Chumash People

Chumash Indians


The Chumash People, also known as the Chumash Indians, are a Native American people who have historically inhabited San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, the Santa Clara River Valley and the Ojai Valley in Ventura County, and Los Angeles County, including three of the Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Many of them lived in the Santa Monica Mountains, Agoura Hills, Malibu, and Thousand Oaks. It is believed that the Chumash People inhabited areas of Southern California as long as ten thousand years before the Spanish claimed California. The early Chumash People were primarily hunters and fisherman. The Chumash Interpretive Center and Museum is located in Thousand Oaks while Chumash Park is located in Agoura Hills. The Chumash Indians are sometimes referred to as the Santa Barbara Indians because they lived in the area of present day Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.


Chumash Painted Cave and Historic Park

The Chumash Painted Cave and Historic Park, established in 1976, is part of the California State Park System and is located northwest of Santa Barbara. The 7.5 acre site is one of the few remaining locations where original Chumash rock art can be seen.


Chumash Rock Art

Chumash Rock Art is a genre of paintings found in caves, on mountains, and on other rock surfaces created over a period of several thousand years in Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and San Luis Obispo County. The art is generally quite detailed and is believed to be related to astronomy and religion.


Chumash Pictograph Sites

There are 26 known Chumash Pictograph sites within the Santa Monica National Recreation Area. A pictograph is a drawing or other form of art. Each of these sites is sacred to the Chumash People. The sites have been described by the National Park service as “unique and a significant world heritage.”


Chumash Tribal Government

As an independent and sovereign nation, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians follow the laws set forth in their tribal constitution which is similar to the United States Constitution and the California Constitution. The sovereignty of Native American Tribes, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, is fully recognized by the federal government and all state governments.


Santa Ynez Reservation

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

The residents of the Santa Ynez Reservation are members of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians which is the only federally recognized Chumash tribe in the United States. Currently there are more than 260 residents on the Reservation, more than 100 homes, and the Chumash Casino Resort which is the largest employer of the Chumash People. The resort consists of a casino and 106 room hotel. In accordance with federal law, the Santa Ynez Reservation is treated as a sovereign nation.


Chumashan Languages

Chumashan languages are a group of languages that were spoken by the Chumash Indians who lived on the Southern California coast from San Luis Obispo to slightly south and east of Malibu, and including three of the Channel Islands: Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Cruz. All of the Chumashan languages have become extinct. The last known speaker died in 1965. The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has established a program designed to revive the language.


Chumash Language Program

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has established a ten week language class designed to provide students with the necessary skills to speak, read, and write the native language of the Chumash People. Your ancestors do not have to be Chumash to enroll in the class.


Chumash Words

Words that we use every day that originate from the Chumash People and language include:

Castaic (Lake Castaic)
Hueneme (Point Hueneme)
Malibou (Malibou Lake)
Mugu (Point Mugu)
Pismo (Pismo Beach)
Simi (Simi Valley)

The language of the Chumash People is known as Chumashan.


Wishtoyo Foundation

The Wishtoyo Foundation, established in 1997, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Chumash Native American culture and the overall environment. The Wishtoyo Foundation has restored the centuries old historic Chumash Village in Malibu. The Wishtoyo Chumash Discovery Village is a great place for the entire family to visit.


Burro Flats Painted Cave

The Burro Flats Painted Cave is located on private land in eastern Ventura County owned by Boeing. The cave is near the historic Chumash settlement of Hu’wam along the upper Bell Creek in the Simi Hills between Simi Valley and Bell Canyon and West Hills. The site is located directly north of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space, previously known as the Ahmanson Ranch. The cave contains numerous pictographs that are preserved and in excellent condition. While the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, it is not open to the public at this time.


American Indian Resource Center

The American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) was formed in 1979 for the purpose of meeting the informational, educational, and cultural needs of American Indians, including the Chumash People, the Tongva People, and the Tataviam People. It is the largest public library collection in the United States that focuses on Native Americans. It includes tribal codes, books, films, microfilm, newspapers, compact discs, videocassettes, and more. The American Indian Resoure Center is headquartered in Huntington Park which is in the eastern part of Los Angeles County.


