The CalArts main campus sits on the unceded ancestral lands of the Chaguayavitam, the people of Chaguayanga, whose present-day descendants are citizens of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. They have been here for millennia and will forever call this place home. Through meaningful partnership and collaboration, CalArts is committed to lifting up their stories, culture, and community.

Land Acknowledgment Statement

In November 2022, the California Institute of the Arts announced a land acknowledgment statement endorsed by the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians for use by the CalArts community. 

A land acknowledgment statement proclaims respect and recognition for the ancestral people who call an area home and their enduring relationship with that home. Combined with meaningful engagement and actions, the Fernandeño Tataviam–endorsed land acknowledgment reorients community thinking about place and about occupied lands.

We encourage you to use the statement in email signatures and as an opening statement before events, presentations, and performances on campus. While the use of the acknowledgment is not mandatory, it’s worth remembering that successful relationship-building hinges on full community support and buy-in. The Institute is grateful for CalArtians’ commitment to this effort and for their contributions to a long, healthy bond with the First Peoples of Santa Clarita.  

The California Institute of the Arts has been building its formal relationship with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians — the First Peoples of Santa Clarita — since 2019 as an initiative of the IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Access) Cooperative. After establishing a supportive, ongoing relationship, the statement was explored and mutually created between leaders of both groups in late 2022.

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians is among more than 600 distinct tribal communities who have maintained their lifeways and cultural traditions despite the ongoing — and unrelenting — colonial project. In isolation, a land acknowledgment statement is an empty gesture. Indigenous nations and communities require more than words and gestures from allies: They deserve substantial, tangible action. CalArts–Fernandeño Tataviam collaborations include a Community Arts Partnership (CAP) youth program, which is helping Fernandeño Tataviam K-12 students to cultivate their own art practices and secondary students to prepare for post-secondary arts education. Other joint efforts feature campus engagements with Fernandeño Tataviam leaders in cultural presentations and dialogue, providing CalArtians a stronger sense of their place as guests on Fernandeño Tataviam lands. The Institute is exploring ways to give a permanent area to the Fernandeño Tataviam on campus.

CalArts Fellow for Indigenous Arts (now Executive Director of Indigenous Arts and Expression), Chad Hamill/cnaq’ymi (Music BFA 93, MFA 97) has significantly increased campus engagement with Fernandeño Tataviam culture-bearers and leaders through cultural presentations and dialogue, giving our CalArts campus community a deeper and more accurate sense of where we are as guests on Fernandeño Tataviam lands. Dr. Hamill, who advised CalArts leadership and worked with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians on the statement, has offered to be a contact for questions from the CalArts community about the land acknowledgment.