[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
57°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 12
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]


Charlie Cooke, left, performs the blessing at the SCV Historical Musuem upon the transference of artifacts from Newhall Land's River Village development site in 2007, Receiving the blessing is Rudy Cook Jr., current tribal captain of the Fernandeño-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

Charlie Cooke, left, performs the blessing at the SCV Historical Society museum upon the transference of artifacts from Newhall Land’s River Village development site in 2007, Receiving the blessing is Rudy Ortega Jr., current tribal captain of the Fernandeño-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. Click for more information.

Charlie Cooke, the Santa Clarita Valley’s most prominent Indian leader for more than four decades, died Saturday morning at his home in Acton after a long ailment.

Cooke, a spiritual leader of the Fernandeño-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, who also embraced the Chumash culture, was 77.

“He taught me that it’s important to reach down and touch mother earth and know where you came from, always remember who we are,” said his cousin Ted Garcia, who assumed the mantle of hereditary chief of the Southern Band of Chumash Indians four or five years ago when Charlie’s health started to slow him down.

Since the early 1970s, Charlie was go-to person whenever a builder or public agency needed an Indian monitor for a housing development or a road project that threatened a prehistoric native American site in northern Los Angeles County or western Ventura County. Under his watchful eye, archaeological relics and burials were either preserved in place or relocated to venues where they could be handled and cherished with the proper respect.

“When he handed his (chief’s) staff to me at Playa Vista,” Ted Garcia said, “there were many holes in it,” each one representing a victory in the fight for the preservation of Indian traditions.

Ted remembers Charlie saying: “There are many battles that I’ve won, and I’ve lost more than I’ve won, but I’m proud of my accomplishments.”

Charlie conducted blessings and represented several Southland tribes – including neighboring groups such as the Chumash (Ventura-Santa Barbara) and the Kawaiisu (Tehachapi) – in political settings. Charlie’s own lineage was Tataviam (Santa Clarita Valley), Kitanemuk (Antelope Valley) and Tongva (San Fernando Valley-L.A. basin, i.e., Fernandeño-Gabrielino), along with some French and German.

Joe Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, met Charlie in 1979, the year the state Legislature created the conservancy to advocate for lands threatened by rapid urbanization.

“Charlie Cooke … has blessed the lands that have sustained these populations (of diverse flora and fauna) and shared its blessings with the people who have come to these remarkable mountains,” Edmiston says in the foreword to a brand-new book about Charlie’s life.

“Charlie was a great source of tribal knowledge,” said Rudy Ortega Jr., the Tomiar, or tribal captain, of the Fernandeño-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. “I am honored to say he was my cousin and a great advocate of preservation of our tribal culture.”

“He was keen on preserving and protecting tribal cultural resources and historical sites of both Tataviam and Chumash lands,” Ortega said Sunday. “In 1984, when I was 12 years old, I got the privilege to see Charlie and my father, Rudy Ortega Sr., work together on mitigating a disturbed cultural site at Encino.”

Ortega Jr. said Charlie “worked closely with the National Parks Service, lending his knowledge to further preserve Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center in the Santa Monica Mountains for generations to enjoy.”

Similarly, Charlie played a key role in the establishment of the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks, Ted Garcia said.

Charlie – Charles Robert Cooke – was born Oct. 2, 1935, in San Mateo to Cy and Katherine Cooke. Cy was a Newhall cowboy; Charlie grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley and attended the K-8 Newhall School in the 1940s and the new high school, Hart, in the early 1950s.

By profession he drove a cement truck and worked on so many construction jobs that he “knew every deer trail in the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Leona Valley,” Ted Garcia said. “He never took the freeway. He was always taking back roads and pointing out interesting things to us.”

Click to order book

Click to order book

Charlie was scheduled to tell his life story in a televised interview at next weekend’s Hart of the West Powwow at William S. Hart Park in Newhall. Fortunately, his story has been preserved by author Mary Louise Contini Gordon in a new book, “TIQ SLO’W: The Making of a Modern Day Chief.”

The book was released Thursday on Kindle and is due to be released Monday in print. Charlie had planned to participate in book signings. The book is billed as an “ethnographic biography” that tells the story of Charlie as “a cowboy, a ranch hand, a rodeo champ, a Korean War veteran, a regular husband and father, and a truck driver. … It is the story of this very same man who worked tirelessly to preserve (his) ancestral lands for posterity, for Cooke’s descendants and those of the very people who took lands from his forbears.”

Charlie’s ancestry has been thoroughly researched by Dr. John Johnson, curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, who has worked with local Indian tribes for many years in their struggle to compile the extensive documentation required for federal recognition.

“The problem,” Charlie Cooke said in a 2000 interview, “is that if you can’t prove your native American ancestry through the mission records, you don’t classify as an Indian in the government’s eyes.”

Steps in that direction took a leap forward in 2005 when mitochondrial DNA from a prehistoric burial at Ritter Ranch, north of Acton and west of Palmdale, was linked to living native Americans. It was unprecedented.

