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Living on the Land: Chumash Use of Plants on the California Channel Islands

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Date: July 7, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

Jan Timbrook, the Curator of Ethnography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBMNH), will portray some of the ways in which Chumash people have used plants for food, medicine, clothing, tools, utensils, and other essential items during the July “From Shore to Sea” lecture series.
Timbrook will explore the complex interrelationships between the Chumash and the environment in which they lived. The Chumash people and their ancestors have lived in the Santa Barbara Channel region for thousands of years, relying on its biological richness and diversity to provide for their livelihood.

Timbrook has been with the SBMNH since 1974 and is considered one of the top experts in Chumash studies. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in anthropology from University of California, Santa Barbara. Timbrook’s primary research interest is ethnobiology—the interactions of human societies with plants and animals. Her specialty is the indigenous Chumash people of the Santa Barbara region, particularly their uses of plants in food, medicine, and basketry. She has collaborated on four published books including studies of traditional history and ritual and the Chumash plank canoe. She has authored numerous scientific papers on topics ranging from herbal medicine to environmental management by the Chumash. Her most recent book, published last summer, is a result of three decades of research on Chumash ethnobotany.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures will occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?


Channel Islands National Park has more endangered species that only exist within this park than any other unit of the National Park Service. This means that survival of these plants and animals depends entirely on our ability to protect and restore the habitat of the five park islands.