Southern California Indian Center

The Southern California Indian Center, Inc. (SCIC) is an organization in Los Angeles whose goals include educating the American Public on Indian issues and culture. The organization also represents the interest of the Chumash People, Tongva People, the Tataviam People, and other Native Americans.


Native American Heritage Commission

The Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC), established in 1976, oversees Native American graves and sacred sites in California, making sure they are protected from destruction, notifying tribes when human remains or artifacts are found, and in the case of ancient graves, determining which Native group will become custodian of human remains and artifacts. The commission also watches over shrines, churches, and other sites sacred to Native Americans that are on public property, and maintains a list of these sites. The Chumash People, Tongva People, and Tatviam People have benefited from the work of the Native American Heritage Commission.


Mount Pintos

Mount Pintos (Mt. Pintos) is a mountain in the Los Padres National Forest and the highest point in Ventura County and the eleventh highest in California. Mt. Pintos was considered to be the center of the world by the Chumash People when they inhabited the area in large numbers. The mountain was known as Iwihinmu in the Chumash language. From the summit, at 8,831 feet, the lights of Bakersfield in Kern County are visible. Hiking trails lead to the summit.


Santa Ynez Mountains

The Santa Ynez Mountains is an east-west mountain range in Santa Barbara County that extends eastward to northern Ventura County. The mountain range is contiguous with the Topatopa Mountains to the east and are primarily within the Los Padres National Forest. The highest point, which is unnamed, reaches 4,864 feet. Other mountain peaks are Divide Peak rising to 4,707 feet, Santa Ynez Peak rising to 4,298 feet, and La Cumbre Peak rising to 3,985 feet. The Santa Ynez Mountains run parallel to the Channel Islands which are to the south. The islands are an extension of the Santa Monica Mountains. The first people known to inhabit the Santa Ynez Mountains were the Chumash People, also known as the Chumash Indians, who settled in the area thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.


Cuyama River

The Cuyama River is a 118-mile long river that flows through San Luis Obispo County, northern Santa Barbara County and northern Ventura County. The river was named after the Chumash Indian village of Kuyam that once existed. The source of the river is the San Emigdio Mountains, within the Chumash Wilderness area of the Los Padres National Forest, at the confluence of Alamo Creek and Dry Canyon Creek. The mouth of the river is the Santa Maria River just east of the city of Santa Maria. Tributaries include Santa Barbara Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Mustang Creek, Pine Creek, Quatal Creek, and the Huasna River.


Sisquoc River

The Sisquoc River is a 57.4 mile long river that flows to the west in northeastern Santa Barbara County. It is a tributary of the Santa Maria River which originates where the Sisquoc River meets the Cuyama River just north of the town of Gary. The source of the Sisquoc River are the northern slopes of Big Pine Mountain in the San Rafael Mountains and Los Padres National Forest. The mouth of the river is where it meets the Cuyama River. Sisquoc is a Chumash word meaning “quail”. The Chumash People inhabited the area along the Sisquoc River and Cuyama River for thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.


Sisquoc Falls

The Sisquoc Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Southern California standing at 250 feet. The water plunges off the edge into a long and deep pool of water with many smaller cascades occurring both above and below the main drop. Sisquoc Falls, located in the San Rafael Mountains of Santa Barbara County, are difficult to access, requiring nearly a twenty mile one way hike from the nearest road. The falls are located inside the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary in the remote San Rafael Wilderness on Falls Canyon Creek, a tributary of the Sisquoc River. Consequently, the falls are off-limits to the public, making it necessary to view the falls from a distance.


Shalawa Meadow

Shalawa Meadow is a three acre seaside meadow in Montecito, California just east of Santa Barbara that was used as a burial site by the Chumash People before the area was claimed by Spain. The site is used for ceremonies by the Chumash People during certain times of the year. The area along the coast is one of the most important archaeological regions in California, having been inhabited by the Chumash People for more than 12,000 years.


