On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (“the Tribe”) and the Santa Clarita Library celebrated Native American Heritage Month through a community launch party to announce the Yawáyro: Indigenous Awareness and Early Literacy Program. The goal of the Yawáyro: Indigenous Awareness and Early Literacy Program is to focus on the cultural awareness of Indigneous Peoples through a curated selection of book titles about, and/or by, Indigenous Peoples with discussion questions for families.

Old Town Newhall Library, located on the village of Tochonanga, was the backdrop for the community celebration. Today, descendants of the Native Americans living at Tochonanga are citizens of the Tribe. 

Yawáyro” means ‘believe’ in serrano, but our translation is that it means ‘awareness,’ which is what we hope to bring through this program; awareness to the public that our people inhabited these lands, but importantly, that we are still here, that we are authors, poets, illustrators, and that our children are our legacy to the future” says Tribal President Rudy Ortega Jr., who descends from the village of Tochonanga. 

Elders Council member Dennis Garcia provided cultural education through storytelling with demonstrations of songs and regalia.

Present from the Tribe were elected officials, elders, staff, and citizens, in addition to the Santa Clarita Library staff and local residents.

The Santa Clarita Library played the Public Service Announcement about the Yawáyro: Indigenous Awareness and Early Literacy Program, which featured tribal citizens and relatives who spoke of the importance of Indigenous characters and stories. 

Pamela Villaseñor, a tribal citizen, descendant of Tochonanga, and Executive Advisor to the Tribal President, was among those who were interviewed for the PSA.

“As a Native American its important that representation is available and accessible for my daughter, when we make up less than 1% of the community, visibility is really important. And one of those important ways that my daughter gets to see images like her is it through books, and how those stories, then, are pieces where she gets to learn about her identity at a very young age, through simple stories and time you have with your family reading books,” said Villaseñor. 

View the PSA here.

Yawáyro: Indigenous Awareness and Early Literacy Program provides a Book Kit with stories about, by and for Indigenous Peoples. Santa Clarita residents may check out a Book Kit for up to 4 weeks from any of the City of Santa Clarita libraries including Canyon Country, Old Town Newhall and Valencia. Book Kits will also be available at the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians’ Tribal Administration office at 1019 2nd Street in San Fernando, California.

The Yawáyro Book Kits are made possible through a grant from the American Indian Library Association and Asian Pacific Americans Library Association. 

For more information about the Tribe, visit