Fostering Understanding in Our Community: Chumash and Tataviam Stories with Chumash Elder Alan Salazar
Good evening. My name is Cornel Morton, and I serve as President of the Diversity Coalition, San Luis Obispo County. It's a pleasure to be with you and to welcome you to this dialogue. And as we begin, I just want to share a couple of things with you, related to the Diversity Coalition. So we are a non-profit organization. We were formed in March of 2011. It was unfortunately, as a result of a hate crime in Arroyo Grande, in March of 2011, when a cross burning occurred in the yard of a black family in Arroyo Grande.
A number of individuals from our community came together to support the family, decided after some time, to continue to work on social justice issues in San Luis Obispo County. And the short of that story is that, that created enough energy and dedication, if you will, to change in our county, which then formed the Diversity Coalition. As a non-profit, we're interested in collaboration with other organizations in the name of equity, social justice, and promoting diversity.
We've worked closely with local schools, especially in the interest of reaching young people. And we've also done quite a bit of work with local schools in the name of teacher development and professional development, especially. So the Diversity Coalition was created to provide programs and resources, and in that way, tonight is one more example of that effort. We have a series that we've titled, Fostering Understanding in Our Community. Fostering understanding includes, making certain, we all have an opportunity to learn more about the individuals, the organizations that are a part of our community.
We are interested in your continued support, and we would invite you to continue to watch out for other programs that are upcoming. Tonight, we are very pleased to have Alan Salazar with us. I'm going to introduce Alan, and I'm going to ask him to share with us, and then you'll have an opportunity to raise questions and to comment on his presentation. Alan Salazar, a Native American, consultant, monitor, traditional storyteller, spiritual advisor, and a traditional paddler of Chumash canoes.
He's also been a preschool teacher and a juvenile institution officer. Alan is also a journeymen plasterer, and since being a young man, he's been around construction, for example, most of his life. Alan's family has been traced back to Chumash and Tataviam village of Ta'apu, now known as Simi Valley and the Tataviam village of Pi'ing near what is today, modern day, Magic Mountain.
His ancestors were brought into the San Fernando Mission, starting in 1803. And he has been actively involved in protecting ancestral sites and tribal territories, which include the Malibu area. He's also involved in several Native American groups and the organizations and work that is underway. And for example, he is a founding member of the Kern County Native American Heritage Preservation Council and the Chumash Maritime Association.
He's a member of the California Indian Advisory Council for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Alan has been a community advisor with the Ventura County Indian Education Consortium for over 18 years, and he's currently a member of the Environmental Review Board for the City of Malibu. As a member of the Chumash Maritime Association, Alan helped build the first working traditional Chumash plank canoe, in modern times and paddled in this plank canoe for over 17 years.
He's been involved with protecting Native American cultural sites for more than 20 years and has been a consultant and monitor on sites in Ventura, in Los Angeles, in Santa Barbara, in San Luis Obispo and Kern counties. Alan explains that today, it's not easy being a proud California Native American, misinformation about the tribe is still out there. There are many obstacles to overcome, but as Alan says, "He was raised to be proud of his Native American heritage." He takes great pride in being a positive role model and a respected elder.
He's also someone who has a very positive relationship with many of the native leaders and native people in California and he takes his responsibilities as an elder, very seriously. I'm sure you might want to add other aspects of your background and your experiences, Alan. This is just a brief introduction, but please feel free to share more about yourself, about your work and about the important things you're doing throughout California. And so on behalf of the Diversity Coalition, I want to thank you for being with us and I'd like to have you go forward now, with your comments. Thanks again for being with us.
Thank you, Cornel. [foreign language 00:06:21], Alan Salazar. [foreign language 00:06:27]. Hello, I am Alan Salazar. I am from the Village of SFCA, what we now call San Fernando, California. I want to start my talk tonight, talking about my Chumash and Tataviam family. I get my Chumash and Tataviam ancestry from my father's side of the family and appropriately today, it being Veteran's Day, the first family picture I will start with is, my father when he was a young man.
So my father was in the Marines and fought in World War II in Saipan and Okinawa. It's my father's side that I get my Chumash and Tataviam ancestry. This is my father later on in life. He lived till age 78 and worked in construction up until the last few months of his life. He survived the great depression and World War II. This beautiful woman right here, is my grandmother, Berra Ortega Salazar. This picture was taken in 1915, at her christening. My grandmother was a good Catholic and went to mass twice a week and lived well into her '80s.
This gentleman right here, is my great-grandfather, Antonio Maria Ortega. My great-grandfather, Antonio Maria Ortega, was born in 1855. He was born at a time when it was extremely dangerous to be a California Native. A time when someone could have killed my great-grandfather and they wouldn't have been sent to jail or to prison, they would have been actually paid. The bounty system started in 1849 and lasted until 1873. So when my great-grandfather was born, well until he was a young man in his late teens, someone could have killed him and they would have been paid a bounty of $5, $10, $20.
And the difference was, if you just killed a California Native in the 1850s, '60s, and early '70s, if you just in their scalp, you were given a smaller bounty, a reward of $5 to $10. If you kill the California Native and chopped off their head, you were paid a larger bounty, $20, $25, $30. Several hundred thousand dollars were paid out in bounties. So California Native people, the native people that trace their ancestry to the California tribes, like my family, survived one of the worst genocides in US history.
Many people don't know that, there were more Indian massacres in California than any other state. There were over 300 recorded massacres in California. The first personal story I want to share with you, then I'll talk a little bit about the Chumash, a little bit about the Tataviam, then I'll finish up talking about something I'm extremely proud of, and that's my involvement with our Chumash, the mold, our Chumash ocean canoes.
There's a book that was written about four or five years ago, it's called American Genocide. American Genocide is about that period I just mentioned, from 1849 to 1873 and the bounty system and the genocide of California tribal people. It's written by Dr. Benjamin Madley, it's a very well done book. He researched that history, in that time period, very thoroughly and can back up all his facts and all the numbers, which are extremely gruesome. It's a book that, there was times I could read 40 or 50 pages and couldn't wait to get to the next chapter, and then there were nights that I would read 5 or 6 pages and have to put the book down. So it's a difficult read, but it's a true story.
