San Fernando Band of Mission Indians

P.O. Box 221838
Newhall, CA. 91322
(503) 539-0933

Photograph of desert landscape

Near the village of Najayabit


The San Fernando Band of Mission Indians are of an extraordinarily rich heritage. For almost 200 years despite early efforts to eradicate our people and erode our traditional culture, our existence continues. Many generations later we continue to maintain our unique identity and to maintain a sense of community. We have maintained our pride as Native American people and struggle daily to maintain and protect our culture. We are strong in our resolve to keep those things that give meaning and vitality to our identity as a people, including our language, our culture, our lands, and our rights

Members of the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians descend from the original native peoples who lived in the San Fernando Valley and adjacent regions at the time of European contact and who became affiliated with Mission San Fernando during California’s Mission Period (1797-1835). Following the mission’s secularization in 1835, many of the Indian families continued to reside upon lands which they had been given to support themselves under the Mexican government. The descendants of these families remained on these lands under the authority of a recognized chief until 1886. In that year, under court order, the Indian families were evicted because the lands formerly owned by the mission had been acquired by new owners who wished to develop the property. The Indian Agent for California protested this taking of tribal members’ lands to no avail.

The San Fernando Band of Mission Indians can trace its origins to native tribes who lived in the series of inland valleys long before Spanish contact in the eighteenth century. These peoples are known today by the four languages spoken by Native Americans who lived at Mission San Fernando. Three of these four languages belonged to the Takic division of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic family; these were: (1) the Fernandeño dialect of the Gabrielino (sometimes called “Tongva”) language, (2) Tataviam, and (3) the Vanyumé dialect of the Serrano language. The fourth language was the Santa Monica Mountains dialect of Ventureño Chumash spoken by the native peoples of the Simi Valley and Malibu Coast. Because of the intermarriage of people speaking these different languages that took place at the mission during the nineteenth century, members of the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians can trace their ancestry to at least three of these original four groups:

Fernandeño, Tataviam, and Vanyumé.

The San Fernando Band of Mission Indians is one of two tribal organizations whose ancestors once lived at Mission San Fernando. The other organization primarily represents families who remained in the San Fernando Valley, whereas the SFBMI represents the majority of those descendants whose families had moved to the upper Santa Clara River Valley and is the descendant organization of those who adopted a constitution and bylaws in 1962.

For over twenty years the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians has worked with local, state, and federal agencies doing all possible to help protect and preserve Fernandeño, Tataviam and Vanyume culture and the history of our ancestral lands within LA County and surrounding San Bernardino County.

sepia toned image of woman in traditional dress

Josephine Leyva Garcia