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Chumashan Family

 Native American Nations | Linguistic Families                   

  • Santa Barbara, Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc., Lond., 85, 1856 (includes Santa Barbara, Santa Inez, San Luis Obispo languages). Buschmann, Spuren der aztek. Sprache, 531, 535, 538, 602, 1859. Latham, Opuscula, 351, 1860. Powell in Cont. N.A. Eth., III, 550, 567, 1877 (Kasuá, Santa Inez, Id. of Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara). Gatschet in U.S. Geog. Surv. W. 100th M., VII, 419, 1879 (cites La Purísima, Santa Inez, Santa Barbara, Kasuá, Mugu, Santa Cruz Id.).
  • Santa Barbara, Gatschet in Mag. Am. Hist., 156, 1877 (Santa Inez, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Id., San Luis Obispo, San Antonio).

Derivation: From Chumash, the name of the Santa Rosa Islanders.

The several dialects of this family have long been known under the group or family name, “Santa Barbara,” which seems first to have been used in a comprehensive sense by Latham in 1856, who included under it three languages, viz: Santa Barbara, Santa Inez, and San Luis Obispo. The term has no special pertinence as a family designation, except from the fact that the Santa Barbara Mission, around which one of the dialects of the family was spoken, is perhaps more widely known than any of the others. Nevertheless, as it is the family name first applied to the group and has, moreover, passed into current use its claim to recognition would not be questioned were it not a compound name. Under the rule adopted the latter fact necessitates its rejection. As a suitable substitute the term Chumashan is here adopted. Chumash is the name of the Santa Rosa Islanders, who spoke a dialect of this stock, and is a term widely known among the Indians of this family.

The Indians of this family lived in villages, the villages as a whole apparently having no political connection, and hence there appears to have been no appellation in use among them to designate themselves as a whole people.

Dialects of this language were spoken at the Missions of San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Iñez, Purísima, and San Luis Obispo. Kindred dialects were spoken also upon the Islands of Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz, and also, probably, upon such other of the Santa Barbara Islands as formerly were permanently inhabited.

These dialects collectively form a remarkably homogeneous family, all of them, with the exception of the San Luis Obispo, being closely related and containing very many words in common. Vocabularies representing six dialects of the language are in possession of the Bureau of Ethnology.

The inland limits of this family can not be exactly defined, although a list of more than one hundred villages with their sites, obtained by Mr. Henshaw in 1884, shows that the tribes were essentially maritime and were closely confined to the coast.

Population.—In 1884 Mr. Henshaw visited the several counties formerly inhabited by the populous tribes of this family and discovered that about forty men, women, and children survived. The adults still speak their old language when conversing with each other, though on other occasions they use Spanish. The largest settlement is at San Buenaventura, where perhaps 20 individuals live near the outskirts of the town.

Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891

Linguistic Families


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