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

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
72°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 21
1974 - COC's new Cougar Stadium opens for first game of football season; Harbor beats COC, 26-21 [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
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Friday, Sep 21, 2018
Sept. 29: Open House on Proposed High-Speed Rail Route Thru SCV
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has set an open house meeting in Agua Dulce on Saturday, Sept. 29 to gather public comment on the Palmdale to Burbank project section, which would closely follow Highway 14 through the Santa Clarita Valley.
Friday, Sep 21, 2018
Brown Signs Bill Boosting Consumer Protection for Service Members
Among the bills recently passed by California lawmakers and signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown was Assembly Bill 3212, designed to strengthen the state's consumer protections for service members and military families, including California National Guard soldiers and airmen.
Friday, Sep 21, 2018
California First State to Restrict Plastic Straws in Restaurants
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday inked legislation aimed at breaking society’s “infatuation” with plastic straws, beginning in 2019.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The contemporary art journal X-TRA and the Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles will present "The Un-Private Collection Workshop: Edgar Arceneaux" by the CalArts grad on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Sept. 22: Edgar Arceneaux Holds Financial Workshop at The Broad
The Master's University men's basketball team, which finished 29-3 last season, has released its 2018-19 schedule.
TMU Men’s Basketball Team Releases 2018-19 Schedule
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has launched an updated "Ready! Set! Go!" program to assist residents living in wildfire-prone areas.
Get Your Personal Ready! Set! Go! Wildfire Action Plan
The William S. Hart Union School District Board of Governors will recognize the district's 2018-2019 Teachers of the Year at the board's next regular meeting Wednesday night, Sept. 26.
Sept. 26: Hart Board to Honor District Teachers of the Year
The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, Sept. 26.
Sept. 26: Hart District Governing Board Regular Meeting
The intersection of Newhall Ranch Road and McBean Parkway will be closed Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., for the Federal Overlay Project being completed by the city of Santa Clarita to resurface the road.
Newhall Ranch Road, McBean Parkway Intersection to Close Tuesday Night
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has set an open house meeting in Agua Dulce on Saturday, Sept. 29 to gather public comment on the Palmdale to Burbank project section, which would closely follow Highway 14 through the Santa Clarita Valley.
Sept. 29: Open House on Proposed High-Speed Rail Route Thru SCV
Among the bills recently passed by California lawmakers and signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown was Assembly Bill 3212, designed to strengthen the state's consumer protections for service members and military families, including California National Guard soldiers and airmen.
Brown Signs Bill Boosting Consumer Protection for Service Members
TMU All-American senior Benji Tembo scored in overtime, handing The Master's a 3-2 victory over the visiting Flames on Reese Field on Thursday.
Tembo, Mangan Lead Mustangs to OT Victory
College of the Canyons has opened registration for a series of free, short-term career skills classes this fall in the afternoons, evenings and online.
COC Offers No-Cost Skills Classes Afternoons, Evenings, Online
A roundtable discussion about a proposed Los Angeles County fee-based business registration program is set for the Stevenson Ranch Library on Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: Roundtable on County’s Proposed Business Registration Fee
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, Sept. 25, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Sept. 25: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
The city of Santa Clarita has received the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation in recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance.
City Awarded Transparency Certificate of Excellence
College of the Canyons was ranked among the top 50 best U.S. colleges for adult learners in Washington Monthly magazine’s ranking of “Best Two-Year Colleges for Adult Learners.”
COC is No. 1 U.S. College for Adult Learners in SoCal
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday inked legislation aimed at breaking society’s “infatuation” with plastic straws, beginning in 2019.
California First State to Restrict Plastic Straws in Restaurants
A teenage female driver escaped serious injury when her van tipped over onto its left side on Dorothy Street in Santa Clarita Friday morning, according to authorities.
