Land donation marks return of ancestral territory to Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians

Press release

News release 

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians announced the donation of more than 500 acres of historic ancestral land to the Tataviam Land Conservancy, a nonprofit organization formed by the tribe in 2018.  

The donation made by Land Veritas is the first-ever land donation to the conservancy and marks the first time in more than a century that the tribe will regain ownership and stewardship over a portion of its original territory, the tribe announced in a news release last week. 

The Tribe’s history is deeply interwoven into its homelands that once spanned more than 1.5 million acres, extending from the Antelope Valley to the Pacific Ocean, the release said. “By 1900, the Tribe was rendered “landless,” with its territory reduced to zero through unjust land dispossession,” the release said. 

“We are deeply grateful to Land Veritas and Tracey Brownfield for reconnecting us to our ancestral territory,” Rudy Ortega Jr., president of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, said in the release. “The significance of this donation goes beyond property ownership. It’s a restoration of heritage and a commitment to environmental stewardship.” 

The Tataviam Land Conservancy intends to explore ways to further preserve the land — which is in northern Los Angeles County and adjacent to an existing environmental mitigation bank — including a permanent conservation easement, the release said. A small portion of the acreage includes unpaved roads and a building pad that the tribe plans to use for educational instruction. 

“Protecting this land and preserving its natural splendor from development have been personal priorities for me,” Tracey Brownfield, president of Land Veritas, said in the release. “I firmly believe there’s no better steward or protector of this land than the tribe. Their profound respect for the environment and cultural legacy makes them the most deserving custodians of this cherished landscape.” 

More information about specific plans and uses for the land will be shared by The Tataviam Land Conservancy and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians as part of their 2024 planning. 

This announcement builds upon the Tribe’s recent historic agreement with California State Parks to formalize cooperation and collaboration in the management and protection of natural and cultural resources and interpretation for state parks within the tribe’s ancestral lands, the release said. 

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