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Native Americans of Santa Ines

Mission Santa Inés was located in the land of the Chumash people, specifically the Eastern Coastal Chumash who Professor Campbell Grant found "can be divided into three linguistic/geographic entities: Barbareno (named after Mission Santa Barbara) Ynézeño (named after Mission Santa Ines) and Ventureño (named after Mission San Buenaventura)." 1

The Chumash were an exceptional group of Native Americans whose characteristics and values impressed the Spanish who found them ”of good disposition, affable, liberal, and friendly" and "extremely intelligent and skillful." These Indians had well developed woodworking skills, evident in their planked seagoing canoe, called a tomol.

Fr. Pedro Font wrote of the Chumash: "I surmise that these Indians who are so ingenious and so industrious, would become experts if they had teachers and suitable tools or implements, for they have nothing more than flints, and with them and their steady industry they make artifacts."

The Chumash lived in well organized villages whose hemispherical houses reflected their considerable skill.2


From a outdoor display in Lompoc, created in 1992 by a group of artists led by Robert Thomas

Chumash rock paintings are considered "the most interesting and spectacular in the United States." There are eight known rock art sites in the Santa Ynez* area.



The Chumash located around Santa Inés depended more on hunting and gathering than fishing. Acorns and pine nuts were a primary food source; game birds and small animals were hunted with bows and arrows. 3 4

* Note: The spelling Ynez is used for the county and many sites in this area, including the Santa Inez Mountains where rock paintings have been discovered

  • 1. Mission Santa Ines and its Ecclesiastical Seminary by Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt, O.F.M., Mission Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara CA, 1932
  • 2. "Chumash: Introduction" pp 505 - 508, and "Eastern Coastal Chumash" 509 - 519 two articles by Campbell Grant in Volume 8 CALIFORNIA in Handbook of North American Indians, Smithsonian Institute: Washington D.C., 1978
  • 3. 3. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has an informative presentation on the Chumash, available at:
  • 4. 4. Brian Fagan has an extensive discussion of the Chumash on pp. 75-92 in his book Time Detectives. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. Available online at