The citizens of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (Tribe) are the people of northern Los Angeles County. After thousands of years, foreign powers began colonization in the late 1770s with the arrival of the Spanish followed by the establishment of Mexico and the United States. Despite settler colonization, the Tribe continues to operate as a tribal community.

The Tribe originates in the lineages, villages, and cultures of the period that came before the establishment of Mission San Fernando in 1797, from which their ancestors received the name Fernandeño during enslavement by the Spanish. The Native Americans that were taken to the Mission originally inhabited the villages originating in the Simi, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, and Antelope Valleys. After the Mission period, they became known as the Fernandeño historical Indian tribe. The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians is comprised of the descendants of that historical tribe of Fernandeños.



The Historical Timeline is an interactive timeline designed to provide important dates of the the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians community and history from time immemorial to present. Please note that this is not, and is not intended to be, an all-encompassing history of the Tribe.

  • Time Immemorial

    Creation stories tie the Tribe to the land since time immemorial. Before settlers arrived, the village organization structure in Southern California was unique in that there was no single leader that ruled over all the villages. Instead, each village was an autonomous self-governing entity that had its own structure of leadership, cultural practices, economy and territory. To strengthen economic and social relations with villages outside of their own, the members of a village practiced exogamy and thus, spoke the languages and dialects that existed at the neighboring villages.

    *Drawing by Tribal Citizen Larry Ortega.

  • 450 C.E.

    Creation stories tie our ancestors to the land since time immemorial. Anthropologists have dated the migration of our ancestors from a Takic speaking group of the Northern Uto-Aztecan language speakers. Archaeological evidence suggests that the ancestors settled in villages throughout the northern Los Angeles County area around 450 C.E..

  • Spanish Settlement

    Historical Tribe of Fernandeños emerged from the Mission San Fernando. Mission San Fernando was established on September 8, 1797 and for the years following, enslaved natives from the geographically surrounding regions of Simi Valley, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley, and parts of the Angeles National Forest. Enslavement at Mission San Fernando by the Spanish drastically changed the daily lives of the Native Americans who would be called Fernandeños.

  • Survival & Resistance

    Fernandeños continue to practice their culture and ceremonies, even with the threat of punishment by the Padres. In 1813, at Mission San Fernando, the padres reported:

    “The Indians respect only those who were the chiefs of their rancherias in paganism; They still preserve the customs of their forefathers….The Indians are inclined to idolatry; for it is observed that in their race-courses they make a great circle, in the center of which they raise a pole covered with bundles of feathers from the crow and adorned with beads. As many as pass the pole pay homage to it, and returning round about blow to the four winds, thus asking relief of their necessities.” (Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt, 1927)

  • Mexican Secularization the missions

    The new Mexican republic was determined to remove the natives and the mission property from the control of the Franciscan missionaries. The Secularization Act of 1834 gave Mission land and the right to organize electoral village governments to the Fernandeños. At this time, approximately 541 Fernandeños, of the original 300,000, were still alive and laborers at Mission San Fernando.

  • Land in Trust

    Fernandeños petition for and receive over 18,000 acres of land. After the Missions were secularized by Mexico, approximately 50 surviving Fernandeño leaders negotiated for and received several land grants amounting to over 18,000 acres (10% of the San Fernando Valley) that were held in trust by the Mexican government. These land grants included Rancho El Escorpion (Chatsworth), Rancho Encino (Encino), Rancho Cahuenga (Burbank), and Rancho Tujunga (Tujunga), and were meant to be preserved in the American period.

  • Last Alcalde at Mission SFR

    The last alcalde was elected. After June 1846, San Fernando Mission ceased to exist as an institution for the enslavement of natives. The Mission was repurposed into Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando, a farming and grazing enterprise.

  • American Settlement

    California became an U.S. holding with the Treaty of Guadalupe, which ended the Mexican War. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided a legal basis for the protection of land and continuity of self-government among the Fernandeños. The administration of Governor Pico, however, ignored the secularization regulations, and sold the mission assets and land, though he did confirm some land grants given to Fernandeños.

  • Porter & Maclay v. Cota et al.

