THE CHUMASH AND HOW THEY LIVED

 

 

 

The first settlers of North America filtered down from northeastern Asia and settled all of the western hemisphere perhaps beginning more than 13,000 years ago. While the settlement of the New World is probably more complex than is now generally understood, the Chumash may be descendants of some of those first settlers.

 

The oldest language group in California is thought to be "Hokan". The Chumash people were generally thought to have been Hokan speakers, although there is evidence that the Chumash language may be unrelated to any other language group. The Chumash language was made up of several dialects, one of which, Ventureno, was spoken in Simi Valley. Historically, the Chumash territory extended along the southern and central California coast from Point Dume in the Malibu area northwestward to included the San Luis Obispo area and inland into the southern Salinas Valley and the mountains of northern Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

 

The early settlement in the Chumash area goes back at least 13,000 years. While only a few carbon-14 dates have been done in Simi Valley, one (CA-VEN-622) yielded a date of 4,000 years before present. A site (CA-VEN-95) near the western end of Simi Valley is thought, on the basis of stone tool assemblages, to have been occupied during the Late-archaic or Millingstone horizons. Another, CA-VEN-627, was occupied several thousand years ago. Chumash society evolved within its specific geographical area over this long period of time based upon abundant resources along the coast, where deep sea fisheries, shoreline marine resources, coastal estuarine resources, and mainland resources all come together along a largely east-west coastline protected from northwesterly winds and swells by the mainland and southern and southwesterly swells by the offshore islands.

 

The first Spanish explorers were impressed by the Chumash as having a more advanced culture than their neighbors to the south and to the north in terms of complex social structure, material goods and long distance trade. Tribes to the east and the southeast were of Shoshonian stock and had invaded Southern California from the desert interior, i.e., the Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions, 1,300 to 900 years ago in response to a several century long drought. Those people came from largely nomadic hunting and gathering groups, which lived in small family units in a desert environment. Unlike these relatively new neighbors, the Chumash were concerned with manufacturing, had developed a monitized systems of trade during the last 1,000 years based on shell beads and a complex class system with a pan-village social order. There were specialized craftsmen and traders, with a strong work ethic, and a deep sea fisheries. The Chumash plank canoe, i.e., the "tomol", especially impressed the Spanish.1 With those boats, trade with the farthest islands was possible.

 

The record of Chumash settlement can be divided into three periods.2 The "Early Period" lasted from about 7,000-1,500 B.C. There were permanent settlements with cemeteries. Many kinds of artifacts remained relatively stable throughout the period, indicating social continuity even though society grew in complexity. Long distance trade over hundreds of miles and trade with the islands took place. Deep sea fishing, including the exploitation of large marine mammals, occurred, and land mammals, primarily deer and rabbits, were hunted. Vegetative resources, such as nuts and seeds, were gathered, processed and stored. Meat was dried for storage. The mano (grinding stone) and metate (grinding slab) were used. Most settlements were small and on elevated defensive positions. There were probably some regional ceremonial centers and some larger settlements.

 

The "Middle Period" lasted from about 1,500 B.C. to 1,150 A.D. There were changes and an elaboration in artifacts. Defined cemeteries were established. They may reflect political control by hereditary leaders, economic stratification and separate religious leaders with great social influence. There was a reduced tendency for settlements to be in defensive positions. This probably reflects larger settlement sizes and greater political stability across the subregion.

 

The "Late Period" extended from 1,150 A.D. to the historic period. It witnessed rapid population growth and a shift from smaller to larger settlements. Permanent settlement emerged in the interior, possibly in response to the necessity of holding territory as a result of the Shoshonian migration out of the desert interior in response to drought. Important trade centers emerged and political and religious systems became more widespread.

