The 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 warmth. 

Today only the Samala subdivision of the Chumash are legally recognized by the federal government of the United States.   

This picture is from the book, The Chumash Indians by Martin Schwabucher.


Here is some links for you to visit if you would like
to know more about the Chumash people.


The Chumash people: Materials for teachers and students

Secret of Chumash social life

Brief history of the Chumash people

"The Chumash ceremonial costume of a Shaman"



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