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The Chumash Indians Who Live in Ventura County
California

1999

[Commentary by Dr. John Anderson]


THE VENTURA CHUMASH

The Chumash Indians were once the largest cultural group in California.

After the American army invaded California, the newly empowered state government subdivided traditional Chumash lands when it created Ventura County. This county was surveyed a little north of Los Angeles, stretching from the Pacific coast inland to the snow covered Iwihinmu (Pine) Mountain which was the sacred center of the Chumash cosmos.

The new 'county' absorbed the lands of a number of traditional Chumash groups, disinheriting rival coastal and interior provinces. These subdivisions include the southwestern Malibu band (Humaliwu), the Mugu band (Muwu), the Ventura band (Mitskanaka), the Saticoy band, the Ojai band, and the Rincon band (Suku), among others. The Chumash islanders, especially those from Limu (Santa Cruz) island were influential among the coastal bands, including Muwu and Mitskanaka which was the site of the Ventura Mission located in the contemporary town of Ventura.

Today, the Chumash people of Ventura county are a diverse people belonging to a number of .... organizations. There is no one place you can go to make contact with all subdivisions, nor will you necessarily find a consensus of opinion on any given topic [John Anderson, Sept 14, 1999].


THE COASTAL BAND

The Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation includes members from the Ventura area, as well as other local counties. See Coastal for information on the current board of directors, whose Chairman is Slo'w Gutierrez. [The past Chairman was Alan Whitebear and the Vice Chairman is Wonono Rubio. This band submitted its preliminary application for federal recognition in 1982].

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Terminology

Ish Pahnesh United Band A Fernandeno band which previously had Chumash associations. See Oakbrook, for related information.

Lulapin This is the term used by some historians to refer to the coastal Chumash who lived in the Ventura, Oxnard, Mugu regions [and nearby inland areas].

Lulapin Indian Council A Chumash organization listed on the net as the California Indian Council- Lulapin. Richard Arguello is the Chairman, Thousand Oaks. Travis Hudson speculates that the term Lulapin "probably" designates the region of the Ventura County coast around Point Mugu (Breath of the Flute, glossary 169).

Mountain Chumash A vast area of Ventura County, including large areas of the coastal mountains, was controlled by a grouping of Chumash who spoke a distinctive language from that of the coastal populations. I use the phrase Mountain Chumash, to refer to this group which is also known by the Spanish nickname Tejon [John Anderson, Sept 12, 1999]

Oakbrook Band A number of Chumash families were formally associated with Oakbrook Park, along with Tongva of the San Fernando Valley. They applied in 1995 for federal recognition as the Ish Panesh Band of the Chumash. They werre also known as Oakbrook Park Chumash.  In time, however, the Chumash members of this group became less important and the Oakbrook Band evolved into the Ish Pahnesh United Band. Donna Yocum, Secretary of the tribal council, described this band as Fernandeno, not Chumash. She reported that this change has been properly recorded with the BIA, and that this group is no longer formally affiliated with the Chumash. [Email to J. Anderson, Nov 6, '2000. The Chairman of this band is John Valenzuela. Secretary Yocum can be contacted at 2060 D. Avenida De Los Arboles #317, Thousand Oaks, Ca 91362].

Tejon Chumash A Spanish name used loosely for any of the Mountain Chumash living in the general vicinity of Iwihinmu (Pine) mountain. This term came to be used for all of the Chumash who signed the 1851 Tejon treaty and lived on the Tejon Reservation. These Mountain Chumash spoke a distinctive language from that of the coastal Chumash, and they were often in conflict with the Chumash associated with Catholic 'mission' in Ventura.

United Band The Ish Panesh were formely known as the Ish Panesh United Band of Indians.

Ventureno A Spanish name used loosely for the Chumash who lived in the general vicinity of the Ventura 'mission' (Mitskanaka). Americans adopted this Spanish term to refer to Chumash living generally along the coast of Ventura County, plus a vaguely defined inland area that included the Ventura river, Santa Clara river, and the Calleguas creek. This loose application ignored traditional social and linguistic differences among the aboriginal peoples of this area. Compare Mountain Chumash for a rival group.


A College Course on the Lulapin Chumash

Moorpark College offers a [much needed] course on the history and culture of the Chumash Indians of Ventura County, California. See Prof. Lopez

Chumash Language Revitalization and the Satwiwa Center

The board of directors of Wishtoyo, a Chumash organization dedicated to renewal of Chumash culture,is working with the Satwiwa Center in a Chumash language renewal program called the Chumash Living Language Revitalization Project.

One of the stated objectives of the language renewal project is to increase the chances of cultural survival of the Chumash people. See language for more information. [The Satwia Center is located in the foothills above the Mugu Naval Center which currently has title to the Mugu wetlands. The Mugu harbor served as the headquarters of traditional Chumash, who were opposed to Spanish and Mexican colonization of the region now known as coastal Ventura county. J. Anderson, Oct 4, 2000].

* Please help keep this web page up-to-date, by contacting: amdes@altavista.net

This web page represents the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Chumash people, either individually or in a group. In my original September 14, 1999 statement, above, I included the word "band" because it was my impression that the Oakbrook Council was Chumash affiliated. Since that time I have learned that this council has shifted official identity to Fernandeno and dropped its Chumash affiliation. It would be helpful to hear from Chumash in Ventura County, to learn if they are organized into any Chumash band other than the Coastal Band.

email=amdes@earthlink.net