Nicholas Canyon Chumash Discovery Village
Wishtoyo Foundation's Chumash Village is a unique, authentic re-creation of a working Native American village on a four-acre historical site at Nicholas Canyon County Beach in Malibu, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. The only living Chumash cultural village of its kind in Southern California, the village was constructed on property managed by Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, Wishtoyo's partner in the project.
Wishtoyo's Chumash Village on Facebook
Banque (roof shelter) in Sil-i-yik (Gathering Circle)
Wishtoyo utilized traditional methods and materials in the construction of the Malibu Chumash Village with a goal of raising awareness of Native American people's relationship and dependence upon the natural environment. With several completed aps, and more in progress, Wishtoyo has created an outdoor living history museum commemorating the people who thrived for many centuries in Southern California. Creating authentic replicas of Chumash dwellings - aps, a sea worthy canoe (tomol), tools, and handicrafts, in addition to performance of ceremonies, blessings, solstice and celebrations, the Chumash Village offers students and the general public a unique, multi-sensory experience of a native Chumash Village.
Wishtoyo's Stream Restoration, a massive habitat restoration of Nicholas Canyon Creek (adjacent to the Village), brings an broader opportunity to experience the natural resource habitat upon which Native peoples thrived. The freshwater stream, native plants and wildlife and marine resources combined to provide a rich and diverse resource for food, medicines, clothing, shelter, tools and utensils to the Chumash. Visitors can experience this special relationship to nature and develop their own personal connection at this ancient site.
History of the Site
Wishtoyo Foundation commissioned a literature review and archaeological assessment of the project site, confirming the area is the historic home of Chumash Native Americans. Eight Chumash prehistoric archeological sites were recorded within a half-mile of the Village radius and artifacts were observed throughout the site. Prehistoric artifacts and burials indicate that occupation occurred as early as 4000-6000 BC. (Chester King, Archaeological Reconnaissance and Recommendations for Preservations of Archaeological Remains at Nicholas Canyon County Beach, April, 2001)
The Chumash are considered to have been one of the most complex non-agricultural societies. They maintained the most complex bead money system documented anywhere in the world. During the mission period, many Chumash adopted Spanish surnames to hide their identity and avoid relocation to the Spanish missions. Since the Chumash have no written language, there are few birth records identifying Chumash people, and as a result, many Latino residents in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties today, are of Chumash descent.
Visitors are transported back in time, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of a Chumash village. Tours explain a typical day in a Chumash village, demonstrating how houses were built, clothes were made and food was prepared using the available natural resources. Ceremonial leaders tell stories and explain the Native American's reliance upon, and respect for, the natural surroundings. Solstice and other celebrations are marked by ceremonies, as in ancient times; dances are performed by Dolphin Dancers from the Santa Clara Valley River Chumash Turtle Clan. The village tour highlights a culture that lived in balance with nature and reinforces the need to change contemporary behaviors that are damaging our environment.
Visiting the Chumash Village
The Chumash Village is open for guided tours and presentations, by appointment. (Click for Contact Information and Directions.) On-site cultural appreciation and environmental awareness programs are offered to elementary school students in the Los Angeles County and Ventura County School Districts. The village site is easily accessible by car from Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, with extensive public parking available.