And the reason I bring it up is that, for about 20 years or so, well, actually over 20 years, I've been helping organize a summer solstice ceremony at Mount Pinos. Mount Pinos is by Frazier Park. It's the highest mountain in Chumash territory, 8,800 feet. It's where the Chumash people, for tens of thousands of years have gone to do ceremony. And I started helping organize a summer solstice ceremony up there and it started in 1996.
And in the early 2000s, I was up where we hold our little ceremony, which is a walk-in campground and there's a large parking lot, it's almost at the top of the mountain. And I was there a couple of days earlier, getting the campground cleaned up and picking up trash and raking and setting up our circle for our ceremony. And as I was walking back to my car, a gentleman walks up to me and he asked me a question that I've been asked thousands of times, "Are you an Indian?" I go, "Yes." He goes, "What tribe?" I said, "I'm Chumash and Tataviam."
And he looks me dead in the eye and says, "I heard that the Chumash were cannibals." I go, "No, we weren't cannibals." He goes, "No, you were." I says, "No, I know several anthropologists and I've worked with a lot of archeologists and historians, and there's no mention of the Chumash being cannibals." He goes, "No, the Chumash were cannibals." And I realized, no matter what I said, I couldn't change his mind. So at that point I reached onto the back of his arm and squeezed it and went, "Mm, tasty." And that angered him and he stormed off, which was the goal I wanted to accomplish.
And then I read American Genocide and in American Genocide, Dr. Madly talks about the early settlers that came out for the gold rush, over a hundred thousand people in one year. And they were told when they were leaving the East Coast to come out into the West Coast, that all the Indians in California were savages, which is what they said about all Indians throughout all of North America. But they said we were very warlike and we were cannibals. So of those three things, we were none of those.
For the most part, California Indians were not warlike. We would have disputes every now and then, but for the most part, we traded extensively. The Chumash are famous and well-known for having trade routes and certain villages that were major trade centers, that other tribes and other villages from 50, 60, even 100 miles away, would come to Chumash villages to trade because we had so many resources here and we had our shell bead money that was considered to be valuable.
And I thought about that gentlemen, who I could not convince him that we were not cannibals. And when I read that in Dr. Madley's book, I tell that story to young people all the time. That when a label is put on a group of people, that this whole group of people are lazy, this whole group of people are stupid, and that this whole group of people are inferior, sub-human, savages, those labels can last, not just for years, but that label was put on in 1850 and in the year 2002 or 2003, whatever year that was, that label was still there.
So I tell young people, you have to be very careful when you use a label on somebody. And if labels do stick for that long, let's start using labels of how loving people are, how kind and generous people are. And the Hispanic population that comes to California, are extremely hardworking people. And I know that because I grew up in Bakersfield, in Hanford, California, farming country, and I saw the start of the Farm Laborers Union. My father met Cesar Chavez and said, "He was a wonderful, soft-spoken man, very humble." My father was very impressed when he met Cesar Chavez.
So labels are something that I've fought against all my life, when people try to put labels on my tribes or put labels on me. I'm a human being. I have the same feelings and emotions and the same abilities as anyone else. I'll talk briefly about the Chumash. I'm going to assume, that since all of you are from the central coast area, that you know a lot about the Chumash. I'll point out five things, and if anyone has questions, I'll expand on those during the Q&A.
When I go to schools, I tell the kids that the Chumash are famous for five things. We're famous for our shell bead money, and the word Chumash actually means, shell bead money or shell bead money makers. So we would get very small olivella shells, there may be at best, a half-inch long, and they're very delicate and difficult to work with. And we would make perfect circular beads and drill a hole in the center.
And I found, I was on Santa Rosa Island last week and while we were excavating, I found two, not much thicker than a sewing needle, and about an inch long and they were made from chert, hard stone, sharp stone. And those were the drills used, to drill the small hole in the center of that bead, that is at best, a quarter-inch, three-eighths of an inch in diameter, very small, less than a half-inch in diameter. So we're famous for our shell bead money, that was traded throughout all of California, Nevada, Arizona, and well into New Mexico.
We're famous for our canoes, our tomols, our plank canoes. So they're not made from one tree like a dugout canoe. We would literally, make our own boards, our own 2 x 6s, 2 x 8s, and we would drill holes in them and glue and tie them together, putting board on top of board, and they look like this, that one down there on the bottom. They're very unique, only two tribes in all the West Coast made plank canoes and they're both here in Central and Southern California, the Tataviam, Gabrielino and the Chumash. So they're very unique canoes.
We're famous for our basket weavers. Our basket weavers were some of the greatest basket weavers you'll find anywhere in the world. And you can go to museums all around the world, England, Germany, Australia, Russia, France, Spain, they have Chumash baskets at their museums. Our basket weavers made some of the most beautiful and functional baskets anywhere. Our rock art is considered some of the most beautiful, unique rock art, you will find anywhere in the world. And if any of you that have had the opportunity to go to Painted Cave or to Painted Rock out in the Carrizo, that's some of the most spectacular rock art, that archeologists, not the Chumash people, that's what archeologists and anthropologists say about our rock art.
And the Chumash are one of the oldest tribes in North America. When I was on Santa Rosa Island, not this time, but the last time, last year, I went by where the Arlington Springs man was discovered. And the Arlington Springs man is just the leg bone of a Chumash bone, it's just the leg bone of a Chumash man that was found in 1959. But when they did carbon dating testing on that leg bone of that Chumash man, it was determined that that leg bone is between 13,000 to 13,500 years old, making it the oldest human remains found in North America today. So the Chumash are one of the oldest tribes in North America.
The Tataviam, we're a very small tribe. So I'm on the Elders Council of the Fernandino, like San Fernando, Fernandino Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. Our territory covers most of the San Fernando Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley, and my family actually, traces back to a village called Achoicominga and Magic Mountain is literally, built over it, and going out towards Gorman and out towards Palmdale and Lancaster.
So we were a very small tribe. They estimate it, to when the mission period started, there might've been 1,000 to 1,500 and by the end of the bounty system in 1873, there was less than 100 of us, so we were pretty close to being extinct. And my Chumash family, we traced back to the village of Ta'apu as Cornel said, which is in modern day, Simi Valley.