    Historic Land Case: Porter et al v. Cota et al.. On June 1, 1876, a group of Fernandeños and married relations purposely occupied their homelands land to test land title. They were taken to court by ex-Senator Charles Maclay. In 1878, the judge, a relative of Maclay, reaffirmed Maclay’s rights to the land. As result, the Fernandeños were evicted from their homelands.

  • U.S. Attorney Represents Fernandeños

    In 1885, U.S. Special Attorney for Mission Indians, Guilford Wiley Wells represented Rogerio Rocha/the Fernandeños in an official government capacity to prevent the Tribe's eviction from Indian land. On November 2, 1885, Wells’ petition on behalf of Rogerio Rocha and co-owners’ land interests was denied in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

  • Federal Recognition of Tribe

    Federal Agent assists the Fernandeños.

    Frank D. Lewis, the Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for Mission Indians, recognized the Fernandeños directly. The Special Attorney for Mission Indians pursued a solution for the Fernandeños at San Fernando through the length of his tenure until 1897.

  • Fernandeño schoolchildren

    Many Fernandeño Tataviam children attend the San Fernando Grammar School, where the white and Indian students were separated.

  • Not Extinct

    Ancestor Juan Jose Fustero is incorrectly labeled "the Last Tataviam Indian" by settlers.

  • Captain Antonio Maria Ortega

    Ethnologist J.P. Harrington's notes on June 9, 1933 state: Martin Feliz says that Antonio Maria Ortega is still alive at San Fernando and 90 years old, talks indian. He will ask him some Indian words. Antonio feared that publicly identifying as Indian would lead to the Fernandeños’ removal from traditional lands and onto reservations. This same year, Fernandeños are enlisted in military service abroad and identify as “Indian” on their military cards.

  • Indian Census Roll

    Applying under the Census Roll of the Indians of California Under the Act of May 18, 1928 (“CRIC”), Tribe members were recognized as Indians by the not only the government officials who approved their applications, but by individuals who supplied supporting affidavits. Their applications ask who their Captain was in 1850, to which they responded “Rogerio Rocha.”

  • Federal Verification

    On June 17, 1932 the Bureau of Indian Affairs Sacramento Indian Agency seeks verification of Fernandeño community members from Juan Olivas at Tejon Ranch.

  • U.S. Army

    Many Fernandeño Tataviam families enlisted in the U.S. Army.

  • Cultural Presentations

    With the rise of American Indian activism, the Tribe became more publicly active in their educational programming and events which increased their visibility in the press.

  • Tribal Funeral Book

    In a funeral book for a Tribal Captain Eulogio Ortega, signatures show the broad cross-section of attendees and how funerals were important cultural events attended by many of the Tribe’s different lineages. The relationships revealed in the guestbook extend across many generations and families.

  • BIA visits FTBMI

    The San Fernando Mission Indians of San Fernando, led by Captain Ortega Sr., met with Bureau of Indian Affairs at Mission San Fernando. Pictures is Norman Sahmaunt, as well as other enrollment officers from Bureau of Indian Affairs, and elders and families of the Fernandeños. The Tribe engages in Cultural Resources affairs under the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970.

  • Communication with Federal Government

    Captain Ortega Sr. issues letters to Robert Finch, President Nixon’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare requesting recognition and designation of Rocketdyne land in Chatsworth as a San Fernando Mission Indians of San Fernando reservation. Finch responds, directing the Tribe to contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the General Services Administration. Further, Captain Ortega Sr. is cited by the Valley News as leader of the Tribe in orchestrating negotiations and election of a group that will discuss the future of the cave paintings impacted by a nuclear contamination site.

  • Tribe advocates for Encino Burials

    Tribal members mobilized around the long overdue reburial of their ancestors at Encino, California. The Tribe’s non-profit, San Fernando Valley Inter-Tribal Council Inc. loses incorporation until 2001, but is still active as a social, community networking club and should not be conflated with the government and political operations of the Tribe. Multiple lineages of the Tribe continue to come together to visit and protect sacred sites.

    Pictured are Captain Rudy Ortega Sr. and Headperson Charlie Cookie.

