California Indian Day at CSUN

  • Tataviam storyteller Alan Salazar speaks to students at Calahan Elementary School. Photo by Luis Garcia.

  • Elementary students sit and learn about the local Indian tribes in Southern California. Photo by Luis Garcia.

  • A Tataviam musician greets President Dianne F. Harrison with a tribal song. Photo by Luis Garcia.

  • A local Native American shows students how to make bracelets. Photo by Luis Garcia.

More than 300 students from Calahan Street Elementary School visited the California State University, Northridge campus on Sept. 24 and 25 to learn about the history and culture of Native American people within and surrounding the San Fernando Valley.

The university joined efforts with the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians to host the second annual California Indian Day: The Tataviam and Their Neighbors at the South Sierra Quad.

President Dianne F. Harrison gave the students a warm welcome and described the significance of the event before activities began.

“CSUN sits on the ancestral homeland of the Tataviam,” Harrison said. “We consider this a great responsibility and honor, and we’re so glad the members of the Tataviam community have chosen our campus to celebrate California Indian Day and share their history and culture with us.”

Various information booths were set up across the Sierra Quad to help students learn about the rich history of the native people across Southern California. Some of the activities included making bracelets, weaving baskets, and listening to storytelling and music. Students also learned about the geography, plants and cultural arts of the local Native American tribes.

Chumash and Tataviam storyteller Alan Salazar taught young students about Native American culture through oral tradition. He said this tradition allows the history of his people to be preserved.

“I want to be able to teach the history and culture myself,” Salazar said. “It’s really important for kids to hear from our point of view. As a storyteller, [California Indian Day] allows me to find the next generation of storytellers.”

Pamela Villaseñor, director of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, said the event exposed students to a vibrant culture.

“This event gives students a sense of understanding about who the people were who lived on this land before us,” she said.

For more information about the Tataviam Indians, visit

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