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Chumash [archive]

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Central California, from Estero Bay in the north to Malibu Canyon in the south, and from Carizzo Plain in the east to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands in the west. The Northern Chumash call themselves Stishni and are in some ways distinct from other Chumash people.


The Chumash originally did not cultivate. They hunted wildlife and marine animals including, fish, shellfish, whales, seals, sea otters, shark, sea birds, albacore, tuna, sardines, deer, wild game, grizzly and black bear, mountain lion, fox, coyote, badger, quail, pigeons, and doves. The Chumash Indians also used animals for a variety of tools, such as needles, fishhooks, and sandpaper. They also made spear-throwers, atl-atl, bow and arrows and fishnets. Plank canoes (tomal in Chumash or cayuco in Stishni) made out of redwood or pine were the most important tool for the Chumash, because they were used for fishing, and travel between different tribes along the coast and neighboring islands. Domed houses approximately 30 feet in diameter were their shelter. At the time of missionaries (about the 1700s) the population was ten to twenty thousand, but the turn of the 20th century the population had dwindled to 200 descendents. The Chumash Indians also minted their own bead money (anchum) made from the Olivella shell (also known as the Purple Olive) but only the Indians that lived on the Channel Islands specialized in making the money. The Chumash made rock art in caves and on overhangs, the most abundant rock art is found in Los Padres National Forest. They are thousands of years old.

Additional Reading

 Chumash Indians
 Chumash Language
 Chumash Indian Words
 Chumash Mythology
 Indian Tribes of California

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