California Celebrates Launch of Tribal Conservation Corps Program

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Southern California Tribe seeks to increase capacity for fire mitigation workforce in the region with existing forest health training while teaching youth about traditional and cultural Native American practices.


Sacramento – The California Natural Resources Agency today joined the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) in announcing the launch of the Tiüvac’a’ai[1] (healthy land) Tribal Conservation Corps in coordination with the State’s Regional Forest and Fire Capacity (RFFC) Program.


The Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps’ hands-on training program will work with Native youth and young adults towards the goals of regaining ecological functionality, enhancing climate resiliency, and human well-being. Project outcomes include partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to work on Forest Service priority projects which may entail land management, replanting, reforestation, and invasive species removal.


“Since time immemorial my Tribe, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, has nurtured and maintained the náavoyotsh (mother earth), specifically the Tiuvac’am (lands) known today as Los Angeles County,” said Tribal President Rudy Ortega Jr. “By establishing the Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps, my Tribe is delivering the practical value of preservation in tandem with the unique perspectives and relationships of the First Peoples of the greater Los Angeles region.”


The Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps is being funded regionally by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Wildlife Resilience Program in coordination with the RFFC Program. The RFFC is a statewide effort established and funded by the Department of Conservation to support regional leadership to build local and regional capacity and develop, prioritize, and implement strategies and projects that create fire adapted communities and landscapes by improving ecosystem health, community wildfire preparedness, and fire resilience.


Governor Newsom’s proposed 2022-’23 state budget includes $7.2 million in funding for the California Conservation Corps to establish more tribal conservation corps like the one being launched today. The proposal is part of the Newsom Administration’s core commitment to strengthening tribal partnerships in implementing nature-based solutions, including a $100 million proposed budget set aside for a Tribal Nature-Based Solutions Program and proposed legislation to create a Tribal Natural Resources Council to lead the Tribal Nature-Based Solutions effort and advise CNRA policy.


“The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (Conservancy) has been working for more than 30 years to collaborate with partners to combat climate change and wildfire risk with innovative partnerships and programs,” said Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Chair Linda Parks. “The Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps program was identified as a tribal priority and will help complete US Forest Service priority projects of ecological restoration and wildfire resilience.” The Conservancy is leading the regional RFFC effort to coordinate with tribes, agencies, and communities to meet the immediate need to fund and complete wildfire resiliency projects in the Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.


“The Department of Conservation is thrilled to support this historic program,” said Department of Conservation Director David Shabazian. “Tribal-led stewardship is a foundational goal of the RFFC program. We commend the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and the Conservancy for embracing this charge and thinking multi-generationally through this investment in youth leadership.”


“California Native American tribes are the original stewards of the lands and waters now called California,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. “The Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps program is a positive example of tribal, state, and regional partnership in the early implementation of tribal nature-based solutions, programs and workforce development. We encourage development of many more tribally led conservation corps that not only provide hands on training for native youth for the critical work needed to address the climate crisis, but also support the learning and application of Traditional Ecological Knowledge on ancestral lands.”


The Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps workforce development program will be led by one of the FTBMI’s non-profits, Pukúu Cultural Community Services (Pukúu), and the FTBMI’s Tribal Historic and Cultural Preservation (THCP) Department, in partnership with the California Conservation Corps (CCC), and Community Nature Connection (CNC). Pukúu and the FTBMI’s THCP Department will train program participants on Native Cultural Land Management practices, the CCC will provide fire and land restoration management training, and CNC will lead nationally, and state recognized Interpretive Guide Course Training and collaborate on developing the program training toolkit.


“Our Conservation Corps program will promote and restore the cultural values of the Indigenous Peoples of California through the practice and application of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the protection, restoration, and development of our cultural and natural landscapes,” said Pamela Villaseñor – Pukúu’s Executive Director and one of the FTBMI’s Knowledge Keepers. “In addition, our program will teach our tribal youth to embrace their ancestral knowledge, which will promote their sense of identity, self-esteem, and self-worth,” added Villaseñor.


“We are thankful to Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Department of Conservation, and program partners for their commitment to the FTBMI and their partnership towards a more sustainable and resilient environment,” said Miguel Angel Luna, FTBMI’s Tribal Historic and Cultural Preservation Department Director. “Programs that help to grow the social infrastructure needed towards self-sufficiency and self-determination for Native youth and young adults in the region are programs that the State should continue to prioritize and focus funding towards,” added Luna. The Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps program seeks to increase the capacity for fire mitigation work force in the region to meet the immediate need of creating more wildfire-resilient communities, wild lands, and watersheds.


“The CCC is pleased to partner and work with FTBMI and Community Nature Connection to develop the next generation of environmental stewards through the Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps.  The CCC will leverage our 46 years of workforce development and public service conservation work to ensure that the Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps program has a sustainable and lasting impact on tribal youth and FTBMI ancestral lands,” said Bruce Saito, Director of the California Conservation Corps.


“We are honored and look forward to partnering with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Pukúu Cultural Community Services, and others, in the future development of the Tiüvac’a’ai Tribal Conservation Corps,” said Thomas Torres, acting forest supervisor for the Angeles National Forest. “Participants will gain hands-on experience in helping to managing our entrusted lands while promoting tribal cultural values."


FTBMI 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 located in the City of San Fernando, approximately two miles from the Mission San Fernando from which the FTBMI received the name fernandeño. After the Missions were secularized by Mexico, surviving Fernandeño leaders negotiated for and received several land holdings amounting to over 18,000 acres under Mexican trust and protection. The FTBMI was recognized in 1892, when a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney recommended that the federal government take action for Fernandeño land rights under the Mission Indian Relief Act of 1891.

[1](tier-wuc uh-eye) Tiüvac’a’ai :  



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