 

The Chumash in Simi Valley followed a seasonal rhythm of life. They lived in central villages in extended family groups. Seasonally, extended families would leave their villages to go to encampments in areas where they "owned" or had the rights to resources. Hunting was done throughout the year, although some animals, such as migratory water fowl, were seasonal. In the summer, sage (Salvia) and other seeds were harvested. Fruits and berries were harvested in the late spring and summer. The seeds of native bunch grasses were harvested in mid-summer. Acorns were harvested in the fall. The winter and early spring seasons were a time of possible food shortages and starvation if stored food supplies had been exhausted. New grass was eaten at that time. Greens were eaten in the spring. Yucca bulbs were available year around. Bulbs, cattails, rushes and toyon and other berries were available. By the late spring and summer periods, hard seeds, currants, other berries, herbaceous plants, buckwheat, sagebrush seeds, chia, blue dicks, mariposa lilies, thistles, elderberry, and cactus fruit were available. By late summer and fall, holly leaf cherry, acorns, manzanita berries, and walnuts became available, along with the continued availability of most summer resources.

 

The seeds of native bunch grasses appear to have been of much greater importance as a food resource than previously thought. Those grasses were largely gone, replaced by Mediterranian annual grasses, long before anthropologists started asking the Chumash questions about how their forefathers had lived and what they had eaten. At least four generations had passed. The diary of Pedro Fages, which chronicles the Portola expedition, provides many insights into the role of grass seeds in the diet of the Chumash.3 At campsite after campsite the Chumash brought offerings of trays of grass seeds, which suggests that grass seeds played an important role in their diet. Acorns were also important. The seeds of the coast live oak, the valley oak and the scrub oak were harvested in late October through early November. They were hulled and dried near the collection point and then transported to the village for long term storage above ground in granaries. Acorns were crushed in a mortar with a pestle, leached to remove tannic acid and either made into cakes and fried or made into a gruel. Hard seeds, such as from various sages, California buckwheat, red maids and California sagebrush, were collected during the early and mid-summer period. They were winnowed, parched, and stored. Eventually, they were ground on a metate with a mano and cooked as cakes or as a gruel. Yucca stalks were gathered in the early spring and roasted. Yucca bulbs were gathered and roasted year round in roasting pits. Mexican elderberries were gathered during the summer and eaten raw, cooked or brewed into a tea for medicinal purposes. Hollyleaf cherries were gathered in the fall, the flesh eaten, and the seeds dried, leached or boiled and then mashed - again to be fried as cakes or made into a gruel. Various bulbs, sedges, rushes, cat-tails, lilies and shoots were gathered primarily in the late spring and early summer and dried, pulped, leached, pounded and boiled. Along with animals harvested throughout the year, these plants provide the bulk of the food consumed in the Simi Valley area. Literally dozens of different plants were used for food. Still more were used for medicinal purpose, construction material and tools.

 

The Chumash lived in villages, with family groups dispersing at times for the collecting of resources, such as acorns, sage and other seed or for hunting. They lived in dome-shaped dwellings that were thatched with bulrushes. Beds were on raised scaffolds with mats as bedding. There also were sweathouses and brush fenced ceremonial enclosures. Temporary encampments sometimes consisted of smaller versions of their domed huts but often used rockshelters with brush screen stacked against the fronts to increase the floor area and to protect the residents against the weather.

 

Food storage was done indoors in coiled baskets. Small animals were pulverized and then baked in the coals of the fire. Dried meat was pulverized. Marrow was extracted. Roasting pits, usually built a short distance from camp, were employed. Hot stones were used in boiling food in baskets. Parching was done with coals on baskets. Winnowing of seed was done on flat baskets, i.e., winnowing trays. Many foods were sun dried.

 

The bow and arrow, sometimes poisoned, slings, and throwing sticks were used for hunting. The spear thrower, i.e., atatl, was also still in use at the time of Euopean contact. Hunting blinds were employed, as well as deer head disguises. Dead falls were used to catch small game. Deer were run down - an exercise that requires open country. Wood rat nests were burned to drive out the rats, which were eaten.

 

Clothing included grass skirts for women, bulrush sandals, and animal hide capes for warmth. Shell, steatite, serpentine and other stone jewelry were used as well as body painting for ornamentation.

