Old Mission
Founded 1804
Capuchin Franciscan
Santa Inés
Solvang, California
Sacred Heart Sisters
Mission Santa Inés

The Chumash

The Spanish explorers and Missionaries were quite taken with the Chumash of the Santa Barbara Channel region. The peaceful native impressed the explorers with their friendliness, hospitality, creative abilities, and talents. The chaplain of the 1776 Anza Expedition, Father Pedro Font, described the Indians in his writings: "I surmise that these Indians, who are so ingenious and so industrious, would become experts if they had teachers and suitable tools or implements, for they have nothing more than flints, and with them and their steady industry they make artifacts."

The Chumash populated a wide area - from Santa Paula to San Luis Obispo. They had a diversified and interdependent economy based on their many talents and craftsmanship. The Chumash developed an excellent astronomical system, which was on a par with Europe in terms of accuracy. Their small, well organized villages, called rancherias by the Spanish-speaking settlers, were made up of many large huts built from poles of interwoven reeds. The Indians gathered and leached acorns, and they also harvested nuts, seeds, and berries. They were skilled fishermen and enjoyed a variety of sea food. They also hunted animals. Although their only tool was flint, the resourceful Chumash created well-constructed sea-going plank canoes.