And let me say something, I was going to apologize, but I think this is a good point. The information that I sent Cornel was about five years old. So since then, I've been able to do a little bit more research, getting into San Fernando Mission records, talking to some anthropologists, John Johnson and various anthropologists like that. And we've traced back, that my family was brought to the San Fernando Mission starting in 1799 and we traced back, that instead of the Village of Pi'ing, that my great, great, great grandfather came from the village of Achoicominga.
So like many California Native families, we're always researching our ancestry and learning more about villages and tribal connections, it's an ongoing process for many of us, you have to be a detective. So like I said, the Tataviam, the one thing we're famous for right now, is many tribes in California, do not have federal recognition, we're federally non-recognized tribes. The Ventureno Chumash from the Ventura area, the Barbareno Chumash from Santa Barbara, Northern Chumash from San Luis Obispo County.
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:23:04]
Northern Chumash from San Luis Obispo County, the Island Chumash, the Mountain Chumash, the Chumash that lived in the mountains. We are all federally not recognized. The Fernandeno Tataviam are a fairly non-recognized tribe. But we are currently under review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And we're through phase one. We have to try and explain one of the qualifications, which is, are we still what is called an historic tribe. A tribe like the Navajo, the Hopi, the Lakota, the Sauk. And it's a difficult process to explain. So to kind of give you idea of when you're not fairly recognized, mostly it's because we've lost our land. So our land was taken away from us. We believe our land was stolen from us. We never signed a treaty and agreed to give our land to Spain, Mexico or the United States of America.
So if you're an Indian tribe and you don't have land, BIA (Bureau of Indian affairs) and US government does not recognize you. But there's this big, long process. And we've been working on it for close to 30 years. We've been under review for 3 years and we're just almost through the phase one, phase two, we'll take 4-5 more years and that's... We're on what is called the fast track. You could believe that? That's the fast track. There's another process that gives a little bit more leeway but it takes much longer. So we went with the fast track and we're willing to take the risk of some of the shortcomings of the fast track. So I'll be 70 years old in a couple of months. I'm hoping that I live long enough to find out if my tribe gets their federal recognition so that my kids and grandson will have some benefits that I would never have. And I'll answer questions about the Tataviam later.
So that's my family history, my tribal history. I'm involved with a lot of different things. I've been involved with Indian causes and issues, which as you can tell by what I've said so far can be extremely complex, very frustrating at times. I was interviewed by a cultural anthropologist from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and she asked me some of the same questions that she did, some of the other tribal members or tribal president senators and some of the other elders on the elders' council. That she said, "It doesn't seem like the Fernandeno Tatavium did tribal activities from 1900-1950". And I explained to her as best as I could without getting angry and frustrated that one, I was born in 1951, so I wasn't alive during that time, but I heard many a family stories from my pap and my grandmothers and my aunts and uncles.
And she goes, "Well, it doesn't appear that the tribe, the families, and there's only three families in the whole Tatavium on trial." Like I said, we're a very small tribe. And she goes, "But it doesn't seem like those three families that the tribal families that were alive from 1900-1950 did tribal things. They didn't seem to get together, have gatherings. If an elder died, it didn't seem like, I don't see anything of the families coming together to honor that elder". And I try to as graciously as possible explain that the stories I've heard from my grandmother, my aunts and uncles and my pap was that it was extremely difficult to survive the depression. That my family was a typical poor family in America trying to survive the depression, hand me down clothes, shoes with holes in them. I remember my pap telling us stories of how when he was a very young boy, 6, 7 years old, 8 years old, shining shoes for a nickel, for a penny in downtown San Fernando.
That he had his shoe shine box, and he would set up in front of the barber shop and he was shining shoes to help bring in money for the family when he was just a little boy. And when you're the smallest minority, the smallest ethnic group in an area, you're the last person on the total poll, usually to get the jobs, to get the handouts and things like that. So I tried to explain to her that I know that the depression was extremely difficult for my family and the other families. They stayed in touch, but it was a matter of putting your head down and working. And most people of color know exactly what I'm talking about when I say there's times you just have to put your head down and do the work.
I've done it. Many people have done it to survive. And then my family, my father, and many of my older cousins and older uncles served in World War II and had to survive the war and then come back and start their life all over again. Try and get jobs. My family, as Konara said, my grandfather worked in construction. My father worked in construction, me and all my brothers worked in construction. I was the only one that would also do other things. Teach preschool and worked juvenile probation. I've always enjoyed working with kids. But it's a long process to get federal-recognized and our odds are stacked against us. It's probably about 90% of the petitions from tribes that are trying to get federally recognized or rejected. At best 10-12% are approved. But knock on wood, if anyone could send us some positive energy and prayers for the Tatavium before I died, we'll, I'll just be happy to know one way or the other. So now I want to talk a little bit about our canoes our tomols.
This is the one I've paddled in for the last 10, 12 years. This is moved to mine. It's owned by San Ynez. This is a 32 foot plank canoe. You can see the black lines, that's one board glued and tied to the board below it and the board below that and the board below that. It's about six boards deep. They're very heavy.
The first one we built that I helped build, 1997. This one here, which is Elyewun. She's 24 feet. Hope I'm not getting too much glare from the light. But she's a lot lighter. The 24 foot Elyewun that made the first crossing in historic times. So let me give you a little brief history of our tomol, our canoe culture with Chumash people. We've been building these ocean canoes for at least 3000 years. I believe more like 7, 8,000 years. They're flat bottom plank canoes so that we get boards, make our own boards, and we glue it tight together. The reason we make flat, bottom is flat bottom canoes carry a lot of weight. We build them to take trade items out to the islands, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel. Those four islands off our coast were Chumash islands.
So we took trade items back and forth through the islands. Visited family and friends on the islands. And then also to go out into the ocean and fish and bring back fish to our villages along the coast for food. The 24 foot canoe, tomol like Elyewun can easily carry over 300 pounds of fish or 300 pounds of trade items. We know this because flat bottom canoes are very tippy, they rock back and forth. If you put some weight in your canoe and get some of it under water, that stabilizes it. Then it only rocks a little bit. So we put about 300 pounds to 350 pounds of sand bags or ballast to get some of our tomol or canoe under water to stabilize it so it's not tippy. So that's why we know it can carry 300 pounds. We can catch 300 pounds of fish in it easily. The 32 footer weighs 500 pounds empty.
We put 6, 700 pounds of ballast in her and six paddlers. So we're pulling well over 2000 pounds of canoe when we paddle from Channel Islands harbor, which is Oxnard, California, that's where we usually leave from. Because from that harbor, it like 20 miles to the [inaudible 00:32:59], the Island that we call Santa Cruz. And we went for the first time in 2001. And why I say the first time in historic times, we've been building the canoes, ocean canoes for several thousand years and then somewhere around the 1830s or 1840s during the mission period, we stopped building them. Because we were the slave laborers, the farm workers, the ranch hands, the cooks, the maids for everyone in California. When it was under the control of Spain with other control of Mexico. And when it was under the control of America. And we were slaves during American, during the first 15 years of California's history, they called us adventured servants, but we were slaves.
So we stopped building our tomols in the 1830s. So there was 150 years that a traditional Chumash canoe did not make any trips from the mainland out to the islands. And I was part of that first crew, part of the 25, 30 paddlers that left September 8th on 2001. And we've gone 12 more times since then. We didn't go in 2019 because it was windy. And we didn't go this year because of COVID. And next year will be the 20th anniversary. And I was just messaging one of our just brilliant, strong women paddlers Eva Pagaling, and we both miss each other. We both miss our canoe family or tomol family. To not be on the water this year was really rough for many of us. And as I said earlier I'm getting towards the end of my paddling career. I'll be 70 next year when we go out to Santa Cruz Island, but I will paddle. And I will paddle a full shift of 2-3 hours.
Our canoes are very deep. So you have to paddle on your knees or paddles are made out of wood. They're over 11 feet long. So it takes a lot of upper body strength. I work out religiously. I go to the gym 5 days a week and lift weights. And the trainers there all think I'm crazy because I do the same 7 or 8 exercises over and over and over. All I want to do is build up paddling muscles which are my shoulders and my back. Because we're on our knees you don't use your legs or your core that much but a little bit.
So I'll show a couple more pictures of our tomols. I think they're beautiful. This picture here is from 2001. We left at 3:45 in the morning. That's Gilbert and Sweater to a dear friend of mine. My son is right behind him. So I've paddled with my son on that first crossing. And my grandson is 12. I hope they paddle long enough to get my grandson in and paddle with him. So we left at 3:45 that's about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. It took us over 11 hours and we're carrying the smallest shore. Then we had a big ceremony and we camped out and told stories and sang traditional songs.
It was a great date. I said we leave when it's dark. Now we think a little bit earlier. So these two pictures here are from 2017 and we leave about 3:00 o'clock in the morning. Now, for a couple times we've left about 2:30. The first crew are called dark water paddlers because they leave when it's dark. It's an honor to be a dark water paddler. I've been in that first crew about seven or eight times, I've lost count. The honor is, to be in the first crew, to paddle when it's dark, which is an incredible experience. And we would mostly, our strongest, most experienced paddlers because they'd paddle from whatever time you leave. One morning we left at 2:30 in the morning and I was in that first crew. And we paddled from 2:30 to 6:30. Cause we wait for daylight so we can safely see and make a crew change.
So as I said, that's us making a crew change. We get a fresh paddlers. We put them in those rubber zodiacs with a little motor and we bring them out to the tomol. And one person gets out of the tomol and into the zodiac, or one person gets out of the zodiac and into the tomol. But the first crew paddles at a minimum 3 hours, sometimes 31/2, 4 hours. So dark water paddlers are very respected. If any of you, after I'm through talking, want to see a video, Google this, I hope you can see that it says, "Dark Water Journey, Eva Pagaling". So the young lady that I was messaging and sending messages to just before the program started, and we both signed off with love you and miss you.
They made a video about the dark water paddlers and Eva Pagaling was one of the first, she was a second, we've had one other woman be a dark water paddler. And her father is one of our captains, Reggie Pagaling, he's one of my dear friends. And I feel pretty confident that Eva, without a doubt is one of our stronger paddlers. And let me be clear on this. She's not one of our stronger women paddlers. She's one of our strongest paddlers. If I was going to pick a crew of six best paddlers, strongest paddlers to be in the tomol, moved to mine with six paddlers, she would be one of them. But I think I try encourage her and mentor her as much as I can. She's like a niece, even though we're not related and much like the Hawaiians and many other cultures, we all call each other cause anyway.
But I think she's going to be our first woman captain in modern times. It was the brotherhood of the tomol that build the canoes and where the paddlers and the seamen and the fishermen. But there's an old Chumash traditional story that says one day the wot, which is our leader, our chief, the wot's daughter was out fishing in her tomol. And coyote played a trick on her. Now there's a myth and legend that's thousands of years old. And that story is a very old story about the chief's daughter going out fishing on her tomol. There's a very good chance that women have paddled in our tomols for thousands of years. And the Chumash are one of those cultures that we've always had women leaders that lots of times the wot or chief of the family, the spiritual leader would pass on his title to his son.
But lots of times he doesn't have a son, he feels his daughter will be a good leader, he passes it on that leadership role that chief that wot roll to his daughter. And to give you an example, when the European people, the Spanish first came down the coast of California, it was reported by the Spanish that on the islands, the villages on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel, and they're all pretty close, they're all within 5, 6 miles of each other that each wot, each leader of each village from the islands would have big meetings once or twice a year. And they would pick the head wot of all the wots of all the leaders.
So there might be 20 leaders from 20 villages on these three islands and they would pick one to be the leader of the leaders. And at European contact in the 50s, in the mid 1500s, late 1500s, the head wot of all the islands was a woman. So we have always honored and respected our women. And if they're capable of being great hunters, fishermen, paddlers, and leaders, they will, they have, and we'll be in the Chumash culture and Tataviam are very similar.
Before I open it up for Q&A, I'll tell a little story because everyone loves a good story. I learned this story from Tony Romero, a very respected Chumash elder from San Ynez. I've never seen it written down I just heard Tony tell it dozens of times. And after hearing him telling it, I asked him for permission, if I could tell the story and he gave me permission to share this story about Bubo, the great horned owl. Now long ago, was not an owl. He was a songbird. Bubo was originally a songbird. He didn't look anything like Bubo the great horned owl. He had a round smooth slick head, he had little brown beady eyes. And a the long pointy beak that he would whistle and sing beautiful songs. And all the animals would come to listen to move Bubo the songbird sing his songs. And one day Bubo the songbird was up at a tree and Ursus the grizzly bear came by as he was whistling and singing his songs.
Bubo loved [inaudible 00:44:12] . I apologize for that. After a few minutes Ursus the grizzly bear goes, Bubo, come here I want to give you a hug cause I love your songs so much. I just give you a little hug and Bubo thought, "Well, he seems friendly, said he just wants to give me a little hug" and Bubo the songbird flew down. When he got close to Ursus the grizzly bear he saw how big he is. Claws as big as my fingers, 7 feet tall on his hind legs, 600 pounds and Bubo the songbird got scared and flew away. The next day Bubo the songbird was curious about Urus the grizzly bear. Was he friendly? Did he really want to just give me a little hug? And he went back to that same tree and Bubo to the songbird with his beautiful long beak, his round smooth slick head, those little brown beady eyes was whistling and singing beautiful songs.
You also left Frank once again.
I apologize. Ursus the grizzly bear goes, "Bubo, come here. I just want to give you a little hug of appreciation cause I love your songs. They're so beautiful". Bubo thought, "Okay, he seems friendly. He said he just wants to get me a little hug". And he flew down. When he got close to Ursus, Ursus reached out and grabbed him with those big old paws. And he gave him a big old hug. He goes, "Oh Bubo I love your songs so much. I'm going to give you just a little hug". He went and he gave him a little hug but a little hug to a grizzly bears, a big hug to any of us and those feather ears, that Bubo the great horned owl has copped out. That's how he got them. And Bubo says, "Ursus don't get me any more a hug you don't know how strong you are". And Ursus the grizzly bear goes," Oh, let me give you one more".
strong you are. Hoos the grizzly bear goes, "Oh, let me give you one more little hug." He went, "Ump," and gave him another little hug. He hugged him so hard, his brown beady eyes popped out and got real big and turned yellow. Muhu says, "Hoos, don't give me any more hugs. You don't know how strong you are. You're going to kill me." And Hoos, the grizzly bear says, "Okay, I won't give you any more hugs. I'm just going to give you a kiss." And he went, "Mmwa." He gave him a big wet, sloppy kiss on that beautiful long beak. If any of you have ever kissed a grizzly bear, you'd know they have really bad breath. His breath was so bad that when he gave Muhu, the songbird, that kiss his beak went and bent over. That's how Muhu the songbird became Muhu, the great one horned owl.
From Tony Romero, the very respected Chumash elder [inaudible 00:46:57] that has since gone on to the spirit world. I hope you liked that story. Let me open it up for some Q and A, and I'll try and answer as many questions as I can in the next 15 or 20 minutes and then I have another interview with a reporter at 7:30.
7:30, perfect. All right. Thank you so much, Alan. We do all love a great story and thanks for interpreting your whistles for us.
Young people out there don't know who Frank Sinatra is. Strangers In The Night.
Yeah. Thanks for your time. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences and for all your knowledge because we do have plenty of questions that people want to know more about. You ended your discussion with the tomols, the canoes. Someone was wondering, you mentioned gluing them. They were wondering what the early tribes used for glue.
The early tribes used the natural tar that seeps up. Carpinteria Beach, the Morro Bay, has a lot of it. Found it near Ventura. Then they would mix pine pitch, the sap from pine trees. They would mix pine pitch, the natural tar, mix both of them and it was called yoke. It's a very strong glue. We use the best marine glue that you can buy. We buy the strongest glue and we mix black paint, so it looks like the tar and our canoes still leak. They all leak. In the old days, they would take a young child and give them a large abalone shell like this and they'd be bailing out the water as the men were fishing and paddling.
Where are Chumash sacred sites on the central coast?
I believe when you look at our sky people, I tell a creation story, and the sky people are sky eagle, the golden eagle, sky coyote, sky lizard, sky snake, the sun, the moon ,and morning star. One of the reasons eagle is a very respected animal is because they can fly higher than any other bird, so they take our prayers up to the Great Spirit or whoever it is that we're praying to. Most mountain tops, when you look at certain areas, people say that the seven sisters going from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay, that almost every, at every peak, I said, we've been here for 13,000 years. You can pretty much guarantee that wherever there were villages in every town and in San Luis Obispo is built over a Chumash feelings. [inaudible 00:03:54].
If you just walk out and look, where's the highest spot close to that village, that's where they went up and did ceremony. Morro Rock is a very sacred. Mount Pinos is one of the most sacred. Mugu. There's another down by, just before you get into Malibu, there's Mugu Rock, which is kind of similar to Morro Rock, that was sacred. If you ever have the opportunity to go out to Painted Rock in the Carrizo is a national monument, that was a very sacred, but there's probably hundreds of sacred spots, mountain tops. Cause we always wanted to go up to the highest point. So our prayers go up.
And with that, someone of course was surprised that Magic Mountain was built on top of a village. They're wondering where they're not site monitors or it sounds like buildings are still being built on-
Yeah. Sadly, we didn't get laws to protect burial sites and village sites until the 1980s. So things that were built prior to that, I live in Ventura and the village of Shisholop, which is one of those major trade centers, basically the 101 went right through the village. It was pretty much destroyed.
Our educated guess is there's many construction workers that took home many stone bowls and pestles and arrowheads during construction of things like shopping centers and Magic Mountain and things like that. It's one of the things that we're thankful for that it's gotten much better. And government, in city, county, state, federal have to consult with the tribes, so things are much more protected than they were just 20, 30 years ago. It's still a problem. It's still difficult to deal with.
Marshall's wondering how else can the residents and government of San Luis or surrounding areas be better neighbors in a more supportive community to the Chumash and Tataviam people? What would you like to see?
There's a lot of ways. I said the only federally recognized Chumash tribe is Santa Inez. That's just for the Chumash people that trace back to the villages around the Santa Inez Mission. When you look at where the Santa Inez Mission is, that was one of the very small remote missions, probably one of the smallest remote missions at that time. They're a very small tribe. Depending on who you talk to, there's somewhere between, four to 5,000 people that can trace back Chumash ancestry, and there's only 300 Santa Inez tribal members. The majority of, of Chumash people are fairly not recognized.
The great thing about the times we're in, you can Google anything. You can Google Dark Water Journey and Eva Pagaling and that that video is going to come up. It's about a 15 minute video. You can Google Northern Chumash and the various nonprofit, I mean, not federally recognized tribes and groups will come up and lots of times there's more than one group. If you see the local groups doing anything, please support them. Anybody can write letters and just send an email to your Congress person saying that they should support the federal recognition of local tribes. Anyone can write to any Congress person, any Senator, any politician, city, county, state, federal, and encourage them to support all the federally non-recognized tribes. They know who they are, they know who we are, we're out there. We work with the federally-recognized tribes.
If they're under review, like the Fernandeño Tataviam, anybody can write an email to the Bureau of Indian affairs. It's called O-F-A, Office of Federal Acknowledgement. It's with the Bureau of Indian affairs. You can go to the Bureau of Indian affairs and their Office of Federal Acknowledgement and anybody can see the list of tribes that are being under review. If there's a tribe there that you want to support, maybe there's a tribe from where your family is from back East or in the Midwest or if you see any California tribes and you go, "I want to write letters of support." You know these tribes. You know, that they're still here and there are still tribal people and they should be federally-recognized. As we know how politicians work, they respond to pressure.
I'll get an, a shameless plug. I told you, I was ready for this. This is for my Fernandeño Tataviam tribe. If any of you Google Tataviam Land Conservancy, I tried to write a little bit bigger there, it says right there. I don't know if you can read the writing, but I'll read it to you right now. The primary purpose of the Tataviam Land Conservancy is to conserve lands within the traditional territory of the tribe for cultural enrichment and educational uses. What we're trying to do the Fernandeño Tataviam Land Conservancy is to acquire land. We have already acquired two parcels of land, both of them about 50 acres. We will put that land as open space and as a nature preserve, but we will oversee it.
I had a Land Conservancy meeting last night and we don't even have enough money to pay insurance. We need insurance now that we are legally acquiring the land. We need money to qualify to be recognized by other organizations like the Sierra club, the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. If there's any native groups in your area that are trying to work with the Sierra Club, that's another way you can help your local tribal people. They respond to pressure.
The Sierra club, they usually only reach out to us when they need to trap someone out in front of the camera at a public meeting. That this native person wants this land preserved as open space, so that we can go hiking and for tribal people, so we can go collect our plants. Then after the meetings and the TV cameras are shut off, they don't reach out to us very much more.
Encourage any environmental groups that you have in San Luis Obispo County to work with the local tribal people either individual tribal people to get the tribal perspective or the various tribal groups. In San Luis Obispo, there's, I don't know an exact number, but there's three or four. There's a Northern Chumash, a couple of Northern Chumash tribal groups, there's Salinan tribal groups, but just to encourage them to reach out to the Salian and Northern Chumash people is important that the environmental groups forget about us sometimes.
State parks. Make sure that that Los Padres National Forest is reaching out to us. I'm not sure what other, I know Los Padres National Forest goes a little bit into San Louis Obispo County. I'm not sure what other state, county, forest and national parks there are in San Luis Obispo County, but they need encouragement to reach out to tribal people.
In addition, are there any specific legal policies or initiatives right now that you know of that we can support?
Not that I'm aware of. The other thing that, and it's in Santa Barbara County, but it's pretty close to you guys. Once again, that Santa Inez. They have the casino and they're federally-recognized, but still they need support and they're going to be the first Chumash tribe or group to open their very own cultural center, their very own museum. For Chumash people, that's extremely important cause many of us, this is what we believe. I do things with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and they have a tomol that was built in 1912 by a Chumash elder named Fernando Librado. They have it on display at the museum. What most of us didn't know is that the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History doesn't own that tomol, it's actually owned by a museum in San Diego, which seems strange, but that happens all the time.
They had a group of Chumash people there with the San Diego museum people and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History people as they were negotiating a new contract. I pointed out to them that everything they have that is Chumash the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History as the largest collection of Chumash baskets in the world, beautiful baskets. I reminded the director, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, everything you have doesn't belong to, you belongs to us. Those are our baskets. That's our tomol. Those artifacts, those stone bowls, those pestles, those points, those knife points, spear points. Those are ours, and at some point, it may not be in my lifetime, at some point, you're going to have to give them back to us.
For Santa Inez to open their own cultural center, I think it will be open to 2021. I was by there about three months ago, we had a work day in our tomol, we has to put him in the water. Their walls are up and hopefully they'll be opening up pretty soon. Please, those of you, it's a great day. People from wine country, drive on down to Santa Inez and support them when that museum opens, because that's going to open the door for other Chumash-run cultural centers and museums to be built in the future. It'll set a precedent. That's another way you can support and if you know any Chumash people, take us out for lunch.
Yeah. Perfect. That's great. Thank you.
With it being Veterans Day, there was a Native American Veterans Memorial, which just opened today in Washington, DC on the Smithsonian grounds. Someone wanted you to just respond to that, comment on that.
As I opened, I'm the son of a Marine, my father was proud that he served in World War II and always wore his Marine emblem. The picture that I showed of him later on in life, he had that. I think most people know that, know this fact, but if they don't, I'll just state it again. Tribal people in America, indigenous people, native Americans, whatever adjectives you want to use to describe us. We serve at a higher rate than any ethnic group in America.
We have served in every major war, every conflict and served in all branches of the armed services. I personally believe, and this is just my personal opinion, it's because we love this land. I say this all the time, I was born in San Fernando, California, because my ancestors for the last five generations prior to me, six generations were brought to the San Fernando Mission. I'll die somewhere in Chumash or Tataviam territory because it's my home and I'll never leave it. We're always, Native peoples, proud of our service to America. We love it as much as any Democrat or any Republican and we're thankful that our soldiers and warriors are being acknowledged as all soldiers and warriors should be acknowledged.
In addition to the museums, how do you currently capture and preserve your stories and history of each tribe?
Okay, this person, isn't a plant. This is a shameless plug, but there's a lot of ways. There's a major revitalization of our canoe culture. There's a major revitalization of our language. There's language classes, tribes are having language classes, even the federally non-recognized tribes. I know the Northern Chumash, and I apologize if any of them are listening, they have a very long name, a yak yak, it's too difficult for me to, I don't want to mispronounce it. They have language classes.
Over the last 20 years, we've realized the importance of a family and documenting. I made about a 30 minute video of two or three Chumash stories. The Muhu, great horned owl story, and a couple of Chumash songs that hopefully I'll start being able to mass produce and I'll sell on my website, but I will put in a shameless plug for this.