  • Tribe Hosts First Pow-wow

    This newspaper article reports how the Tribe is hosting a pow-wow at the Pacoima Service Center on their village of Pakoinga in Pacoima, a social event that was shared by the many tribal members.

  • Annual Gathering

    In this newsletter, the FTB recapitulates the history of the Annual Christmas party and discussed the most recent Christmas party in 1999, which was attended by over forty children. This annual party, which was held throughout the 1970s and through the early 1980s, returned in 1993 as an annual event for FTB members to gather socially, celebrate culturally, and provide toys to children.

  • Non-Profit (re)Established

    The Tribe formally incorporates Pukúu Cultural Community Services (2000 – present) its non-profit that originated in 1974.

  • Rudy Ortega Sr. Park

    The Tribe and City of San Fernando entered into an agreement of partnership for cultural enrichment programs at Heritage Park, later renamed to Rudy Ortega Sr. Park after the death of Captain Ortega Sr. in 2009. The park is located at 2025 Fourth Street, San Fernando, CA, on a parcel of land maintained by Rogerio Rocha’s for the Tribe in the 1800s.

  • Federal Petition #158

    The Tribe submitted a full petition for federal acknowledgement to the OFA. The Tribe’s Captain Rudy Ortega Sr. passes away, and his captainship passes to his son and Vice President Larry Ortega.

  • Tribe Awarded Education Grant

    The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians a grant to address educational achievement of American Indian high school students throughout Los Angeles County.

  • Captain Ortega Jr.

    Rudy Ortega Jr. is elected as President, or Captain, of the Tribe. Under Ortega Jr., the Tribe advocated to the City of San Fernando to replace the second Monday in October, or Columbus Day, with Indigenous Peoples Day. San Fernando became the first city in Los Angeles County to replace the holiday.

  • 17 Protocols of Archdiocese

    On March 28, 2018, Tribal President Rudy J. Ortega Jr. (far right - above photo), on behalf the Tribe, signed the Statement of Native American Protocol for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Leaders and representatives of the Chumash, Tongva, and Acjachemen Nations (above photo) were also present and signatories to the protocols, facilitated by Sylvia Salazar, Coordinator for the Office of Native American Concerns Ministry.

    Read article

  • U.S. Census

    By 1850, only 117 Fernandeños are counted in the U.S. Census, 4 of whom would have descendants in the Tribe.

  • Indian Extermination & Land Loss

    Indian extermination and loss of Fernandeño land holdings. In 1851, California Governor Peter H. Burnett signed an executive order to exterminate all Indians in the state. An Act to Ascertain and Settle the Private Land Claims in the State of California, passed on March 3, 1851. Land holdings where private titles were not confirmed, including by the Fernandeños, were lost. This led to the majority of Fernandeños losing rights to their land and properties.

  • Covid-19 Response

    In March 2020, the Tribe refocused its administrative projects to caretake for the people by providing services to the highest risk among its population according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Elders, Pregnant Women, and the Disabled. The Tribe provided 1,800 families approximately $90,000 worth of care packages, 400 pieces of donated clothing, and established a nexus between the Fernandeño Tataviam and COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, the Tribe converted all of its programming to a virtual platform, thus simulating community gatherings and conducting ceremony online for the wellness of Tribe members. Tribe withdraws its petition from federal acknowledgement to clarify criterion E for the Office of Federal Acknowledgment.

  • LA County Apology

    In the motion by County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, authored by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Janice Hahn “Acknowledge and Apologize for the Historic Mistreatment of California Native Americans by Los Angeles County.” Specifically, the motion names the Tribe, who was consulted with in the development of the motion. The Tribe is recognized by the Los Angeles County government as an Indian entity.

  • L.A. Mayor Joins FTBMI

    "The earthy smell of burning sage filled the air Tuesday morning as dozens of Native Americans and city officials led by Mayor Eric Garcetti gathered at a west San Fernando Valley nature preserve to honor the winter solstice and pray for those who perished in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Read about the community wellness gathering co-hosted by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians here: LA Times article

  • Tribal Conservation Corps Launches

Fernandeño Territory