Teen Driver Escapes Serious Injury in Solo Tip-Over Crash
1974 - COC's new Cougar Stadium opens for first game of football season; Harbor beats COC, 26-21 [story]
The Old Town Newhall Association’s Chalk Art Festival is coming this weekend with dozens of local artists and organizations ready to share their works with the Santa Clarita Valley community.
Organizations, Local Artists Taking Part in This Weekend’s Chalk Art Festival
County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) encourages all pet owners to be prepared before disaster strikes.
Animal Care & Control Encourages Pet Owners to Prepare for Disasters
The contemporary art journal X-TRA and the Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles present, "The Un-Private Collection Workshop: Edgar Arceneaux" on Saturday, Sept. 22.
Sept. 22: CalArts Alum Presents Financial Workshop at Broad Museum
NORTHRIDGE - Senior defender Lindsay Kutscher has been selected as one of 30 women's soccer candidates for the Senior CLASS award.
CSUN’s Lindsay Kutscher Candidate for Senior CLASS Award
The Center for Digital Government (CDG) has presented the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation with one of its Best of California Awards, which recognize state and local government organizations for innovative technology initiatives.
County Parks & Recreation Recognized with Best of California Award
The city of Santa Clarita and Caltrans engineers have partnered with Caltrans to provide traffic enhancements.
City Implements Traffic Improvements at Sierra Highway, Golden Valley Road
Continuing the momentum developed from such programs as iTEENS during the school year and the Teen Summit hosted earlier in 2018, the city of Santa Clarita will host a teen leadership development training on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., at the Newhall Community Center (22421 Market Street).
Sept. 26: ‘I Can Achieve Now!’ Teen Leadership Workshop
NORTHRIDGE - CSUN's Michael Merchan has been named Co-Big West Athlete of the Week for men's cross country. Merchan is the first Matador men's cross country student-athlete to earn the award since it was established in 2001. Merchan shares the honor with Nick Randazzo of UCSB.
CSUN’s Merchan Nabs Big West Co-Athlete of the Week
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla stopped by Golden Valley High School Wednesday morning to encourage students to register to vote.
CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla Encourages Local Students to Vote
SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Air Resources Board, and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed suit Tuesday against the Trump Administration for its unlawful attempt to dismantle critical environmental waste protections.
Becerra Sues Trump Admin for Unlawful Attempt to Dismantle Waste Protections
Kaiser Permanente will open all seasonal flu clinics throughout Southern California on Saturday, Sept. 22, and urges all members to get their no-cost vaccinations early.
Sept. 22: Kaiser Permanente Opens Seasonal Flu Clinics Throughout So Cal
On Tuesday, The Home Depot Foundation increased its financial support to $3 million for disaster relief efforts and communities impacted by recent disasters, including Hurricane Florence, Olivia, the California wildfires and flooding in the Midwest.
Home Depot Foundation Increases Financial Support for Disaster Relief Efforts
Los Angeles County took a major step towards fostering a vibrant business ecosystem to help the local bioscience industry reach its full potential as a job-creating economic engine that advances breakthroughs in global health.
County Committed to Becoming Bioscience Global Leader
SACRAMENTO – Every day, thousands of parents and caregivers in California travel with children in their vehicle.
Sept. 23-29: Child Passenger Safety Week
The 3rd annual Gran Fondo Santa Clarita will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, beginning at 8:00 a.m.
Sept. 29: Gran Fondo Santa Clarita
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce invites you to their 34th annual Oktoberfest Golf Tournament, sponsored by Chiquita Canyon. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
Oct. 22: SCV Chamber’s 34th Annual Oktoberfest Golf Tournament
1954 - C-46 cargo plane crashes at Saugus Drunk Farm; Civil Air Patrol chaplains parachute to safety [story]
Filmmaker Magazine recently unveiled its annual roundup of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and CalArtians Hannah Peterson (Film/Video MFA 2018) and Richard Van (Film/Video MFA 2018) were included on the 2018 list.
CalArtians Among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Indie Film