If everyone can see this, this will be coming out within the next month or so. This is Tata, the Tataviam Towhee, a tribal story by Alan Salazar, [inaudible 01:06:38] and illustrations by Mona Lewis. Ernestine De Soto has a wonderful book that you can buy at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. I have a dear friend, Cindy Alvitre, who is a Tongva Gabrieleño. I was talking about my book to the archeologists I was working with last week and he goes, "Well, Cindy Alvitre just did a book." So we're starting to get out there. We're putting things on film to document our stories, our traditional myths and legends. The video I made are of traditional Chumash myth and legends. Julie Tumamait, who's a wonderful storyteller from the Ventura Ojai area and her family's island Chumash and have connections to several villages within Chumash and she's been videotaped so that those are saved.
I think in the next five years, you're going to be able to see, you'll be seeing at museums, more videos of traditional songs, bird singers, traditional stories being told by storytellers, Gilbert Unzueta, Ernestine DeSoto, Dennis Garcia, Cindy Alvitre. There are more and more stories out there. If there's any young people listening, I've realized the importance of storytelling as I've gotten older. I'm at the point where I want to pass that on, and what I hope to do when COVID is over, I want to start having storytelling workshops.
This is the first story I tell everybody. You, young lady, that's reading the questions and everyone that's listening, learn your family story. When I opened and I said, I get my tribal ancestry from my father's side of the family. I know the story of my great-grandfather, where my grandmother and my grandfather came from and I always encourage young children, sit down with mom and pop and when you're 12, 13, 14 years.
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When you're 12, 13, 14 years old, old enough to remember, ask them where they were born, what jobs they've had, ask them what jobs grandma and grandpa and what jobs and education and where did your great grandparents live? So fortunately for me, because of that San Fernando mission, we were able to get the San Fernando mission records, I can go back that my great, great, great grandfather, Francisco was one of three Indian men that was given a land grant from the San Fernando mission in the 1830s. It was a square league of land that's 1400 acres. No, I apologize. 4,400 acres, but those three men were given and basically three families. He passed it on to his daughter. So my great, great grandmother was a tribal leader and owned this land, but they only owned it for, that 4,000 acres, for literally three or four years.
And the Spanish and Mexican politicians started taxing and assessing them more taxes and more taxes and more taxes until they took that land away. That 4,400 acres became Rancho Encino and then in the early 1900s became the town of Encino. So when I say my land, my tribal land was stolen. We never signed a treaty for that 4,400 acres. It became the town of Encino, some of the most valuable land in the state of California. We were never compensated for it and that's not a unique story.
That story happened to thousands of California tribal people. Nothing unique about my family, incredible stories. There's nothing unique about them. It happened to... I could just list family after family after family.
On timing wise, you said that was what? 18?
1830. So that's when California was being transitioning from under the control of Spain to Mexico and both Spain and Mexico granted Native people's citizenship. So they realized, "Oh, wait, they're citizens. Well, we'll just tax them until they can't pay the taxes." My great grandfather, Antonio Maria Ortega was one of a group of eight men that was given a smaller parcel of land by the mission priest in the early 1870s and Charles McClay and Mr. Porter, from Porter ranch off the 118 now, realized that California, when they realized there was these eight families that had, and I don't think it was very much land 50, 60 acres in almost downtown San Fernando, because they were working to keep the mission going in the 1860s and '70s. The missions were really struggling. They didn't have any money coming in and it was basically the tribal people that helped build the mission. Those families, the Ortega family, the Orteez family, the Garcia Cook families, they were all working there in the mission.
Priests in 1870 gave them some land to farm and just try and survive on and Charles McClay, a early founding father of San Fernando, realized that there was these Indians that were living and he considered them squatters because California Indians had no legal rights in 1870. It was still the bounty system. So he took them to court and took the land away and had them evicted. So my great grandfather was evicted off that land.
So this happened twice to my family, land taken away and they were fined. So my great-grandfather had to work off his fines, which were, one fine was $500 and there was a couple of other smaller fines. So we think it was probably six, $700. Indian people in 1870 didn't have $6 or $7 let alone six or $700. So my great grandfather was an indentured servant. He had to work off that money and he worked for Charles at the Charles McClay ranch, and he didn't get paid. He was paying off his debt.
How did he escape the bounty hunters and execution then?
We think that his parents, my great, great grandparents... Well, what we've learned through family stories and San Fernando mission records is that I come from a long line and my father was a plaster. He worked with these his whole life and he was very proud that he was a journeyman plaster and he took pride in doing quality work. Every one of his sons, we all were scolded if we didn't do things nice and clean, neat and that's the way my great-grandfather was and my great, great grandparents and so on and so on. They were hard workers, highly skilled workers and when you look at that craftsmanship of the Chumash Tataviam, all California tribes, the Pomos were great basket weavers, we were highly skilled people when it comes to craftsmanship.
When California became a state, there was 140,000 California tribal people in the whole state. By the end of the bounty system in 1873, definitely by 1880, they estimate that tribal population throughout all of California had dropped from 140,000 to 15,000 and many experts think that it was less than 15,000. So there were a few tribes that became extinct, and there were many tribes that were close to extinction. The ones that did survive is because, like I said, we were the Indian Cowboys. We were the Vaqueros. We were Indian Vaqueros. We were Indian Cowboys and we were good, excellent horsemen. We were valued. The ones that survived was because they were valued as highly skilled hardworking people and that's tribal people across America. They're all highly skilled, hardworking people.
Awesome. All right, we're getting close on time, but we have a million questions left. So we'll try to get as many in as we can.
Ten more minutes.
Does it make you sad or offend you when sports teams use terms like Redskins or their team name or mascot?
It does irritate me. I think many people of color will tell you, you realize the hand that you're dealt and if you worry about it too much, you're going to have a miserable life. So you try and make your life as pleasurable as possible but it bothers me. I think it's wrong and I will share this quick story.
I put a curse on the Cleveland Indians over 20 years ago and the first year I put a curse on the Cleveland Indians, they made it all the ways to the World Series. They were up three games to two, and just about to win that fourth game when the team they were playing, and it might've been Tampa Bay got a run and pulled that game out and then took it to three to three and then they won the seventh game and the Cleveland Indians lost. Then they were lousy and it was because of my curse and because they had that cartoon character of Chief Wahoo on their baseball cap. If you don't think that's an insult, then you need to get your head out of the sand and understand racial equality. You need to go into the dictionary and read that definition, but the next time they made it, it was the exact same thing. They were up three games to one on the Chicago Cubs and if there's any baseball fans out there, you know what happened to that series. The Cubs came back from three, one, and won their first world series in over 50 years or whatever it was. The curse was lifted and I have still not removed that curse from the Cleveland Indians. They got rid of Chief Wahoo, but they took way too long.
Any Cleveland fans out there, I'll remove the curves from the Cleveland Indians if you make a thousand dollar donation to the Oakbrook Chumash Museum in Thousand Oaks.
Excellent. Someone's wondering if you have written a book, considered writing a book and/or are there books on the Chumash?
I hope to write a book about the history of our maritime culture, as best as I know it and my involvement in the last 23 years with our two malls. So it's, like I said, it's something I'm extremely proud of. It's a very small select group, probably less than 200 Chumash people that can even say they've been in the Chumash traditional canoe tomol. There's probably less than a hundred Chumash people that can say they've paddled in one of the crossings from the mainland to the Santa Cruz Island and there's only six of us right now that can say we've paddled in all of the crossings from the mainland to the islands in modern times and I'm one of them.
So I want to write a book about the incredible experiences I've been blessed. I've had so many incredible experiences. I have friendships and not just Chumash people. I mean, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, their first director Ed Cassano and his daughter was about seven or eight years old at our first crossing and I still stay in touch with Tara Rose and she's just a wonderful young woman. She's going to be a Marine biologist, very intelligent. As I say, our tomols are not just for Chumash people. We have tribal people from all around the world that have paddled with us. We've had the Italian tribal people, the Irish tribal people and the English tribal people, Maori tribal people, Hawaiian tribal people, Filipino tribal people. And I say this all the time, we're all tribal people. Young lady, you're a tribal person. My people lived a tribal life 200 years ago. Your tribal people lived their tribal life, probably about 2000, maybe 3000 years ago but we all come from tribal cultures. We were all hunters and gatherers.
Excellent. I think we need to let you go pretty soon. Any last, and I'm sorry for all the great questions we didn't have time to get to, any last thoughts? Any last thoughts for us? Someone asked what dreams do you have for the Chumash people in the near future?
Well, as I mentioned, I hoped that we find out that we, the Fernandeño Tataviam, do get their frame of recognition, letters of support to any Congress person would help. I think, letters to our Senator Kamala Harris, if she becomes our vice-president would be great to our new president, Mr. Biden would be helpful. I've learned over the years, I've been involved with protecting ancient Billy sites and working with developers and government agencies, tiny commissions, board supervisors, city councils for over 25 years, probably more like 30 years. I started in the early nineties in Bakersfield when I was living there and working with tribal people and it would nice to see some big things, to see the Northern Chumash fairly recognized, the Venterano, the Barbaranio, the Chumash get fairly recognized before I go up to the spirit world.
But I've realized that you have to make tiny steps before you can reach those big steps and I've thought about this a lot in the last couple of months and the last week has just focused me on this one simple concept. Now is the time for all of us to just sit down with our neighbors and have a cup of tea. I hate coffee. You can have coffee if you want. I'm going to have tea. Now is the time to sit down and go to a city council meeting and just listen, and then wait till the meeting's over and talk to your council members one-on-one. Maybe about something that was brought up that night that you're interested in. We need to start having one-on-one conversations with our Republican friends, with our Democratic friends, with our independent friends, with our vegetarians, with whoever's a little bit different than us. With your neighbors once again, and just start small.
I'll give you an example and I'm going to say it publicly, so now I have to do it. I want to sit down with some council members from Ventura, maybe the mayor of Ventura. I'm going to shoot him some emails and say, "I'd love to meet for tea at Palermo's, which is a nice coffee shop on main street in Ventura and I'd just like to talk to you about what are the current hiring practices in Ventura?" My observations, the police department, it doesn't have a lot of people of color. The fire department doesn't have a lot of people of color, and I'll just start there. If I can change fire departments, city, county, and state, to start hiring more people of color, that would be just major.
And then we'll worry about more men teachers. We need more men teachers in the lower grades. We need more teachers of color in the lower grades. That's where we can change this world. We teach the five-year-olds and six-year-olds that a person with brown skin is just the same as a person with white skin, black skin. We all have the same interests. So that's my hope, that we start taking some small steps. I have some Republican friends. I'm going to reach out to them here in the next week or two and I'll probably go, "Nana, Nana, Nana, you lost" but then I'll apologize and tell them that I still love and respect them. They're still my friends. I'll close on that.
Awesome. Thank you so much. I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Morton to close us out.
Goodnight everybody. I have another meeting.
Oh, there we go. Thank you. Very quickly, Alan helped me to understand a mystery, Sarah. It was Alan who put that curse on the Cleveland Indians. I always wondered where that came from. I'm going to follow up with him because we lived just outside Cleveland for a number of years, and I have some stories to tell about some of the efforts that were underway there. I want to thank both Sarah's for the interpretation. Thank you so much for being a wonderful interpreter for us once more, Sarah, and thank you, Sarah, for your service as a moderator.
Two board members, Kendra Paulding. I'm going to recognize both of these folks. Kendra and Michael Boyer were instrumental in making this happen tonight or helping to put all of this together and I really want to thank them as well.
So Alan has given us a lot to think about he's given us a lot of information, and I'm going to chop that up to an opportunity for all of us to engage in our own personal journey around educating ourselves on Native American and American Indian history and Chumash culture and history, especially.
And then lastly, just a reminder about our next program, which you can learn more about online over the next several weeks. January 6th, we will have a program in Pasa Robles, which is related to the arts and the themes include fostering diversity through the arts, promoting the arts in the park. This is, by the way, in association with the studio in the park up in Paso Robles.
So again, this has been a wonderful evening, great conversation, great dialogue and Alan Salzar has helped us to better understand a lot of what's going on around us and how and what ways we can be involved with the Chumash people and other people who are different. Thank you for joining us, everyone. Have a great night and we will see you at the next program. Goodnight.
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