The Chumash Indians

By: Aubrey Manas

The Chumash Indians

The Chumash Indians are a native American tribe that lived in the California region. The California region was 7,000 square miles, stretching from Malibu to Paso Robles, and some of the Northern Channel Islands, and the Chumash took up a fairly small part of that land. Because of the Chumash's resources and location, shelter, food, and transportation, they lived a sedentary lifestyle.

Location and resources

The Chumash lived along the Southwest coast of the California region. they lived mostly on beaches, providing them with resources from both the land and sea. most of their resources from the land included things like grass, soapstone, sandstone, and others, while their resources from the sea included whale, Redwood trees that washed up on shore, and many other things that could be used to help them survive. All of these resources could potentially be used for food, clothing, and transportation. The Chumash's resources and location greatly impacted how they lived.


The Chumash had several options for shelter, but since they were sedentary, their best choice was a sweatlodge. Sweatlodges were mostly composed of earth, and covered with grass and willow twigs. They were also partly underground since they were permanent shelters. These materials were strong enough to withstand bad weather and hold up for a long time so the Chumash could live in them. Sweatlodges were the Chumash's main source of shelter because of their sedentary lifestyle.


The Chumash were very lucky when it came to food. Since they could either get berries from the land, or fish from the sea, their food resources were very abundant. While the Chumash would be just fine with acorn mush, they preferred whale or fish if their hunt was successful. The whale could feed many, many people and was very nourishing; the Chumash wouldn't have to eat much of the whale before they were full. The Chumash's sedentary lifestyle gave them more time to hunt for foods like the whale, increasing their chance of getting the families something to eat.


Most of the Chumash Indians' traveling occurred on water, so they needed some kind of boat. The boat that they used most often was called a tomol. Tomols were usually made of planks of Redwood trees. In order to make a tomol, you needed to be a very skilled craftsman. First, the craftsman cut the Redwood into equally sized planks; these would form the sides of the tomol. Then, he glued the planks together with tar. The tomol maker then drilled holes in the planks and tied them together using rope made from milkweed plants. Next, the craftsman spread tar over the planks to make them waterproof. To complete the tomol, he would decorate it with red paint and seashells. The tomol was then ready to be used.The Chumash's main source of transportation was yet another reason why they were sedentary.

The Chumash's Lifestyle

The Chumash Indians' resources, shelter, food, and transportation were all directly related to their geographic location. The Chumash Indians living in the California region and everything found in the California region determined their sedentary lifestyle. Everything that they were provided with helped them in having an easy way to survive.