Southern Coastal Natives

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Dug out canoe used by Chumash; Illustrated by Charles
Dug out canoe used by Chumash; Illustrated by Charles
The Chumash, Gabrielino, Luiseno, and Kumeyaay were tribes in the Southern coast of California. These Indian groups lived in a warm and dry desert like place. They depended on nature’s resources. These Natives were one of the first Californian to settle.

Tribes in southern California used many natural resources to get the necessary things they needed. There were lots of trees in the coast , but most of the tall trees like redwoods grew only in the northern coast. Trees were made into plank boats and houses. Deer antlers and stones were carved into tools and clamshell holders. These Indians depended on their natural resources to survive.

Mussels, abalones, clams, and plants were some of the foods that the Chumash ate. Acorn was another important kind of food. The Gabrielinos fished and caught sea animals. The Luiseno, and the Kumeyaay set fire to burn old brush, so the animals that they hunted had more food to eat. There were many kinds of food the Indians ate.

Indians lived in different kinds of shelter. Most tribes like the Yuroks and Hupas built rectangular plank homes, but the Chumash lived in a drier climate so they built their homes from brush and grass. Chumash tribes made their homes by sticking long poles into the ground and laying it with dry plants. Tribes made homes with resources they had in the area they lived.

(Charles November 18, 2008)




The Chumash’s location was in the southern Coastal Region. They lived near fresh water resources. The tribe also lived along the ocean called Pacific Ocean, from present-day Paso Robles to Malibu. Some had lived in the northern Channel Islands. They had also lived in the Cuyama Valley and lived in the Transverse Mountain Ranges.


The Chumash Indians had several houses for shelter. Some of the houses were large and others were small. Several Native families can live in the large houses also; a few families can live in the smaller houses. They had several houses for sweat lodges, places where they stored food, and had a public area for ceremonies. To make their frames, they had to bend and tie willow branches to dome-shaped frames. Next, they covered those frames with thick layers of tule or they covered it with brush and a tall, flexible marsh plants with spongy and wet stems. The willow poles were used to curve the floor all over. At the top, a small opening allowed smoke to escape when the Chumash were cooking.


Chumash Indians had lived along the Pacific Ocean, so it was their main source of food. The Chumash ate mussels for sea life. They fished for other animals like crabs and abalone. The tribe cooks clams too. This tribe cooked it tasty for themselves. Men always hunted and fished for animals and fish when the women gathered and collected seeds, acorns, and others plants they ate. From where they hunted the sea life animals was near shallow waters and they dug up clams from the sand at the shore. The Pacific Ocean and acorns were the Chumash’s main sources of food.


For the Chumash tribe, they had a special leader called a government like most other tribes. Their government helps and makes the rules in the tribe. Also for the other tribes, they had their own leader. When the leader died, his son would takeover, but if he or she didn’t have a son, they would have a daughter or sister to takeover and a brother can takeover. Even if each government died, there was always someone to replace the government spot or leader’s spot. For leaders, they decided who hunted and where they hunted in. The village leader would meet with the other leaders. The village leader would work together with others, it’s called cooperate. They had to have good government or leader that can lead well.


The Chumash was also professional canoe builders. They built a canoe named Tomol. This was a large and it was made out of wooden planks. They had separated or split logs that had been washed up along the shores. Another step was that you had to sew the wooden planks together made out with ropes that were from plant fibers. These Chumash people can also make dugout canoes and some canoes made out of tule. These professional people built what kind of canoes they used.

(Tiffany February 4, 2010

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