Jump to Content  

Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., LHD Appointed to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Governing Board

July 17, 2023

Download Photo

Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., LHD is the first Native American to Serve on the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Governing Board

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 17, 2023) The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) announced today that Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., LHD has been appointed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to the Governing Board of the MRCA. Ortega, Jr. currently serves as the Chairperson of the Conservancy as an appointee of the Governor. The first Native American to serve on the MRCA Governing Board, Ortega, Jr.  is the Tribal President of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, a native sovereign nation of northern Los Angeles County. As the elected leader of his Tribe, Ortega Jr. oversees the governmental body and manages affairs pertaining to the rights of all Fernandeño Tataviam tarahat (people).

“My ancestry is thousands of years buried here, in this soil,” said Ortega, Jr.  “The dirt, the mountains, the plants all contain my ancestral DNA. I am pleased to now join the MRCA as the first California Native American and to be part of an agency that works on preservation and management of open space and parklands for all generations.”

Ortega, Jr. is a member of Siutcabit, the lineage of present-day Encino, CA. His ancestors come from the villages that originated in the geographical areas of Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley, and San Fernando Valley. His great-grandfather Antonio Maria Ortega, from whom he receives his traditional role as tomiar or leader, fought in Los Angeles Superior Court in the 19th century to preserve traditional lands and protect Native title to Mexican land grants from encroaching settlers. His father, the late Rudy Ortega Sr., served as the previous leader of the Tribe for over fifty years and was elected to the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission in 1977. Following his father’s leadership, Ortega Jr. was appointed to the Native American Indian Commission by Mayor James Hahn in 2004, where he serves today as a commissioner.

From 2004 – 2018, Ortega Jr. invigorated the Tribe’s non-profit Pukúu Cultural Community Services as the Executive Director. Through this role, he served the greater Los Angeles County American Indian community and oversaw Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center. Through his seat as Tribal President, Ortega Jr. helped establish the Tataviam Land Conservancy, Paséki Strategies Corporation, and a co-management agreement with the City of San Fernando for Rudy Ortega Sr. Park.

In addition to serving as Chairperson of the Conservancy, Ortega Jr. is a member of the Los Angeles River Master Plan Steering Committee, Santa Clarita Watershed Recreation and Conservation Authority, Edison Consumer Advisory Panel Board, and a Commission member of the Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) is a local government public entity exercising joint powers of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Conejo Recreation and Park District and the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. The MRCA is dedicated to the preservation and management of local open space and parkland, wildlife habitat, coastal access, watershed lands, and trails in both wilderness and urban settings, and to ensuring access to public parkland and coastal resources. The MRCA works in cooperation with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and other local government partners to acquire parkland, participate in vital planning processes, work towards wildfire resilience, and connect wildlife habitat. The MRCA manages more than 75,000 acres of parkland that it owns and that are owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. It is one of the lead agencies revitalizing the Los Angeles River.