The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) has spent the last 128 years and millions of dollars petitioning the government for federal acknowledgement. "Federal acknowledgement is important because it will preserve the existence of the Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe as a government," Rudy Ortega, the Tribe's vice president, tells Hunker, "and will show that the United States government recognizes the Tribe's sovereignty and self-determination."
To continue fighting for federal acknowledgment, the Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe is now asking for AcknowledgeRent. Launched on December 1, 2021, the digital tribal support platform allows northern Los Angeles County residents who reside or work on Fernandeño Tataviam land to make voluntary monetary contributions, or "rent," to the Tribal Nation. By September 23, 2022, on California Native American Day, the Tribe hopes to raise their goal of $150k.
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"For over 50 years, the Fernandeño Tataviam has researched and advocated for its social justice of federal recognition at the cost of $2.8 million," Ortega explains. "Today, FTBMI is in the final steps of re-submitting its petition, which is estimated to cost around $150k." In other words, all AcknowledgeRent funds will go toward the Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe's petition for federal acknowledgment.
Federal acknowledgement can have implications beyond recognizing and honoring the First Peoples of the land. Since 1797, the Fernandeño Tataviam people have also experienced land dispossession that compounds the problem, creating obstacles the Tribe continues to face to this day. For instance, due to financial hardships placed on non-federally recognized tribes, the Fernandeño Tataviam's Knowledge Keepers struggle to pass on their expertise and are unable to gain permission to harvest sacred medicines on their homeland. For the latter, they require a permit that costs over $500k.
Protection also comes with federal acknowledgement — both the protection of children and that of cultural sites. "Non-federally recognized tribes are not afforded the right to fully intervene in child welfare proceedings for their Tribal children as the federal Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply to them," reads the Tribe's press release. This means that the Fernandeño Tataviam people are disproportionately affected when it comes to losing their Tribal children in child welfare cases.
As for cultural sites, the Fernandeño Tataviam are the Tribal Cultural Resource experts of their homeland. As a result, they often provide expertise, knowledge, and labor to state and local agencies without compensation. This, along with child welfare proceedings involving Tribal children, costs the Tribe between $100k and $470k each year.
To support the Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe in their efforts, people can make direct or recurring payments through AcklowledgeRent.
When asked how else we can support the Fernandeño Band of Mission Indians, Oretega says, "Today, FTBMI has established nonprofits and a renewable energy business." He provides the following websites as resources where you can learn more and donate: