Historically, the Chumash resided along the southern California coast and numbered in the thousands until Spanish missions were established. Moreover, at one time Scorpion Bay on Santa Cruz Island, an area on the island known as Limuw, was home to the largest Chumash village. However, present day Chumash reside on the Santa Ynez Reservation, located in Santa Barbara country.
In the past couple of decades, linguist have begun a language program among the Chumash to revive their native American language, known as Samala. Moreover, they have published an English to Samala dictionary. Classes are held to teach younger generations both the language and their cultural heritage, such as basketry. In addition to reviving the language, they also live and practice their culture every day and incorporate their ancestors into their lives. Proud of their cultural heritage, they seek to maintain their distinct people group identity.
While many Chumash claim Christianity as their religion, some practice their traditional tribal beliefs. Some Christian Chumash honor their past by participating in annual ceremonies such as the Swordfish Dance.
The Swordfish Dance is considered one of the most important held ceremonies. The dancer wears an actual swordfish skull decorated with shell inlay, or a headdress to symbolize the "sword." The Swordfish is given offerings of beads and other gifts because he is believed to be the chief of all the sea animals, driving whales ashore to provide food for the Chumash.
Pray as the Chumash struggle to acquire land for their people and help their people deal with various social issues.
Pray that Chumash will realize that they can be both Chumash and Christian with a persona intimate relationship with a living creator God.
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