And yet, federal recognition awaits the descendants of the first peoples of the Santa Clarita, Antelope and San Fernando valleys.

Charlie Cooke leaves behind his widow, Linda (Enright) Cooke. He had four children (two by a previous marriage) and a great many cousins. Funeral services are pending.

 


 

Notes About Charlie Cooke’s Ancestry.

Locally, Charlie Cooke’s heritage can be traced to his great-great grandfather Santiago Garcia, who descended from native American and Californio ancestors. Santiago was born in 1833 and built an adobe home at Little Rock Creek on the east side of modern-day Acton. He was killed in 1873 by a grizzly bear in the canyon that now bears his (first) name.

Charlie lived on Santiago Road at the time of his death.

On the Cooke side, Charlie’s lineage can be traced to William Cook, a contemporary of Santiago Garcia who married Trinidad Espinoza. Their son, Charlie’s great-grandfather, was Dolores Cook, who worked for rancher Bill Jenkins in Castaic. Dolores was gunned down in 1890 by Jenkins’ rival, William Chormicle, who was tried for murder but got off when nobody dared testify against him.

That wasn’t necessarily the end of the story. More than a century later, in 1998, a Northlake bulldozer “rediscovered” the old Jenkins family plot. Five bodies were exhumed from Castaic and reburied at Eternal Valley Cemetery in Newhall. Nobody knows if one was that of Dolores Cook.

The “e” was reportedly tacked onto the surname by Santiago Garcia’s granddaughter, Chief Frances Garcia, when she married Dolores Cook’s son, Fred.

lw2077

Click to enlarge

Fred and Frances are the parents of Charlie’s father, Cy Cooke, a Newhall cowboy who was born in 1912 and who palled around with William S. Hart and Andy Jauregui. Cy Cooke can be seen (standing, at left) with Hart and Jauregui in the locally famous photograph of the Newhall Cowboys placing a granite marker at the Ruiz Cemetery in San Francisquito Canyon after the St. Francis Dam collapsed and killed nearly 500 people on March 12-13, 1928.

Also seen in the photograph is Frank Rouff (standing, second from right), the brother of Charlie’s mother, Katherine.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

3 Comments

  1. Desiree says:

    The caption is wrong up top. It’s not Rudy Cook Jr but Rudy Ortega Jr.

  2. Glennda says:

    I worked with Charlie many years ago on Level(3). The measure of a great man is his quality. Charlie was nothing but quality. With sadness I hear of his passing and send on my many high regards to his family.
    Respectfully,
    Glennda

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
Loading...
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017
Laurene Weste Named Mayor for Fifth Time
The City Council named Laurene Weste the new mayor of Santa Clarita Tuesday night.
Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017
Forward Progress Stopped on 2-Acre West Hills Fire
A 2-acre brush fire, dubbed the Copper Fire, ignited shortly 4:35 p.m. on the 29100 block of West Hills Drive, according to a tweet from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017
Newhall Suspect Charged with 65 Counts; Bail Set at More Than $2 Million
On Friday, the facts of the case against Newhall resident, Robert Mount, age 52, were presented to the San Fernando District Attorney's office.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The City Council named Laurene Weste the new mayor of Santa Clarita Tuesday night.
Laurene Weste Named Mayor for Fifth Time
Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney – Unibail-Rodamco SE (“Unibail-Rodamco”) and Westfield Corporation (“Westfield”) announced Tuesday that Unibail- Rodamco has entered into an agreement to acquire Westfield to create the world’s premier developer and operator of flagship shopping destinations (the “Group”).
French Real Estate Firm Buys Westfield in $16-Billion Deal
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—CSUN's Channon Fluker was named Madness National Mid-Major Women's Basketball Player of the Week Dec. 11.
CSUN’s Fluker Named Player of the Week
​LOS ANGELES, CA Trammell Crow Company (TCC) and Clarion Partners have begun construction on The Center at Needham Ranch, a 54-acre, state-of-the-art industrial business park in Santa Clarita.
Construction Underway at Needham Ranch
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Attendees of California State University, Northridge's Matador Athletics events will be able to purchase beer and wine at home games beginning Jan. 6, 2018 with the start of the Men's and Women's Basketball Big West Conference season.
Beer, Wine Will Soon be Available at CSUN Home Games
A 2-acre brush fire, dubbed the Copper Fire, ignited shortly 4:35 p.m. on the 29100 block of West Hills Drive, according to a tweet from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Forward Progress Stopped on 2-Acre West Hills Fire
How do we close the graduation gap? How do we ensure students have the resources they need to succeed academically? Those are questions people in higher education — including at California State University, Northridge — have been grappling with for decades.
CSUN Department Changing Way Students are Served After Data Sheds Some Light
Offering more than 150 itineraries to popular bucket-list destinations all over the world, Princess Cruises has earned top honors for its cruise vacation itineraries in the Cruise Critic Annual Editors’ Picks Awards.
Industry Experts Award Princess Cruises “Best Itineraries”
As it wraps up 2017 and looks forward to 2018, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce announced eight new additions to its board of directors next year.
Chamber Announces 2018 Board of Directors
Continuing more than a decade of Christmas tradition, Faith Community Church will host the 12th Annual “Festividad for Christ” Christmas celebration for its neighbors in Newhall.
Dec. 16: Annual “Festividad for Christ” Community Christmas Celebration
With New Year’s Eve just a few weeks away, the city of Santa Clarita is offering a cash reward up to $500, in the hopes that someone will come forth with valuable information that may lead to the citation(s) of the person or persons responsible for illegal firework activity in the City.
City to Offer Cash in Exchange for Tips on Illegal Firework Activity
On Friday, the facts of the case against Newhall resident, Robert Mount, age 52, were presented to the San Fernando District Attorney's office.
Newhall Suspect Charged with 65 Counts; Bail Set at More Than $2 Million
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]
'The Shape of Water' and 'Big Little Lies' top the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 75th Golden Globes nominations announced Monday morning in Beverly Hills.
‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ Top 75th Golden Globes Nominations
Baxter the cat-napped kitten has been returned safely to the Shelter Hope Pet Shop at Valencia Town Center Mall.
Cat-Napped Kitten Returned Safely to Shelter Hope
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the SCV Sheriff's Station has sent out an all-points bulletin about a male kitten stolen from his cage at the Shelter Hope Pet Shop. Plus, some holiday cheer comes to Carousel Ranch. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, December 11, 2017
The next Castaic Lake Water Agency's Water Resources Committee meeting is Tuesday, December 12 at 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 12: CLWA Water Resources Committee Meeting
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold two special meetings, as well as its regular meeting on Tuesday, December 12, at 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.
Dec. 12: City Council Special, Regular Meetings
The next regular organizational meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, December 13 at 7 p.m.
Dec. 13: Hart School District Governing Board Meeting
Castaic School Board members held their annual organizational meeting on December 7 and elected officers and representatives of the board for 2018.
Castaic Union School District Names 2018 Officers, Reps
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has released findings from an 18-month survey of arts education in K-12 public schools.
County Arts Commission Unveils Findings from K-12 Arts Ed Profile
The Thomas Fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has now consumed 230,500 acres, according to Ventura County Fire Department officials Monday morning, up from 170,000 a day earlier.
Thomas Fire Explodes to 230,500 Acres, 15 Percent Contained
Bank of Hope has given California State University, Northridge $20,000 to help expand the university’s VITA income tax preparation assistance program for low-income families and individuals during the 2018 tax season.
CSUN Receives $2K Grant for VITA Income Tax Prep Clinic
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 live action short films will advance in the voting process for the 90th Academy Awards.
10 Live Action Shorts Advance in 2017 Oscar Race
The city of Santa Clarita is accepting submissions from local photographers for its Winter 2017 Photo Contest through December 31.
Dec. 31: City Winter Photo Contest Entry Deadline
The county and city of Los Angeles have activated the 211 LA County Disaster Hotline for residents to report damage caused by the December 2017 Creek, Rye and Skirball Fires in Los Angeles.
County, City of L.A. Fire Up 2-1-1 Disaster Hotline
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will provide limited services for victims of Los Angeles and Ventura wildfires at two assistance centers starting Tuesday.
DMV to Provide Services at 2 Fire Assistance Centers
The city of Santa Clarita invites residents to join in for a night of dancing at community holiday dances on in Newhall on Friday night and Canyon Country on Saturday night.
Dec. 15, 16: Holiday Dances at Canyon Country, Newhall Community Centers
The county and city of Los Angeles will open a local assistance center for victims of the recent wildfires on Tuesday, December 12 that will operate daily through Saturday, December 16.
Assistance Center for LA Wildfire Victims Opens Tuesday
Hannah Ostrom scored a career-high 25 points and The Master's University women's basketball team overcame some nine-day rust to beat CalTech 87-58 Saturday afternoon in Pasadena.
TMU’s Hannah Ostrom Too Much for CalTech
The Master’s University men's basketball team's 126-70 win over visiting Westcliff University on Friday was the Mustangs' eighth straight win.
Mustangs Roll Past Westcliff 126-70 for 8th Straight Win
College of the Canyons sophomore soccer player Angel Quintero has been named the Western State Conference East Division Player of the Year to lead a class of 12 Cougars earning postseason awards.
Angel Quintero Among a Dozen COC Athletes to Earn All-WSC Status
College of the Canyons sophomore soccer forward Aaron Winsick has been named the Western State Conference South Division co-Player of the Year with a combined eight Cougars named to the all-conference squad.
COC’s Winsick Named Co-Player of the Year, 8 Cougars Win All-WSC Honors
The city of Santa Clarita’s Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program has a special discount available now for streetlight pole banners purchased as holiday gifts to honor actively serving military members from the Santa Clarita Valley. Banners can be purchased by individuals or organizations.
Hometown Heroes Military Banners Available as Holiday Gifts
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station crime prevention deputies have received reports of theft in which wallets are stolen from the purses of women shoppers.
When Shopping, Beware of Pocketbook Thieves