FOOD, MEDICINE AND CLOTHING


The Chumash were a hunting, fishing, and gathering tribe, getting most of their food from the sea, but also eating roots, plants, nuts and seeds. 

The most popular vegetarian food item was the oak acorn, which they painstakingly dried, ground, and leached to eliminate the bitterness.  The acorn flour was used to make soup and mush which was eaten on a daily basis. It is estimated that the average Chumash individual consumed up to 300 pounds of acorns in a year. Chia sage and seaweed were also often on the menu.

The Chumash Shaman used everything from bay leaves and willow bark which helped cure headaches to Miner's Lettuce from which laxative tea was made.  The Shaman also smoked tobacco during his many healing rituals.

The Chumash ate fish and shellfish such as abalone and clams, and they also ate sea mammals such as seal and otter.  From the land, they hunted quails, and ducks, and large mammals such as bears and deer,  from which they made made everything from clothes to musical instruments.

While we are on the subject of clothes, the Chumash, as with the other California tribes such as the Mojave Indians, did not wear much clothing, with the exception of short deerskin skirts and aprons worn by the women.  Most of the men, save for the wealthier members of the community who wore deerskin capes,  were completely nude, save for a small leather belt used to hold their hunting knives and other tools. 

During festivals and ceremonies, the Chumash would wear headdress decorated with hawk, eagle, and woodpecker feathers, seashells, and even animal skulls.


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Last modified: May 09, 2003