Press Releases

Fernandeño Tataviam Community, California Institute of the Arts Introduce Groundbreaking Scholarship


Merit-based aid will support students committed to Fernandeño Tataviam knowledge

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) announced today a first-of-its-kind scholarship to support students who have extensive knowledge of and passion for the Fernandeño Tataviam community. 

The Fernandeño Tataviam Scholarship for Excellence will provide post-grant financial support to admitted students in the visual and performing arts who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to understanding the history of, and/or further enhancing the presence of, Fernandeño Tataviam. The award ensures that any gap between available grant aid and the full cost of tuition is covered.

CalArts’ campus in Valencia sits on the ancestral homeland of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. The school is the first post-secondary art institute in the U.S. to ensure full tuition costs are covered for students showing sustained commitment to the Native community on whose land their campus is located. 

“As a descendant of Chaguayanga, the village that CalArts occupies, it is my deepest honor to be able to represent my Tribe in this historic relationship with this institute,” said Rudy Ortega Jr., president of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. “CalArts’ financial support of admitted students who have knowledge of my Tribe will have impacts within and outside of the Native community for generations to come.”

For the Institute, the scholarship illustrates a collective commitment to lifting up the stories, culture, and community of the First Peoples of the Santa Clarita Valley. Building on the Institute’s Fernandeño Tataviam-endorsed land acknowledgment, CalArts is deepening its collaboration with the Indigenous community and providing all CalArtians a stronger sense of their place as guests on Fernandeño Tataviam lands. 

“Strengthening our values of inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access is foundational to CalArts’ future,” said CalArts President Ravi S. Rajan. “Aptitude is distributed equally among artists all over the world, but the opportunity to pursue higher education in the arts is elusive for many. 

This partnership will help provide that opportunity for artists who will nurture new ideas that help the world to better see and understand itself. Through this scholarship, we’re honored to strengthen our relationship and integration with Indigenous artists and the historic Fernandeño Tataviam community.”

Additional Fernandeño Tataviam-CalArts collaborations include the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) youth program, which is helping Indigenous K-12 students to cultivate their own art practices. The program helps students build portfolios so they are better prepared to apply to post-secondary arts institutions. 

In September, brothers Ted and Dennis Garcia, both Fernandeño Tataviam Elders Council members and descendants of Chaguayanga participated in Visions2030: Earth Edition, a 10-day festival at CalArts, leading more than 600 people in Indigenous Deep Knowledge Circles. The Knowledge Circles encouraged visitors to reconsider their relationship with the earth by embracing Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world.

“As occupants of the land the Fernandeño Tataviam will forever call home, we take seriously our obligation to amplify their voices and work together to support their community,” said Chad S. Hamill/čnaq’ymi (Spokane Tribe), executive director for Indigenous Arts & Expression and senior advisor to the president on Indigenous Affairs at CalArts. Although we’ve yet to have a Fernandeño Tataviam student enroll at CalArts, this scholarship is an important step in that direction — and there will be more collaboration to come.”

Ortega announced the scholarship at Pukúu Cultural Community Services’ 19th Annual Night with the Stars Gala, held Friday at the Skirball Cultural Center. Find this release and photos from the event here. 


Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (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. 

About CalArts 

California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.