THE CHUMASH ISLANDERS

What Part of the California Islands Should be Returned to their Original Owners?

* THE CHUMASH INDIANS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WERE ONCE THE LARGEST CULTURAL GROUP IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES PRIOR TO EUROPEAN INTRUSION INTO THIS REGION.



The Chumash islands are located a little north of Los Angeles, in the waters now called the Santa Barbara Channel. In ancient times, the westernmost islands called Wimat (Santa Rosa) and Tukan (San Miguel) were the socio/political center of the Santa Barbara Channel. But when a series of European plagues swept through the region, the island of Limu (Santa Cruz) was the first to recover its population. The Antap government of Limu island thus led the coastal Chumash in their resistance to European intrusion.


When the last of the island families were forcibly relocated to production centers ('missions') on the mainland, Tukan and Wimat nationalists integrated into the Chumash workforces at Purisimo, Santa Ynez, and Santa Barbara.

Limu nationalists favored Ventura, prefering at first to work at the Mugu ranch from which they kept close ties with the Chumash labor force at Mitskanaka (Ventura 'mission' site). In time, the Mugu leadership was dispersed by the hostile Mexican government and church. Some joined relatives among the Humaliwu division of the Chumash, which mixed with the Tongva of Los Angeles and the militant Tejon Chumash of the interior.

Descendants of the Chumash islanders now live throughout Chumashia and are members of a number of contemporary Chumash groups.




* Unfortunately, not much progress has yet been made to translate the growing awareness of Native California land claims into concrete plans for increased Chumash and Tongva presence on the islands. You can help by lobbying your represensatives in Washington to vote for federal recognition of native title to parts of these islands.


* See Invisible_History for a critique of governmental educational materials about the Chumash islanders.


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* LIMU ISLAND: The largest of the channel islands, Limu was renamed Santa Cruz by the Spanish. Most of the island is owned by the Nature Conservancy (a non-profit association). Contact the Nature_Conservancy for information about their policies impacting the restoration of Limu island lands to the Chumash.

* WIMAT ISLAND: Wimat island has been renamed Santa Rosa by the Spanish. A private cattle rach now operates on a lease that expires in 2011. Contact the Channel_Island's_National_Park for information about Chumash involvement in their programs. Formal support by the park's administration for native land claims would have a positive impact on future lobbying efforts in Washington for restoration of Wimat lands to the Chumash in 2011.

* TUKAN ISLAND. Tukan was renamed San Miguel by the Spanish. It was the socio/political center of the Chumash islands prior to the introduction of European diseases into the Chumash Channel by Spanish sailors. Tukan and Wimat islands were closely linked, dominating the region's boatbuilding industry as a result of the redwood logs which drifted onto their beaches from northern ocean currents.

* ANACAPA ISLAND: The smallest of the Chumash islands, Anacapa has no permanent residents.

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* This page is meant as an introduction to the history of the Chumash islanders. It does not necessarily represent the views of any group, organization, or governmental body including the Chumash themsleves. Please contact bookman44@hotmail.net for comments, corrections, additions, and suggested links.

Related links: Chumash_Organizations | Kamuliyatset | Tukan_Island


Chumash_books by Dr. John Anderson:


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