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Film Chronicles Six Generations of a Chumash Family

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Date: May 7, 2010
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

During the May “From Shore to Sea” lectures Ernestine Ygnacio-De Soto and Dr. John Johnson will present a film directed by Paul Goldsmith on the history of Chumash family called “6 Generations. The film explores the lives of De Soto’s ancestors by telling the story of six generations of Chumash women from the Spanish mission period through the present day. For thousands of years the Chumash people occupied the California coast from San Luis Obispo to Malibu.

De Soto’s great grandmother worked with ethnographer John P. Harrington in the early 1900’s to chronicle her family’s history. This was the beginning of nearly 50 years of contact between Harrington and generations of De Soto’s family, resulting in a detailed record of what happened to each generation. This record reveals a story about cultural survival and the human spirit.

A Chumash Elder, De Soto has been an advocate for Chumash concerns during years of service on museum and university boards and advisory councils. In addition to her work on the film, she has published articles about the region’s Chumash heritage, and coauthored a children’s book based on one of her mother’s stories. 

Johnson, who collaborated with De Soto on the film, has been the Curator of Anthropology with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History since 1986. He is also an adjunct professor in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Johnson has devoted his career to understanding the culture and history of the Chumash and neighboring groups in the region.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 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?

Bechers Bay coastline on Santa Rosal Island

Although the park is within 60 miles of 18 million people, it is home to 175 miles of pristine undeveloped coastline.