The annual Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day celebration was held on Saturday on the tribe’s reservation in Santa Ynez.
The event was hosted by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Environmental Department with the purpose of sharing information “about the importance of environmental resources with the community here locally on how to protect and conserve,” Teresa Romero, Environmental Director for the Santa Ynez Chumash Indians, told the News-Press.
The zero-waste event featured activities for all ages including arts and crafts, a raffle, special appearances by Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear and a food truck with tacos and fry bread for sale. Raffle prizes included watercolor prints, an at-home composting unit, plants from the tribal nursery, Pendleton packable outdoor blankets and more. The first 150 registrants also received a swag bag upon entry.
The Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day has been an annual event for over ten years until a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first in-person Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day since the pandemic began.
“This event is special because it is an earth day community event that is Chumash focused and is open to the public. Tribal departments come to share about their work including: Chumash Environmental, the Tribal Clinic, Aho Youth Council and the Culture Department. We invited other environmental departments to come as well,” said Ms. Romero.
“It felt wonderful to be in person and with the community again, that hasn’t happened in a really long time. I think people really enjoyed being able to be in the community today,” she added.
One unique aspect of the Earth Day event was a clothing swap.
“It went really well. We had people bring and take clothes. It’s the first swap in our area I know of. We were really excited to have it happen. We had people come and drop off items and then go through and take other items. What wasn’t taken was donated to People Helping People, a non-profit organization,” Ms. Romero said.
This was the largest event hosted by the Santa Ynez Chumash to date.
“We had nearly 200 registrants and probably more that didn’t register. We also had more vendors and organizations. It went exceptionally well and I have had nothing but wonderful responses from the folks that stopped by to share about their day here,” said Ms. Romero.
Over a dozen local businesses and organizations attended, including the U.S. Forest Service, Quail Springs Permaculture, Santa Barbara Permaculture and the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity. The tribe’s Culture, Education and Health departments also attended.
The Environmental Department was established by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ Tribal Government in 1998. Its mission is to prepare tribal lands for environmental adaptation, to protect and regenerate natural resources and to cultivate the connection between culture, spirit, and community through collaboration and education. The department implements education and outreach, zero waste, water resources, climate adaptation and habitat restoration programs for the tribal community. To learn more about its programs and efforts in the community, visit www.syceo.org.