Rudy Ortega, Jr.

Honorary Degrees

California State University, Northridge

Rudy Ortega, Jr. is an important member of California State University, Northridge's community, contributing thought leadership in its work to fully embody the values of equity, inclusion and belonging that are foundational to the university's mission and to facilitating student success. As tribal president, Mr. Ortega is the elected leader of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, on whose ancestral homelands CSUN is located. He has devoted his life to maintaining his tribe's identity, autonomy and cultural representation as the First People and historic tribe of northern Los Angeles County.

First as vice president and now as president of the Fernandeño Tataviam, Mr. Ortega has reinvigorated the tribe's non-profit arm, Pukúu Cultural Community Services, which provides community programs to Native Americans living in the region and helps to sustain the Fernandeño Tataviam community. He also oversees Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center, which shares the story of the five tribes of the San Gabriel Mountains and is a land base to serve the American Indian need to reconnect spiritually, culturally, environmentally and socially. 

Mr. Ortega's extraordinary leadership and advocacy with local and state governments and the California Historical Commission has resulted in policies to protect and enhance tribal resources and ancestral territory. He was instrumental in negotiating the repatriation of tribal remains in the Angeles National Forest and in securing traditional land in Los Angeles County for tribal burials. 

Mr. Ortega is an appointed commissioner and former chairman of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. He is also active at the intersection of history and identity at CSUN, speaking at campus convenings through the American Indian Studies Program, American Indian Students Association and the Department of Anthropology.

Mr. Ortega is active in the cultural life of the university, raising awareness of Native students and Native communities. His leadership is helping to create partnerships with our academic community focused on climate resiliency, internships, non-profit incubators and teacher training. 

In recognition of his deep engagement with the university community and his life-long dedication to the ancestors of the First People of our region, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and the California State University, Northridge are proud to confer upon Rudy Ortega, Jr. the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.​​