 

Grinding tools included portable and bedrock mortars, pestles and manos and metates (grinding slabs). Small mortars were used. (One is on display at the Strathearn Historical Park.) Basket hoppers were also common.

 

Household utensils included baskets of many types. Stone storage bowls, of both sandstone and steatite (from Santa Catalina Island), were common. Steatite slabs, i.e., comals, were used as frying pans (the material is stickless) and for heating water in baskets. Wooden bowls, gourd dippers, shell spoons, wooden food stirrers, soap plant bulb fiber brushes and bone awls were also utilized.

 

Both general information about the Chumash and detailed information of their material culture is available from library sources. Of note are:

 

·        Leif C. W. Landberg, The Chumash Indians of Southern California, Southwest Museum Papers, No. 19 (1965);

·        California's Chumash Indians, John Daniel, Publisher (1986);

·        Campbell Grant, The Rock Paintings of the Chumash: A Study of a California Indian Culture, University of California Press (1966);

·        Travis Hudson and Thomas C. Blackburn, The Material Culture of the Chumash Interaction Sphere, Ballena Press,Volume I: Food Procurement  and Transportation (1979) Volume II: Food Preparation and Shelter (1981) Volume III: Clothing, Ornamentation, and Grooming (1984) Volume IV: Ceremonial Paraphernalia, Games, and Amusements (1980) Volume V: Manufacturing Processes, Metrology, and Trade (1986).

 

The Shoshonean migration of about 900-1,300 A.D. pushed all the way to the coast from east of Point Dume to Orange County.4 They bore a new technology in the form of the bow and arrow. This new technology at least temporarily provided superior military force, which permitted these new people to displace long term residents in their paths. It is clear from pictographs, i.e., rock paintings, in the eastern portion of the Chumash area that these Shoshonean peoples initially pushed into historic Chumash territory. Rock paintings in Malibu Creek State Park are rendered in the Great Basin Tradition. Some of the rock art adjacent to the historic Hummingbird’s Nest Ranch in Simi Valley may be of Shoshonean origin. It is also clear from rock art sites in the San Fernando Valley and places like Vasques Rocks that the Chumash territory once extended beyond its historic boundaries. Archaeological deposits support this same pattern. There is evidence of small groups of Shoshonian peoples moving into the area. It is also apparent that the Chumash eventually mastered the manufacture and use of the bow and arrow and used that technology to reclaim territory that had been taken by Shoshonian peoples. In the Simi Valley area it appears that coastal-based Chumash used the interior seasonally until about 1,000 years ago and then claimed that historic territory by establishing permanent villages in Simi Valley.

 

Health problems included intestinal parasites and skin cancer. Natural conditions, such as poor eye sight, and birth defects went uncorrected. The "good hunter" may have been the one who could see the game. Because of the significant quantities of sand in their diets, their teeth were worn down to the gum lines by their early twenties. From that time on, food was eaten as a gruel. Injuries, such as broken bones, sometimes were crippling, or along with other types of injuries, led to infections and death. Life was hard and often short.

 

The Chumash had a rich cultural/religious tradition. Everything they did and experienced was tied into their religious belief structure. Numerous shrines surrounded their villages. Sometimes these were stones - other times feathered and/or painted and decorated poles and painted rocks. Most events in life, such as marriage, the birth of a child, illness, death, the mourning of a death, initiation into adulthood, were accompanied by ceremonies overseen by religious practitioners. Many of these ceremonies were intravillage events and were accompanied by fiestas. The winter solstice was the most important event of the year. At least five (5) sites where winter solstice ceremonies are thought to have been performed are present around the valley. There were probably many more. Two (2) locales with elaborate ceremonial features are known and well preserved. Winter and summer solstice observations, complete with spectacular alignments of man-made and natural features with the rising sun, can still be experienced at those complexes.

