Chumash Indians

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 517
100 Via Juana Lane
Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Chumash Indians' population used to be up to tens of thousands. They lived along the coasts of California and there was even a time when their territory reached up to seven thousand square miles. The Seven thousand square miles land reached from the Malibu Beach up to the Paso Dobles. They also had a tribal property found in the San Joaquin Valley. The Chumash Indians call themselves as the "first people". They also set the Pacific Ocean as their first residence. According to some elders, their name means "bead maker" or the "seashell people". The Chumash Indians was blessed to have settled in a place where there are resources both in the land and water. Because of this, the tribe was considered more prosperous than other Native Americans.

The Chumash Indians were naturally regarded as hunters. They were also gatherers of berries, nuts and root crops. Aside from these, they are also fishermen place they were in. The tribe has several ceremonies that commemorate their ancestors and their ancestor’s way of living. They have festivities dealing with the good harvest and storage of food for the winter season. On winter, their shaman priests call upon several gatherings to celebrate the season. They usually dance in honor of their considered father, the Sun.

The Chumash Indians’ ancestors had huge, dome-shaped houses that allowed them to keep themselves warm even during the winter season. Their homes were made out of willow branches and whalebone was also used and their mats were made of tulle fiber. They were fond of their privacy that they protected themselves by using hanging reed mats from the ceiling. Their huge homes can accommodate as many as fifty family members and friends. The Chumash Indians also made use of the platforms as storage for their personal belongings.

The Chumash Indians are said to be the finest boat builders among the other tribes in the United States. They were the best in California. They made use of Northern California redwood trunks. With the use of driftwood from the Bay of Santa Barbara, the Chumash Indians learned the art of sealing the cracks between the boards of those great canoes. They also found tar as significant in eliminating the cracks.

Their culture is also composed of the basket weaving, the stone cookware and their unfathomable ability in the agrarian sector. Soon enough, their villages became permanent and they established their Chumash Indians’ community. They had society classes, too including shamans, chiefs, laborers, skilled crafters and the most prestigious, Chieftains. Their Chieftains were also known as the wots, who were the richest in the community. These people are given the highest priority and power. The position can be inherited so the pride remains in the same family for decades and even centuries.

These days, tribe takes pride in its Santa Ynez Band of Chumash casino in the Santa Ynez Reservation in California. The said band, on the other hand, is on its way to gaining its own recognition.

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