A Living History
The presence of yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash (ytt) in the area of San Luis Obispo County and Region date to time immemorial with evidence of our families living here for thousands of years. We have an unbroken chain of inhabiting this one region and we remain standing in this defined place. Despite the introduction of European diseases, the inhumane ideologies of the Spanish mission system, the Mexican conquest and American colonization- all forces that contributed to the near decimation of our Tribe- we survived and we remain resilient. Through all these challenges and attempts at direct and indirect genocide of our people, we never lost our connections to each other and to our homeland. Our homeland was taken from us through confiscation without our agreement, consideration, or compensation. Our language and culture were outlawed and our basic human rights were disregarded and dismantled. Nevertheless, we are still standing in our defined place. In spite of disproportionate odds against us, the ytt Northern Chumash culture survives.
It is our responsibility to preserve and pass on our cultural traditions to future generations so as to ensure the well-being of our families and our Tribe. This includes our understanding that protecting the land is the same as protecting ourselves. The health of the sky, the land, and all waters is the same as our own health. We recognize that this health and well-being is needed by all people, and we hope all people will join us in respecting our homeland.
Currently our Tribe has status as an Acknowledged Tribe by the California Native American Heritage Commission. This is not the same as Federal Recognition, which would allow us to have a greater voice on some very important issues. Regardless, we never quit working to protect our culture, traditions and cultural landscapes.
We look for ways to share and educate the broader community about our elegant culture and our deep history. When we’re invited to speak to an organization or to students, we try to say yes, as we want residents to understand the amazing indigenous history of this region. We want the community and visitors to know that although the missionaries came to civilize us, the real truth is we already had a sophisticated civilization that had existed for thousands of years. Our ways included spirituality, commerce, trade routes, currency, artistic expression, music, and exquisite craftsmanship with the ability to make a great variety of tools, tule rush homes and watercraft. We were weavers of incredible baskets. "Our basketry is stunning and is considered some of the best in North America and throughout the world. Their intricacy and symmetry reveal sophisticated mathematical concepts that are found in nature, further expressing our connection and relationship to our homeland," as said by Leah Mata-Fragua, Tribal Council Member. We continue today to work with natural materials to make baskets and regalia. We used effective environmental strategies so that our families and villages would thrive and we seek to continue these strategies. Fortunately, our culture endures today and remains part of our community.
We are proud of our heritage, our people, and the beautiful land we call our home. We are active today in the protection and preservation of our traditional ways and places. Much of our time is spent engaging with city, county, state, and federal agencies to provide guidance on protecting our irreplaceable cultural and traditional resources. We encourage you to contact us as our partnerships continue to grow. Helping each other is not only important, but vital to all.
We have met incredible obstacles in the past, but we look to our future as limitless. We are still standing in our defined place.