 

For detailed reading about community organization, social structure and religious beliefs, see:

 

·        Thomas C. Blackburn (ed.), December's Child, A Book of Chumash Oral Narratives (1975);  

·        Fernando Librado, Breath of the Sun: Life in Early California as Told by a Chumash Indian, Fernando Librado to John P.Harrington, Malki Museum Press (1979);

·        Travis Hudson and Ernest Underhay, Crystals in the Sky: An Intellectual Odyssey Involving Chumash Astronomy, Cosmology and Rock Art, Ballena Press (1978);

·        Travis Hudson, Thomas Blackburn, Rosario Curletti, and Janice Timbrook (eds.), The Eye of the Flute: Chumash Traditional History and Ritual as Told by Fernando Librado Kitsepawit to John P. Harrington, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

·        (1977).

 

                                                                                    Mike Kuhn

 

THE CHUMASH IN SIMI VALLEY

 

 

Up until about 1,000 years ago Simi Valley may have only been occupied seasonally. Coastal families may have had rights to exploit resources in Simi Valley. For some hundreds of years Shoshonian peoples had made periodic drought-driven incursions into the Simi Valley area as wells as other Chumash territories all the way to the coast. By 1,000 years ago those incursions began to take the form of permanent occupation. The threat of loss of seasonal territory and perhaps population pressure on the coast resulted in the establishment of permanent Chumash settlements in Simi Valley and other interior valley areas. In this way the Chumash may have broadened their resource base and established, by their presence, hegemony over the land.

 

Chumash settlement during the historical period around Simi Valley included the villages of Simi’ and Ta'apu, as well as the village of Quimisac in eastern Moorpark. Wherever the Indians lived they had to have water. As a result, there appears to have been few settlements on the floor of the valley. Rather, camps were located near springs and year round streams in the area. The area around and in the Santa Susana Knolls Park was used by the Indians. The park includes several rockshelters that were occupied by the Chumash. The Chumash Natural Park off of Flanagan Drive was also used by the Chumash. What we find of the pre-contact period of settlement is what remains after 200 years of Spanish/Mexican/Anglo-American use of the land and the affects of natural processes of erosion and deposition. It is a montage in a very rudimentary and fragmentary form of what went on over many thousands of years and of a people of whom only a few known descendants remain in southeastern Ventura County.

 

With the establishment of the California mission and presidio system, Simi Valley came under the jurisdiction of the San Fernando Mission. The El Camino Real passed through Santa Susana Pass, across Simi Valley from east to west and continued westerly through the Tierra Rejada Valley and beyond.

 

 El Rancho San Jose' de Gracia de Simi, the first land grant issued by Spain in Ventura County, was awarded by Diego de Borica, Governor of Alta California, to Santiago Pico in 1795. The first adobe seems to have been built in "the Simi" within a few years.

 

 The mission baptismal records provide a small window into Simi Valley at this early period of contact. The Church needed Indian labor, as did the owners of the rancho, to sustain their productive activities, and the padres were genuinely concerned about the saving of Indian souls. Indians were baptized at all ages. Whole groups were baptized at one time. Sometimes these groups included extended families. Others were baptized when they were dying.

 

The records of the San Fernando Mission contain references to two villages in Simi Valley. These were Simi’ and Ta'apu, i.e., Tapo. A third village, Quimisac, was located in present day Moorpark but seems to have had close ties with Simi.

 

