: The Tribe uses Fernandeño as an all-encompassing term to represent the native people of diverse territories who were forced into indentured servitude by Mission San Fernando during the Spanish period. The Tribe uses the term “regional groups” to represent a group of politically independent lineages where people spoke one or more dialects of a language, but did not create a new political entity. There is no political entity above the lineage. The regional groups associated with Mission SFR are the Tataviam, Kaivitam, Sivavitam, Mohineyam, Chumash, Atsōkajam, Kitanemuk, Pipimaram, and Akwakwajam. To reiterate, these regional groups were not tribes.
Tataviam: Tataviam is the name given to the peoples who occupied the area just south of Kitanemuk (Tejon Indian Tribe) Country. This is a Kitanemuk word for the “people facing the sun.” Tataviam is only one of the several regional groups enrolled with, and represented by, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
The house, or Ki´j, is a dome-shaped framework of willow in a circle. This structure represents a permanent family dwelling. The frame consists of willow poles, which were bent in at the top, to form a dome. Smaller saplings or branches were tied on cross-wise. To cover the outside, bulrush or cattails were added for thatching. A hole was left in the top, which was covered with a hide when it rained, and allowed for the smoke from the fire pit in the center of the Ki´j to escape. A typical Ki´j is between 12 to 20 feet in diameter.
The ancestors ate acorns, yucca, juniper berries, sage seeds and islay, and they hunted small game. Jimsonweed, native tobacco and other plants found along the local rivers and streams provided raw materials for baskets cordage and netting.