The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has not been able to celebrate holidays such as Indigenous People’s Day with large events this year.
California Native American Day passed Sept. 24; the inter-tribal pow wow was canceled, and today is Indigenous People’s Day. All have been commemorated individually.
Despite losing these opportunities to share Chumash history, the tribe’s roots are not at risk of being ignored.
The Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center is currently under construction.
The vision for the museum goes back to the ‘70s when Chumash leaders set up displays of traditional dwellings, tule huts or “aps.”
But the 14,000 square-foot museum will give the tribe more opportunities to educate people and engage partnerships.
“We have over 20,000 cultural objects that we’ve been putting aside, so we can share our stories and display once we have an actual museum site and museum facility built,” Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Chairman Kenneth Kahn told the News-Press.
He estimates that doors will open in the “first quarter to middle of next year.”
There will be a permanent collection and rotating exhibits, so neighbors can return and learn more.
Outdoors on the 3.5 acre property, there will be more opportunities to learn and storytelling moments throughout a landscaped garden.
“The museum building itself is an exhibit,” Chairman Kahn said. “It represents some of the natural stone that is found in our territory. The ap structures are implemented into that.”
The pandemic-induced supply-chain shortages have delayed the construction, but crews have found solutions to each hiccup.
“We see a lot of those delays as minor, especially after this has been in the works since the 1970s,” he said. “A couple of months is certainly just a small setback really — if I could call it a setback for us. The dream is still within striking distance.”
While the community waits for the building and exhibits to be complete, the public can watch informational videos about Chumash heritage at youtube.com/user/chumashlife.
There are videos about government, language, business and more.
Chairman Kahn also has partnerships with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and local universities’ anthropology departments.
“We have so much history, but also we have so much in modern times here to share,” he said.
Recently, the tribe was recognized for having zero waste, which includes the Chumash Casino Resort.
“Our relationship with Mother Earth and Father Sun are extremely important, so the tribe has a lot of objectives to lower our carbon footprint,” he said.
The tribe is also motivated by community and is impacted by numerous social justice movements.
Chairman Kahn is excited to share more with others in November, Native American Heritage Month, and even more when the museum opens.