The village of Simi was about one-third the population of the village of Ta'apu. Nonetheless, many anthropologists have concluded that Simi was the geopolitical capital of the area. There is some doubt about this conclusion, however, because of the greater size of Ta'apu and the fact that the baptismal records suggest that Ta'apu was the only one of the three villages that had a resident chief. The village of Simi was located down stream from the confluence of Arroyo Simi and Sycamore Creek on the left bank of the Arroyo Simi opposite the mouth of Brea Canyon. The village controlled tar, i.e., brea, deposits which are found in Brea Canyon. Brea was used as an adhesive and water sealant and was important in trade. Brea fixed beads to wood and stone surfaces, it was used to caulk the seams in boats and to line water bottles. The Simi Adobe was built on to the village site, perhaps because the village was an immediate source of labor or because of its favorable location with respect to water. The various spellings of Simi’ given in the baptismal records are: Simi’, Simii, Simji, Samy, Simi, Simih, Samij, Simij, Semi, and Sami. A Ventura Mission vocabulary of Ventureno Chumash place names listed Ci-mi'-i and Shimizi. The Spanish pronunciation for "j" is an "h" sound, such as in San Jose and La Jolla. The mission fathers were not linguists. They did the best they could in recording where the Indians were from. No doubt a convention was soon adopted for how a place name was to be spelled and how it was to be pronounced. That spelling and pronunciation may or may not have been recognizable to the Chumash. Linguist John Peabody Harrington had an informant ("Kan") who listed the name as Shimiji. Another ("Huin") of his informants gave the name as Shimij'i. Whether or not the shorter version, i.e., Simi’, is correct we will never know. The mission fathers seemed to suggest that it was. The responses of Harrington's informants seem to suggest that it may not be. The mission fathers were not linguists and Harrington was; however, Harrington's information relied on a century old tradition and collective memory.

 

The first baptism of a neophyte from the village of Simi took place on January 8,1798. The last in 1810. Nearly all of the baptisms occurred in 1803. In essence, the village ceased to exist within a few years of consistent Spanish contact. Those Indians that did not move to the missions probably worked on the rancho.

 

The word simi’ seems to refer to a type of cloud, most likely a cirrus cloud. A more complete explanation is provided elsewhere herein.

 

"Ta'apu" had about three times the population of either Simi or Quimisac. The various spellings used in the baptismal records are: Taapu (34 times); Taapu'; Tapu (4 times); Taapa; Toapu, and Tapu. Baptisms occurred between 1799 and 1819. Like Simi, most baptisms occurred in one year, 1803, which may have coincided with the physical presence of the Picos in the valley. Indeed, Patricio and Santiago Pico are listed as witnesses to some baptisms. According to the notes of archaeologist Richard Van Valkenburg, the last raid on the village of Ta'apu by the mission fathers was in 1812. (Those notes are on file at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History.) The area seemed to have served as a sheep camp after that time, which probably accounts for the later baptisms. The headquarters of El Rancho Simi were moved into the general area of the village of Ta’apu during the 1840's - which may have reflected ongoing activities.

 

 The name "Ta'apu", according to the Van Valkenburg notes, is the Ventureno Chumash word for yucca (Yucca whipplei ssp. intermedia). This meaning seems to be corroborated by the Harrington notes in which he lists "topo" as something that is normally cooked in a roasting pit. Yucca bulbs were so cooked. The yucca, or "Spanish dagger," was a very important plant to the Chumash, because it could provide food any time during the year as well as fiber for cordage. The naming of villages after plants was not uncommon. The name of the village comes down to us today in the form of Tapo Canyon, Tapo Canyon Road, and Tapo Street.

 

The village of "Quimisac" was located in present day eastern Moorpark. It controlled much of the "fused shale" trade in the region. The various spellings used in the baptismal records are Quimisac, Quimisa, and Quimissac. Applegate uses the spelling KimichaqQuimisac had about the same population as Simi’. More of the baptisms from the village occurred at the Ventura mission than at the San Fernando mission. As with Simi’ and Ta'apu, Quimisac seemed to have disappeared shortly after 1803.

 

I have found no evidence of what Quimisac might mean.

 

 According to Dr. John Johnson of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, there was a total of 130 baptisms in Simi Valley between the years of 1798 and 1829. Prior to the arrival of the Portola Expedition in 1769 a pandemic disease had moved overland from Mexico and had reduced the population in the Chumash territory by about 50 percent. It is therefore likely that the population concentrations observed by the Spanish in the late-1700s already reflected the decimating effects that old world diseases were to ultimately have on aboriginal people. It is also likely that as many as one half of the population died off from disease before they could be baptized. Certainly the sizes of the populations in Simi’, Ta'apu and Quimisac that are reflected in the baptismal records were already greatly reduced because of viruses that were introduced unwittingly by the Spanish colonists. According to Dr. John Johnson, it is reasonable to speculate that the pre-contact population of the three villages would have been 250-400.

