LOS ANGELES (DECEMBER 21, 2021) — Today, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) co-hosted a Winter Solstice Community Wellness Gathering at Chatsworth Nature Preserve to celebrate the official first day of winter and to honor and remember those we have lost to COVID-19.
“I am grateful to the Fernandeño Tataviam and Chumash Tribal leaders for bringing us together today to honor those we’ve lost and reaffirm our ties to this place and to each other,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “All of us share in the trauma of the last nearly two years, but as we mark the shortest day of the year, we know that spring is up ahead, and we will emerge stronger than before.”
With hundreds of community members present at the City of Los Angeles’ only nature preserve, the gathering featured a number of highlights, including special Fernandeño Tataviam and Chumash Native American welcoming songs and attendees participating in the prayer circle.
“We are excited to welcome the community to the Chatsworth Nature Preserve for this very special event, celebrating the change of seasons and recognizing our collective responsibility for the wellbeing of our community and the environment,” said Cynthia McClain-Hill, President of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “I want to thank our partners, the Fernandeño Tataviam tribe, who led the community in prayer, for honoring those we’ve lost to COVID-19 and helping us find peace and solace as we took in the beautiful sights the preserve has to offer.”
“As First Peoples, my Tribe is not unfamiliar with pandemic outbreaks in our homelands,” said Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians’ Tribal President, Rudy Ortega Jr. “Two-hundred years ago, my great-great grandmother Maria and hundreds of Tribal members lost their lives in a pandemic, and today, we’ve lost more of our loved ones to COVID-19. In their honor, we gather together on our ancestral village of Jucjauyanga to celebrate our winter solstice and pray for the good health, wellness, and spirit our communities.”
The property is closed to the public to preserve habitat on the site, so this event provided the community a rare opportunity to view unique wildlife, plants and trees around Chatsworth Nature Preserve.
Speakers also included Senator Henry Stern, Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tempore and 13th District City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, and 12th District L.A. City Councilmember John Lee.
The LADWP-owned property originally served as the site of a reservoir put into service in 1919 and fed by the San Fernando Reservoir. Because the reservoir dam was built without mechanical compaction of the soil, it was deemed seismically vulnerable and removed from service in 1972. In 1997, the Los Angeles City Council renamed the Chatsworth Reservoir as the Chatsworth Nature Preserve establishing the City’s first and only nature preserve.