1. a member of an American Indian people who formerly inhabited the southern California coast from San Luis Obispo to Santa Monica Bay, as well as the Santa Barbara Islands and the interior westward to the San Joaquin Valley: noted for their sophisticated seacraft and rock paintings.2. any of the Hokan languages of the Chumash, at least six in number, all now extinct.Seph. /khooh mahsh"/; Ashk. /khoom"euhsh/, n., pl. Chumashim Seph. /khooh'mah sheem"/; Ashk. /khoo maw"shim/. Hebrew.Humash.
* * *▪ peopleany of several related North American Indian groups speaking a Hokan (Hokan languages) language. They originally lived in what are now the California coastlands and adjacent inland areas from Malibu northward to Estero Bay, and on the three northern Channel Islands off Santa Barbara.The Chumash were among the first native Californians to be encountered by the Spanish-sponsored explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (Cabrillo, Juan Rodríguez) (1542–43). At the time of colonization, the Spanish named the major Chumash groups the Obispeño, Purismeño, Ynezeño, Barbareño, and Ventureño (for the Franciscan missions San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, La Purísima Concepción, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, and San Buenaventura, respectively), the inland Emigdiano and Cuyama, and the Isleño.Traditionally, the majority of the Chumash population lived along the seashores and relied for food largely on fish, mollusks, and sea mammals and birds. They also collected a number of wild plant foods; most important among these were acorns, which the Chumash detoxified using a leaching process. Their houses were dome-shaped and large; normally each served several families and had several rooms. Villages formed the basis of Chumash political and social organization. The Chumash were skilled artisans: they made a variety of tools out of wood, whalebone, and other materials, fashioned vessels of soapstone, and produced some of the most complex basketry in native North America. The Chumash were also purveyors of clamshell-bead currency for southern California.Early 21st-century population estimates indicated some 7,000 Chumash descendants.
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