 

What we know about the geography of Simi Valley from the pre-Spanish era has come down to us through historical inertia from the Spanish and Mexican periods and from the testimony of the informants of John Peabody Harrington. It is clear from what little information that we have that the Chumash viewed their geography differently than we view our geography today. If we interpret what has been recorded in light of our present day concepts of place, then we will inevitably misinterpret the meaning of what we think we know. In our society the U.S. Geological Survey has formally placed names on maps. We have incorporated cities with precise boundaries. Our geographical realities are driven by present day political conventions that were not part of the Chumash universe. The information which follows must be interpreted in that light.

 

Other place names of Chumash origin in the Simi area include:

 

Kashiwe  (also listed as Kas-hi'-we, Cas-hi-wey, Kashi'wej, Kas-hi-we, and Kasiwey) - Harrington lists it as Cuesta Santa Susana, as does Henshaw. Applegate says that it means "the pass" between Simi and the San Fernando Valley. Kroeber indicates that it is a former village near Newhall, Ventura County (sic), at a place now called Cuesta Santa Susana. There is no mention in the baptismal records of a village by this name.

 

Hi'im - Applegate lists the name as a place at Santa Susana in Simi Valley. Harrington lists the word "qi'im". An informant, Fernando Librado, reported that a Fernandeno Indian that he knew said Santa Susana is called qi'im, which means “mystery”. He said there was a gold mine there south of the track and west of the tunnel. Another informant, Jose Juan Olivas, pronounced the word "q'i'm". He said that it is in the hills between the cienegas of Simi and the Tierra Rejada Valley. He said something about there being a rock shaped like a q'i'm there. Another time Jose said that it is a hill that is "atravesado," i.e., crosses, below Simi. In any case, Hi'im and qi'im seem to be the same word. It is likely that it refers to the hills at the western end of Simi Valley where the presidential library is located.

 

Ka'alishaw-Kashup - Applegate lists the word as meaning "hot earth" and being a geothermal spot near Simi. Harrington lists it as the place where the earth is warm, attributing this meaning to Jose Juan Olivas. He indicates that Mr. Gillibrand says that there is a place near Strathearn's ranch where the earth is so hot you can't sit down. Dig down a little way, and the earth is burning hot. Mr. Gillibrand found Indian beads and things at the place indicating that the Indians must have taken steam baths there. It is very likely the place being referred to was located somewhere in the Happy Camp Canyon area and involved the natural burning of petroleum under ground. Happy Camp Canyon was a primary source of fused shale during the Late Period. Fused shale is a product of the burning of petroleum under ground. Happy Camp Canyon was part of the Strathearn holdings.

 

Ka'altsh'eutsh'eu kashup - Jose Juan Olivas, translated this phrase as meaning "la Tierra Rajada". In Spanish, Tierra Rajada means "cracked earth". The Tierra Rejada ("Rejada" is an Anglo-American period misspelling.) is dominated by volcanic soils, which are high in clay content and develop deep fissures or cracks when desiccated.

 

Sholkohoon - According to Applegate,  this was a Ventureno village near Simi. Nothing more is known about the name. It does not show up in the baptismal records and may not have been in the Simi Valley area as we understand contemporary geography.

 

Somna - Harrington cites Fernando Librado as the source for Somna. Somna is "...a place somewhere by Simi." Fernando Librado indicated that he thought that Somna is modern day Somis and that it means very large barranca. Somna is mentioned here only because it is mentioned in the Harrington note as being "by Simi." To the Indians the geographic limits of Simi seemed to have extended much further west than it does today. “The Simi” included both the Simi and the Little Simi valleys, which extented from Santa Susana Pass on the east to the area just east of modern-day Somis.

