Chumash Indians were some of the first people to inhabit North
America. Evidence was found, showing that they have had settlements
on the Channel Islands and Santa Monica Mountains as far back as
thousands of years ago.
Ironically, the Chumash are now a people without land to call their
own, as most Chumash bands have not, with the exception of the Santa
Ynez Samala band, yet made the list of federally recognized
Once a thriving culture, the Chumash, as did other Native American
tribes, succumbed to Spanish conquistadors and American colonists.
There were at one time over 20,000 Chumash living along the California
coastline. The prehistoric and historic Chumash were a maritime
culture, using long wooden canoes called tomols to fish and travel
between different villages along the Pacific coast. The Chumash
were a hunter-gatherer tribe, and even though they were sedentary,
they did not farm the land.
The Chumash were physically and spiritually united with nature, and
did not waste any part of any animal they killed, or any plant they
pulled from the earth. They lived according to "nature's time",
and believed that man's greed and desire for supremacy could
eventually lead to his downfall.
The Chumash were a matriarchal society, meaning their lineage was
traced from the mother's side of the family, and that the Chief could
be either a man or a woman. They were also considered to be the
keepers of the Western Gate, and took this responsibility very
seriously, which is probably why knowledge of their respect of nature
is remembered as one of their defining traits.
The Chumash had a rich spiritual heritage, most of which has been
documented through their magnificent pictographs and petroglyphs,
songs, dances, and legends. The Chumash also enjoyed games and
they often played against other tribes in friendly Shinny Hockey
tournaments. In addition of sports, the Chumash also gambled,
having developed several variation of dice games. Gaming was as
educational as it was entertaining, as it served to teach the young
about diplomacy, ethics, and life skills.