Chumash Indians were not like the Indians we know from the
Western novels or movies. These people belonged to a very old
tribe. They lived all around California's central coast. They
were once the largest cultural group among western tribes.
Before the mission period the Chumash lived in 150 independent villages
with a total population of about 20,000 people, but they were
greatly reduced when the Spanish, Mexican and American
missionaries insisted they become Christians. So soldiers were
sent out to the Chumash villages to bring the Chumash by force
if necessary into the mission. Families were broken up, men and
women forced to live separately. They died by thousands in
epidemics of smallpox and malaria. California's Indian
population dropped from approximately 310,000 in 1769 to 30,000
by the end of the gold rush in 1860.
Each Chumash family
lived in a house called "An Áp", the houses were usually
12 to 20 feet long. They were a very creative and artistic
people. The Chumash created some of the finest rock paintings
found throughout the chaparral region north of Los Angeles. They
are also known for their fine basketry made with the twining
method and for their money made from sea shells and their
invention of the plank canoe. The Chumash Indians didn´t were
much clothing, the women usually wore a two-piece skirt of deer
skin or plant fiber. The men wore almost nothing at all, but in
the winter they sometimes wear capes of animal skins for
Today only the
Samala subdivision of the Chumash are legally recognized by the
federal government of the United States.
picture is from the book, The Chumash Indians by Martin Schwabucher.
is some links for you to visit if you would like
to know more about the Chumash people.
"The Chumash ceremonial costume
of a Shaman"