 

Kaspat Kaslo'w - Applegate lists this phrase and indicates that it means "nest of the eagle." He lists it as a mountain west of the San Fernando Valley. Both Chatsworth Peak and Rocky Peak are possible candidates.

 

Some rudimentary semblance of Chumash geography has come down to us today and is reflected in and has influenced our own sense of place. "The Simi" extended westward to just east of present day Somis. The village name gave its name to the region - "the Simi". Today we have Simi Valley, where the City of Simi Valley is located, and the "Little Simi Valley", (Check your U.S. Geological Survey map.) where the City of Moorpark is located. The village of Ta'apu has given us the names Tapo Canyon - on both sides of the Santa Susana Mountains - as well as Tapo Canyon Road and Tapo Street (Tapo Street north of Alamo Street used to run northwest to the mouth of Tapo Canyon.). Early references in the Anglo-American settlement period refer to "the Tapo" as a district. The name, Tierra Rajada (now spelled Rejada), as we have seen, derives from a Chumash name.

 

The Chumash, as with other Indian groups, often named their trails after the geographic places where those trails went to or from. As we have seen, the canyons on both sides of the Santa Susana Mountains north and south of the village of Ta'apu are called Tapo Canyon (Check the U.S. Geological Survey map.). Those canyons contained the trails to Ta'apu. The road between the Conejo and the Simi valleys which ran through the present day Wood Ranch development into the present day Lang Ranch development was called the "Simi Road". It was the trail between the Conejo Valley and the Simi’ or the village of Simi. According to an 1834 report, entitled (translated from the Spanish) "Investigative Report on the Santa Barbara Presidio District", Simi had three roads leading to the west - one known as "Quimisa","... which went through a grove of live oak trees and willows and has a stream fed only by rain and lasts until June." Quimisa road or trail roughly followed the present course of Los Angeles Avenue to eastern Moorpark past the City of Simi Valley’s wastewater treatment plant and was the Chumash trail to the village of Quimisac. That road disappeared during the early Anglo-American settlement period but is now reflected in the name of the very short road between Los Angeles Avenue and Oak Park, which is located northwest of the Ventura County Animal Control Facility. Quimisa Road somehow bears that historic continuity.

 

Certainly the present bears an echo of its Chumash past.

 

They were the first people in Simi Valley. They knew the land, wandered through it and used it for thousands of years before the coming of Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American settlers. They were hunters and gatherers and possessed a rich culture. They were relatively untouched by western civilization and its diseases in my great, great, great, great grandfather's time. Within a few decades, except for a few descendants, they were gone. We can only guess about what has been lost.

 

NOTES

 

1. Travis Hudson, Janice Timbrook and Melissa Rempe (eds.), Tomol: Chumash Watercraft as Described in the Ethnographic Notes of John P. Harrington, Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 9 (1978).

 

2. This classification of settlement periods is taken from the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Soka University Master Plan, County of Los Angeles (February 1995), pages III-261-262. That document indicates that the classification is summarized from C.A. Singer & Associates, Inc., "Cultural Resources Survey and Impact Assessment for the Soka University Campus in Malibu, Los Angeles County, California“ (September 7, 1990).

 

3. Pedro Fages, An Historical, Political, and Natural Description of California, translated by Herbert Ingram Priestley, Ballena Press (Ramona, 1972).

 

4. See Bernice Eastman Johnston, California Gabrielino Indians, Southwest Museum (Los Angeles, 1962).

 

5. Pedro Fages, ibid., pages 31-36.

 

6. Thomas C. Blackburn and Kat Anderson (eds.), Before the Wilderness: Environmental Management by Native Californians, Ballena Press (Romona, 1993). See especially Chapter 4, "Vegetation Burning by the Chumash," by Jan Timbrook, John Johnson, and David D. Earle.

7. Hudson and Blackburn, ibid., Vol. II, page 213.