SoCal’s Pre-Colonial People

historic-sight-seeing-tours-chumashSouthern California has been inhabited for many thousands years. Let’s explore some of our Native-American historic places! A region we serve on a daily basis as the largest transportation provider – Santa Barbara-, Ventura, & San Luis Obispo Counties – were all making up the areas of SoCal where the Chumash people inhabited. In this article, we will explore some of the historic and educational places where you can see, learn, and experience the Chumash culture and history. From reconstructed villages to thousand year old petroglyphs, there are tons of spots throughout the area where you can experience our counties’ native history and indigenous people. Did you know the Chumash could be the first builders of canoes in North America? Or that the Chumash traded with neighbors such as the Tongva people? And did you know that there are numerous caves you may visit to see pictographs dating back thousands of years? Or that the city name of Malibu comes from a Chumash word? Let’s explore some of SoCal’s great Native-American, pre-colonial history!

 

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The Chumash Painted Cave is a popular and educational getaway

Just 11 miles from the American Riviera we transferred customers on one of our sight seeing tours to the Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park. Foreign tourists wanting to see the thousand-year-old pictographs made by the city’s indigenous population. What makes these paintings unique is the fact that you can see them close up, only separated a few inches by a fence. This is unlike many other “pre-historic” Chumash paintings in the region, e.g. Burro Flats Painted Cave in Simi Valley or other cities such as Newbury Park and Camarillo. On the National Register of Historic Places, Santa Barbara’s Painted Cave is one of the most convenient and easy places to witness California’s ancient history. The rock paintings here are one in a kind, and it is interesting to see Santa Barbara wine tour clients trying to interpret the different paintings. But we did the research! Look for instance for the sign for the sun: red with a ring around it. You can also see signs for all kinds of other things, including men, women, fertility (a line with another line going through it), water (zic zac line), and water (several vertical lines leading to a horizontal line.) Chumash pictographs can also be seen at Painted Rock on the Carrizo Plain of San Luis Obispo County.

 

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Venture out to the Channel Islands to learn more about the Chumash way of life!

Another possible destination for people interested in Chumash history is the California Channel Islands. Maybe easiest visited on a ferry trip with the Island Packers, the Channel Islands National Park is home to an abundance of native history. There were more than 1,200 Chumash islanders living on the islands, which also was home to ten villages. You’d be surprised, but more than 300,000 Chumash artifacts have been discovered on these islands! Our local clients and foreigners flying in and using our LAX airport limos have all told us about how these islands show how California once looked. Although largely undeveloped, the islands are popular for many recreational activities. Many like to go on hikes photographing the native landscape and looking for some of the endemic wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. Others visit “North America’s Galapagos” to camp overnight, while some visit to go scuba-diving or kayaking. Some simply bring a book and visit the islands to spend the day alone on one of the many beaches. Areas of Native-American history here include petroglyphs in Olsen’s Cave on Santa Cruz Island, or Jones Cave on Santa Rosa Island. Santa Rosa, once called Wi’ma by the islanders, was populated for over 13,000 years!

 

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The Painted Rock in San Luis Obispo has hundreds of ancient pictographs!

To explore some of the different unique artifacts that have been discovered, there are many choices you have. Some Santa Barbara limo clients head to the Mission, Natural History Museum, or the Historical Society. For clients further north, check out San Luis Obispo’s Hollister Adobe Museum, the Historical Museum, or the Mission San Luis Obispo Museum. In Ventura, the most popular places of Chumash significance include the Albinger Archeological Museum, the Ventura County Museum of History and Art, or the San Buena Ventura Mission Museum. If you’re by Ojai, check out the Ojai Valley Museum, or in Santa Maria see the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society Museum. The Santa Ines Mission is your best bet in Solvang, Carpinteria has the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History and Historical Society, while Lompoc is home to the La Purisima Mission State Historical Park and the Lompoc Museum. In LA County? Check out the Chumash Discovery Village in Malibu or the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Mostly interested in historical displays? Check out the Presidio. Most interested in seeing how they live? On the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks and at the Chumash Discovery Village in Malibu there are reconstructed Chumash villages. The re-constructed village tours are popular for people on sight seeing tours, families on an educational outing with or without kids, and even for classes of school children in a party bus or two.

 

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The Chumash often ventured over the Channel to visit the islanders on the Channel Islands

Did you know that several cities throughout the region have names derived from the Chumash language? We recently learned this from curious tourists ordering an airport sedan to head straight to the reconstructed village in Thousand Oaks. Did you for instance know the city name Point Mugu derived from the Chumash name Muwu? Or Port Hueneme from Weneme? Malibu was once Humaliwo, Lompoc was Lompo, and Simi Valley was Shimiyi, which eventually became Simi. The Chumash traded with various groups in the area, including the Tongva Indians of today’s Los Angeles County. While the northern Channel Islands were inhabited by Chumash Islanders, the southern islands (San Nicolas-, San Clemente-, San Clemente Islands) were all populated by the neighboring Tongva people. There are evidence that suggests these groups not only interacted on each other’s territories, but they also sailed with canoes to visit and do trade with other indigenous peoples. Experts riding with our limousine service have explained that they traded with the Yokuts people in the north to get tobacco and obsidian, while traded with the inland Mojave people to get items more abundant in the desert regions of the Mojave Indians.

 

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Check out the replica of an ancient Chumash village at the Thousand Oaks Chumash Museum!

So how many Chumash were there? Anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber estimated a Chumash population of 10,000 as of 1770, while Alan K. Brown believed it to have been 15,000 in the 1770’s. Sherburne F. Cook estimated a total population of between 8,000 and 20,000 when the Europeans first came to California. What we do know however is that the native population sank drastically when discovered by European settlers. By the year 1900, only 200 Chumash Indians were left. By the U.S. Census of 2000, the Chumash population had increased though to a total number of 4,032 individuals. Having inhabited Southern California for over 12,000 years, the Chumash is definitely a group worth knowing more about, and in that way, also learning more about our state’s great history! Whether you are searching for a Santa Barbara wine tour, transportation for your prom or wedding day, or to learn more about the state’s unique history at the many historic venues and museums, call us for more information on our luxury transportation services. Our fleet is the largest in the region, containing party buses, stretch limos, sedans, SUV’s, and other specialty vehicles for any group.

Looking for an LA- or Santa Barbara limo to Las Vegas? We can help you! Recently we had clients on this long trip as well wanting to take a break in Sloan, Nevada. This little hidden away small-town may didn’t seem like much, but our clients decided to stop here to visit the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area after having researched it online. And boy were we wrong! Sloan was home to hundreds of several thousands of years old rock paintings! Looking for LAX airport limos? A party bus for a night on town with friends? Or maybe just a chauffeured vehicle for a special night on town with your love(d) one(s). Contact your local SoCal transportation company today!

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