California State Indian Museum

The California State Indian Museum is a museum in the State Park System interpreting the cultures of the indigenous peoples of California which includes the Chumash People, the Tongva People, and the Tataviam People. The museum is in Sacramento.


Southwest Museum of the American Indian

The Southwest Museum of the American Indian is a museum, archive, and library located in the Mount Washington section of Los Angeles and is part of the Autry National Center which is headquartered in Griffith Park. Its collection pertains to the American Indians, including the Chumash People, the Tongva People, and the Tataviam People. The museum is open to the public most weekends.


Carpinteria Valley Museum of History

The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, located in Carpinteria and operated by the non-profit Carpinteria Valley Historical Society, offers exhibits that reflect the history of the Chumash Indians in Southern California. The museum is open to the public and includes an excellent research library and gift shop.


National Indian Education Association

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA), established in 1970 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and now headquartered in Washington D.C., is the only national, non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the education of Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Goals include improving the schools and the teaching of Native American students, and promoting the development of Native American languages in addition to English. NIEA is a private organization governed by a twelve member board. It is supported by donations and memberships.


Mission Indians

Mission Indians refers to the indigenous peoples of California including the Chumash People, the Tongva People, and the Tataviam people who were sometimes forcibly relocated from their homes and villages to live and work at twenty-one Spanish Missions. The missions were established between 1796 and 1823 by Spain and were controlled by Spain until 1834 when Mexico gained control when it became independent.


Santa Barbara Indians

The Santa Barbara Indians is a commonly used name for the Chumash Indians derived from the fact that the Chumash People occupied the area that is currently Santa Barbara County for thousands of years before the arrival of the Spanish explorers.


Canalinos Indians

The Canalinos Indians were part of the Chumash nation and inhabited the area around Port Hueneme in Ventura County extending north and west into the Hope Ranch section of Santa Barbara County.


Indigenous Peoples of California

The Indigenous Peoples of California are the people who lived in California before and after the arrival of the Spanish who claimed the area for Spain. While there are and were many indigenous people, the largest groups in Southern California are the Chumash People, the Tongva People, and the Tataviam People.


Chumash Wilderness

The Chumash Wilderness, named for the Chumash People, is a wilderness area in the mountains of Ventura County and southwestern Kern County within the Los Padres National Forest. The Chumash Wilderness was created by Congress in 1992 as part of the Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act. The Chumash Wilderness area is a habitat for mountain lions, black bears, and the endangered California Condor. The highest point in the Chumash Wilderness in Sawmill Mountain.


Sawmill Mountain

Sawmill Mountain is the highest peak in the Chumash Wilderness and is located on the county line between Ventura County and Kern County in the Los Padres National Forest. Its elevation is 8,822 feet. Sawmill Mountain is the highest point in Kern County and the second highest in the Los Padres National Forest behind Mount Pintos which stands 25 feet higher at 8,847 feet. From the summit, the lights of Bakersfield in Kern County are clearly visible. A hiking trail leads to the top of the mountain. Sawmill Mountain and the surrounding area was home to the Chumash People, also known as the Chumash Indians, for thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.


Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center

The Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center is a non-profit organization that strives to share Native American history, heritage, and culture of the five regional tribes of the Angeles National Forest. These include the Tongva Indians, the Chumash Indians, the Tataviam Indians, the Kitanemuk Indians, and the Serrano Indians. The cultural center, which is open to the public, is located at the intersection of Angeles Crest Highway (Hwy 2) and Mount Wilson Red Box Road in the Angeles National Forest which is in the San Gabriel Mountains.


Wishtoyo Chumash Village

The Wishtoyo Chumash Discovery Village is an authentic re-creation of a Chumash Village. It is located in Malibu on a four acre site at Nicholas Canyon County Beach on a bluff overlooking Malibu Lagoon and Santa Monica Bay. It is definitely worth visiting.



Takuyumam is a former Chumash Indian village in Newhall which is a community in the City of Santa Clarita located in the Santa Clarita Valley region of Los Angeles County.


