[ABC7] Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians explains why Native sovereignty is multifaceted

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. (KABC) — “Our America: Reclaiming Turtle Island”brings to life the July 2022 National Geographic issue cover story, “We Are Here” and the conversation around Native sovereignty and the efforts Indigenous nations and communities are taking to reclaim Turtle Island — a common Indigenous name for North America.

The documentary features narration by Taboo, a member of the musical group Black Eyed Peas and Marvel writer of Native American and Mexican descent. But the topic hits close to home in Southern California.

For Rudy Ortega Jr., the tribal president of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, sovereignty is multifaceted.

“I think the most important thing with tribal sovereignty, Native sovereignty, is the correction of our identity,” he said.

He said it comes down to the erasure of indigenous identity. When a tribal member passed away recently, government documents identified him as Hispanic with no mention of his tribal heritage, and as one of the smaller tribes, Fernandeño Tataviam is often misidentified.

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