History of the Chumash 18th century Essay.

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The Chumash, commonly known as Native Americans are a community of people who historically, are the primary inhabitants of the southern and central regions of the state of California, in the United States of America. The portions of their main occupational areas now include Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties (Bandini 43). According to archaeological research evidence, the Chumash people are conclusively believed to have lived along the south of California Coast for epochs and have profound roots around the area encompassing the Santa Barbara Channel (McCall 12). Thriving successfully at an early stage of prehistoric California, some Chumash settlements are dated to being at least 10,000 years old an example of which is the famous Millingstone Horizon site which dates between the years 7000 Cal BC to the year 4500 Cal BC. Evidence gathered to support these findings relies primarily on the processing of mutates, manos and seeds (Sanger 33). Many scholars believe the substantial decline of the Chumash population occurred during a “protohistoric” era which took place between the years 1542 and 1769. During this era, it is believed that there frequent interaction with crews of the Spaniards ships such as the crew from Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s excursion who took refuge in the Santa Barbara Channel bringing with them disease and death. Old world ailments such as small pox and influenza also massively contributed to the decline of the Chumash population to which they were susceptible to owing to the fact that they didn’t have immunological resistance to these ailments. The feeble treatments they possessed which were primarily composed of herbs could not handle the old world ailments and thus the diseases terribly afflicted the tribespeople. The Chumash population had declined to a mere 200 by the year 1900. The current census, however, elucidates the population at being between 2,000 to around 5,000, a fair improvement from the preceding tally (Champagne 16).  In this excerpt, we will examine the social, cultural, economic and political frameworks associated with the Chumash people during the 18th Century.

 

Social Life

            Before having contact with Europeans and other outsiders, the Chumash Indians (as they are sometimes referred), lived in a very different social setting, as opposed to the one introduced by the outsiders. The basic units of their society essentially included autonomous villages and towns, dissimilar to the norm of European societal structure in which the possession of a national identity was a prerequisite (Sanger 35). In many instances, a chief who proved efficient in the matters of ruling would preside over numerous villages although this did not give him supreme leadership power. In many instances, the chief, being the leader of the community obtained his right to preside naturally by birth or by the possession of seemingly superior leadership traits. The chief’s suitability to rein his community was measured by his ability to secure and maintain good relations with fellow leading chiefs and also his ability to successfully ensure fruition in the economic activities and endeavors undertaken by the society (Sanger 36).

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