Shishuchi’i’, California

Shishuchi’i’ was a Chumash Indian village located in what is today Santa Barbara, near Refugio State Beach. The Chumash People occupied the Coast of Santa Barbara County for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers and the seizure of the land in the name of Spain.


Chumash Parks

The cities of Agoura Hills in western Los Angeles County, and the cities of Ventura and Simi Valley in Ventura County, have recognized the Chumash Indians by naming community parks in their honor.


Chumash Indian History

The Chumash Indians, also referred to as the Chumash People, lived primarily along the coast of California, from Malibu to San Luis Obispo, as well as on the Channel Islands for thousands of years. It is estimated that over 20,000 Chumash Indians lived in California before the area became inhabited by the Spanish and Mexican settlers. Due primarily to disease, by 1900, the population of Chumash had been reduced to a few hundred. Today, there are more than 5,000 people claiming to be of Chumash descent. The history of the Chumash Indians is an important part of the history of California.


Calleguas Creek Site

The Calleguas Creek Site refers to a 1.4 acre archeological site on the Oxnard Plain and Calleguas River near Oxnard in Ventura County. The site was once home to five Chumash Indian Villages and burial sites. Its location has not been made available to the public while archeological exploration continues.


Northern Chumash Tribal Council

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC) is a sovereign California Native American Tribal Government located in San Luis Obispo, California. NCTC is dedicated to the preservation and protection of Chumash heritage.


Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Day

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as Native American Heritage Month. The declaration was intended to honor and provide a platform for Native Americans to share their history, culture, music, traditions, and contributions with other Americans. Native American Heritage Month incorporates Native American Heritage Day which is a civil holiday observed on the Friday following Thanksgiving. The law establishing Native American Heritage Month was supported by 184 federally recognized tribes including the Chumash, the Tongva, and the Tataviam.


Tribal Sovereignty in the United States

Tribal Sovereignty in the United States is the inherent authority of indigenous tribes, such as the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, to govern themselves within the borders of the United States. Indian tribes do not have the authority to print currency or conduct foreign affairs, but may establish their own law enforcement departments and courts.


Chumash Revolt of 1824

The Chumash Revolt of 1824 was an uprising of the Chumash Indians that lasted from February 21 through February 24. The rebellion occurred in response to the Spanish and Mexican presence at Mission Santa Barbara, Mission State Ine’s, and Mission La Purisima. While the Spanish and Mexicans converted many of the Chumash People to Christianity, many of the Chumash wanted the Spanish and Mexicans to leave the land they occupied for thousands of years.


Morro Rock

Morro Rock is a prominent 581 foot volcanic rock located just offshore from Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County, California. Climbing on the rock is forbidden by law except for the Salinan and Chumash Indian tribes which consider the rock to be a sacred site. The Chumash People had a significant settlement near Morro Rock as early as 6000 BC and have the legal right to climb the rock for their annual solstice ceremony. Likewise, the Salinan People have the right to climb the rock as part of an annual celebration.


Sawmill Mountain

Sawmill Mountain is the highest point in the Chumash Wilderness standing at 8,822 feet. The mountain is on the border of Ventura County and Kern County.


Chumash Casino Resort

The Chumash Casino Resort, opened in 1994, is owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians which is the only federally recognized Chumash tribe in the nation. The resort is a 190,000 square foot complex featuring 24-hour gaming, first class entertainment, fine dining, casual dining, and a magnificent 106 room hotel. The Chumash Casino Resort is the largest employer of the Chumash People.


Tejon Indian Tribe of California

The Tejon Indian Tribe of California is a federally recognized tribe of indigenous people of California which includes the Chumash People.


Witmat Island

For thousands of years, the Chumash People occupied Witmat, now known as Santa Rosa Island, which is off the coast of Southern California and part of the Channel Islands. The Chumash called the island Witmat, which refers to the redwood logs that drifted in large quantities from northern California onto the island’s beaches. The Chumash Indians used these logs to construct plank boats which were used for fishing and transportation. The name of the island was changed to Santa Rosa Island after the arrival of the Spanish.


Historical Timeline

Pacific Realtors has created a historical timeline for those having an interest in the history of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.









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