"Aerial view" by U.S. National Park Service , public domain

Channel Islands

Island Chumash

brochure Channel Islands - Island Chumash
Channel Islands National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Channel Islands National Park The Island Chumash An Introduction What’s in a Name Traditionally the Chumash people lived in an area extending from San Luis Obispo to Malibu, including the four Northern Channel Islands. Today, with the exception of the Islands, Chumash people live in these territories and areas far beyond. Approximately 148 village sites have been identified, including 11 on Santa Cruz Island, eight on Santa Rosa Island, and two on San Miguel Island. Due to the lack of a consistent water source, Anacapa Island was likely inhabited on a seasonal basis. A true maritime culture, the Chumash hunted and gathered natural resources from both the ocean and the coastal mountains to maintain a highly developed way of life. Today we have evidence of more than 13,000 years of Native American occupation of the islands, highlighted by the discovery of Arlington Springs Woman. Among the oldest dated human remains in North America, radio- carbon dating indicates she lived approximately 13,000 years ago. This rich, continuing history is a testament to the Chumash people and their iland home. Michumash is the word from which the name Chumash is Over time, many Chumash place names have been derived. Roughly translated, Michumash means “makers of altered to reflect the uses or perceptions of various shell bead money” and is the term mainland Chumash used to refer to those inhabiting the islands. other cultures. Anacapa Island, however, retains a name closest to the Chumash Anyapakh, meaning “mirage.” ‘Achum, or shell bead money was “minted” by the island Limuw: A Story of Place Chumash using small discs shaped from olivella shells and Santa Cruz Island, known by the Chumash people as drills manufactured from Santa Cruz Island chert. The Limuw, translates to “in the sea,” while Santa Rosa shell bead money was exchanged with mainland villages Island, or Wi’ma, means “redwood driftwood.” for resources and manufactured goods that were otherwise unavailable on the islands. Though no translation to modern English is known, San Miguel Island was referred to as Tuqan. Hutash, the Earth Mother, created the first Chumash that some of the Chumash people had to move off the people on the island of Limuw, now known as Santa Cruz. They were made from the seeds of a Magic Plant. island. They would have to go to the mainland, where there weren’t any people living in those days. Hutash was married to the Alchupo’osh, Sky Snake, the But how were the people going to get across the water to Milky Way, who could make lightning bolts with his the mainland? Finally, Hutash had the idea of making a tongue. One day, he decided to make a gift to the Chumash bridge out of a wishtoyo (rainbow). She made a very long, people. He sent down a bolt of lightning, and this started a very high rainbow that stretched from the tallest mountain fire. After this, people kept fires burning so that they could keep warm and cook their food. on Limuw all the way to Tzchimoos, the tall mountain near Mishopshno (Carpinteria). In those days, the Condor was a white bird. But the Hutash told the people to go across the rainbow bridge,and Condor was very curious about the fire he saw burning in fill the whole world with people. So the Chumash people the Chumash village. He wanted to find out what it was. started to go across the bridge. Some of them got across So he flew very low over the fire to get a better look. But he safely, but some people made the mistake of looking down. flew too close; he got his feathers scorched, and they It was a long way down to the water, and the fog was turned black. So now the Condor is a black bird, with just a swirling around. They became so dizzy that some of them little white left under the wings where they did not get burned. fell off the rainbow bridge, down through the fog, into the ocean. Hutash felt very badly about this, because she told them to cross the bridge. She did not want them to drown. After Alchupo’osh gave them fire, the Chumash people lived more comfortably. More people were born each year, and their villages got bigger and bigger. Limuw was getting crowded. And the noise people made was starting to annoy Hutash. It kept her awake at night. So, finally, she decided So, to save them, she turned them into dolphins. Now the Chumash call the dolphins their brothers and sisters. The Island Chumash often traded with mainland villages to acquire necessities that were scarce on the islands. Acorns, a staple in the Chumash diet, were one such trade item. Using a mortar and pestle, acorns can be ground into meal that is then leached to remove tannic acid. Grinding stones, including the mortar and pestle, are often made from sandstone, though hopper mortars exist. These mortars are constructed of a basket fashioned from Juncus and fastened to a grinding stone using asphaltum. The Tomol Chumash society featured an upper class of chiefs, pine pitch and asphaltum was used to seal the space shamans, boat builders, and artisan; a middle class of between boards. Sharkskin was used for sanding, red workers, fishermen and hunters; and a lower class of the poor and outcast. ochre for staining, and abalone for inlay and embellishment. The brotherhood of the tomol, an elite group of boat The use of the tomol allowed for an elaborate trade builders in the upper echelons of Chumash society, network between the islands and mainland, between constructed the plank canoe, or tomol, which is the oldest example of ocean watercraft in North America. natives and non- natives, and amongst the island communities themselves. Preferably constructed of redwood, which drifted down Today the Chumash Maritime Association, in partnership from Northern California, the tomol ranged from eight to 30 feet in length and held three to 10 people. with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park, continues the tradition of the tomol. In September 2001, paddlers rowed the tomol The tomol was constructed of a single piece of wood for ‘Elye’wun (swordfish) across the Santa Barbara Channel, the floor, with three or four rows of planks. Milkweed, completing the first channel crossing in more than 125 years. Future channel crossings are planned. yucca, dogbane, or sinew from deer was used as cordage to tie the tomol together. Yop, a glue consisting of a mixture of Missionization The Spanish were the first Europeans to visit the Chumash (1772—1822) was marked by the construction of five in 1542. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was impressed by the friendliness of the Chumash people who he encountered. Spanish missions in Chumash territory and continued outbreaks of disease, further decimating the population. However, along with European contact, came European diseases and conflict. The mission system depended on the use of native labor to propel industry and the economy. The social organization were devastating to the previously unexposed people of of Chumash society was restructured, leading to the erosion of previous power bases and further assimilation. North America and many Chumash people succumbed to disease. When California became part of Mexico, the government Even relatively minor illnesses, such as the common cold, secularized the missions, and the Chumash sank into the In an attempt to convert the native population to depths of poverty. By the time of the California gold rush, Christianity and secure the area for Spain against the the Chumash had become marginalized, and little was done to understand or help the remaining population. Russian and Aleut fur traders, the Chumash people were removed from their traditional lands. The Mission Era i sari wa; It Will Continue Indefinitely forgotten way of life. Much has been lost, but Chumash Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area 401 West Hillcrest Drive Thousand Oaks, California 91360- 4223 (805)370- 2300 community members take pride in their heritage and culture. Chumash Indian Tribal Elders Council Today, Chumash community members continue to move forward in their efforts to revive what was becoming a Post Office Box 517 With a current population nearly 5,000 strong, some Chumash people can trace their ancestors to the five Santa Ynez, California 93460 (805)688- 8446 islands of Channel Islands National Park. The Chumash reservation in Santa Ynez represents the only federally Candelaria American Indian Council recognized band, though it is important to note that several other Chumash groups exist. 1650 Palma Dr. Ventura, California 93003 (805)650- 8352 The National Park Service invites you to visit Channel Islands National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and other local areas to learn more about the Chumash and other Native American cultures. For more information please write or call: Channel Islands National Park 1901 Spinnaker Drive Ventura, California 93001 (805)658- 5730 EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 2559 Puesta del Sol Road Santa Barbara, California 93105 (805)682- 4711 Friends of Satwiwa 4126 Potrero Road Newbury Park, California 91320 (805)499- 2837

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