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Chumash Folkways with Julie Tumamait

August 23, 2008

Next Julie Tumamait demonstrates how to use a thistle brush, and shares how plants work as medicine and food, and in daily life. The soaproot’s versatility makes it of utmost importance.

* A cleaning brush of soaproot used to wash hair, skin, clothes works well enough to get lanolin off the overalls of her grandfather; lye in soaproot also was used to stun fish.

“Bangs, the women, they liked bangs,” she says. “They’d singe the hairs to trim them, then used used soap root as hair gel. They also baked in the soaproot in beds of coal to eat them.

* Black walnut, green right now, rolling around here under foot, in November ready to collect and eat. Smaller tiny sweet to eat; they used walnut meat to shine stones and seal them. The walnut husks, like manzanita berries, used as dyes to stain and color baskets and other pigments.

* Wild cucumber seeds used as marbles make necklaces; roasted until black and gooey then used to paint medicine symbols for healing; also a tea used for child birth.

* For a blood infection or deep cut you’d use deer blood said to contiain arithromycine (spelling?) an antibiotic

* Cobwebs used as a bandaid

* Headache? wrap your head with a rattlesnake skin, or use willow like aspirin

* Chia seeds—beat the flower heads dry so they fall in your basket.

* Elderberry 1/3 the size of a blue berry—only eat a few as raw they can make you sick—needs to be cooked or turned into wine

* Dried Blossoms tea good for bronchitis

* Wood good for wands whistles bow and arrows

* Babies carried around in cradle board covered in moss as diapers to absorb all the wet; wild rose petals made babies smell nice and sweet

* Rose petals soaked in water and eyewash would soothe eyes

* Rose hips—tea, raw, string of necklace, earrings, perfume

* Toyon berry, roasted and dried, can be eatten; super hard wood made helper tools for digging, walking, feathered dance sticks, cradle boards, harpoons

* Ceanothus- wild lilac collect in spring ; wood good to build with , doesn’t rot

Next Julie Tumamait discussed musical instruments:

* bull roar made from elderberry by her dad who wanted to make a really big one. In ceremony, five men would get them going; instrumetns like these are found all over the world including Australia, New Sealand,  New Guinea, Laguna, Lakota, Hopi Navajo

* Deer used as clothing and food; hooves used as rattles; needles, hairpins.

* Ceanothus moth—starts as a caterpillar, the Chumash turned the cocoons into rattles

She shows us a deer hide rattle made in Taos, explains they placed the drying hide on two round rocks then attached each side.

Next time you have mussels or clams, she says save them and connect sides with glue gun—Chumash used tar.

Kelp bulbs also make good rattles.

Women pierced their ears with sea lion whiskers or yucca needles to make pretty, jingly jewelry; also clam shell bracelets.

The Chumash didn’t farm, but they dug bulbs: they big ones they kept, the smaller ones they spread out, leaving them behind to grow into bigger edible bulbs. They also did controlled burns.

Since they didn’t grow gourds, they traded for them and paint images on the with  various signs and symbols—like water spider, sun, moon.

The Spanish brought gourds, squash and corn.

Chumash had turtle shell rattles, sometimes several on top of each other, decorated with shells. They made music with whistles, too.

The Chumash loved games. They turned walnuts turned into dice by cutting them in half, eating the meat, and gluing together with tar.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MICHAEL MOORE permalink
    November 24, 2008 7:07 pm


  2. Tanya Ruiz permalink
    March 16, 2009 5:21 am

    Haku Julie Im proud you are sharing our culture you
    have my family surpport we Love you, your a big inspiration aho..

  3. terry Jones permalink
    February 22, 2010 7:43 pm

    Hi Julie I miss Ojai and enjoyed reading your stuff about Chumash
    Do you remember me?

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