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Recalling the Return to Limuw:     A Chumash Tomol Crosses the Channel

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Date: September 4, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

The September “From Shore to Sea” lectures will feature Alan Salazar discussing the importance of the tomol, a traditional plank canoe used historically by the Chumash for fishing and travel between the islands and mainland for trade. The tomol connected Chumash communities and continues to be significant to their culture.

In September 2001, the Chumash resumed their tomol crossings by paddling to the island of Limuw (Santa Cruz Island) from Channel Island Harbor. Salazar has participated in seven crossings as part of an annual celebration of their culture. He will share how these journeys are an affirmation of Chumash tradition, which contemporary Chumash regard as a gift to their ancestors and children.

Salazar is a Chumash storyteller, a traditional Chumash paddler, a practitioner of Chumash spiritual ceremonies, and his village’s fast runner. He has dedicated most of his life to learning about Native American cultures and sharing that knowledge with the young and old, including over 100 presentations in California schools. His family survived the mission period and is one of a small number of families that can trace both Chumash and Tataviam ancestry. Like many people with California Indian ancestry, his family’s story is one of pride in their Native American heritage. He is also one of many Native Americans that consider themselves a person of the Earth. As a person of the Earth he considers himself no better than hawk, bear, lizard, trees, or rocks. Salazar was taught by many elders that to be humble and respectful are the two most important traits to have, so with humility he remarks that he is “a storyteller, paddler, spiritual person and, for an old guy, pretty fast.”

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, September 9, 2008, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, September 10, 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?

Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island is one of the world’s largest known sea caves. The cave measures 1215 feet in length (the size of more than four football fields), has a 160 foot entrance, and is almost 100 feet wide.