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Who are the CHUMASH?


Long before the arrival of Europeans in north america, the Chumash people lived in Southern California, from Malibu to Paso Robles as well as on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

According to Chumash legend, they came to Santa Barbara from Santa Cruz Island across a rainbow bridge built by Hutash, the Chumash Earth Goddess. The Chumash were widely known for their sophisticated sea and inland trading system. Their artful crafts included pottery, masonry, and weaving baskets with distinctive geometrical designs. Their plant medicines contained substances which medical scientists today have found are sometimes effective in treating illnesses.

Dance and sacred ceremonies played a central role in Chumash life. Swordfish or Wot, chief of the ocean, as well as the Bear, Blackbird, Fox and Coyote were, and still are, important figures honored by the Chumash people during ceremonial festivities. The vivid Chumash rock paintings that exist today are among the finest in the world. The rich and vibrant history of the Chumash is a testament to the enduring cultural traditions of California's original settlers.

The Chumash Tribe


Language: Hokan

Where they lived: Southern California, around present day Santa Barbara

Kind of House: Large circular domed house of pole construction, covered with woven grass. Reed mats were used as partitions between families and to cover the floor.

What they ate: Acorns, pine nutes, cherries, seeds, berries, deer, small game, fish and waterfowl.

Interesting facts: The Chumash tribe consisted of at least six groups, spread throughout southern california. The head of each village was the richest man in the village. Wealth and position was handed down from father to son. The tribe mad very good baskets, water bottles, and other articles by weaving reeds together. Water bottles were coated on the inside with a kind of asphalt. The Chumash were well known for their long, light weight canoes That were made from wooden planks lashed together and coated with the same asphalt.