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Banking group donates land to local Native-American tribe


Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians

A banking group is donating more than 500 acres of “historic ancestral land'' in northern Los Angeles County to the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

Land Veritas, a California-based mitigation bank owner, is donating the land to the Tataviam Land Conservancy, a nonprofit organization formed by the tribe in 2018. Tribe officials said the donation marks the first time in more than a century that they will regain ownership and stewardship over a portion of their original territory.

The conservancy will explore ways to further preserve the land, which is adjacent to an environmental mitigation bank, including a permanent conservation easement. A small portion of the acreage includes unpaved roads and a building pad that the tribe plans to use for educational instruction.

“We are deeply grateful to Land Veritas and (Land Veritas President) Tracey Brownfield for reconnecting us to our ancestral territory,'' Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians President Rudy Ortega Jr. said in a statement. “The significance of this donation goes beyond property ownership. It's a restoration of heritage and a commitment to environmental stewardship.''

The tribe's homeland once spanned more than 1.5 million acres, extending from the Antelope Valley to the Pacific Ocean. By 1900, however, tribe officials say they were rendered “landless'' through “unjust land dispossession.''

“Protecting this land and preserving its natural splendor from development have been personal priorities for me,'' Brownfield said. “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 Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians at a later date as part of their 2024 planning.

Wednesday's announcement builds on the tribe's recent agreement with California State Parks to formalize cooperation within the tribe's ancestral lands.

The Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians is a native sovereign nation of northern Los Angeles County composed of a coalition of lineages originating in the Santa Clarita, Simi, San Fernando and Antelope valleys. The Tribal Administration Office is in San Fernando.