The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Chumash, an indigenous people of California, in Santa Barbara. The name by which they refer to themselves is ‘Samala.’
The Chumash are a Native American people who historically inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California, in portions of what is now San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, extending from Morro Bay in the north to Malibu in the south. They also occupied three of the Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel; the smaller island of Anacapa was likely inhabited on a seasonal basis due to the lack of a consistent water source. Modern place names with Chumash origins include Malibu, Lompoc, Ojai, Pismo Beach, Point Mugu, Port Hueneme, Piru, Lake Castaic, Saticoy, and Simi Valley.
Archaeological research demonstrates that the Chumash have deep roots in the Santa Barbara Channel area and lived along the southern California Coast for millennia.
Total population: 154 enrolled members
The Santa Ynez Band is headquartered in Santa Ynez, California. They are governed by a democratically elected, five-member tribal council. Their current tribal administration is as follows:
- Chairperson: Vincent Armenta
- Vice Chairperson: Richard Gomez
- Secretary/Treasurer: Kenneth Kahn
- Business Committee Member: David Dominguez
- Business Committee Member: Gary Pace
The Santa Ynez Indian Reservation (34°36′10″N 120°05′29″W) is the only Chumash reservation. It was 127-acres large and was established in 27 December 1901. Beginning in 1979, the tribe established a housing program and began improving the infrastructure on the reservation.
Samala Chumash Language
The last native speaker of the Samala Chumash language, also called Ineseño, died in 1965. As of 2010, there has been a renaissance of Chumash pride and identity, including efforts to revive Samala and other Chumash languages.
In the early 1900s linguist/ethnographer John P. Harrington worked with Maria Solares, one of the last fluent speakers of Samala. He created manuscripts containing information on Chumash language, culture, and traditions. Dr. Richard Applegate, who received a Ph.D. in linguistics from U.C. Berkeley, used these manuscripts to write an extensive grammar of Samala and compile a dictionary of the language, which was released in 2008. Dr. Applegate and Nakia Zavalla, the Cultural Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash and a direct descendant of Maria Solares, have begun an effort to revitalize the language. Applegate began teaching Samala in 2003, and Zavalla has spearheaded an immersion-based language apprentice program. As of 2008, Applegate had five language apprentices; however, none had yet reached full fluency.
The Santa Ynez Band owns and operate the Chumash Casino and Resort, as well as the Chumash Cafe, The Willows restaurant, and the Creekside Buffet, all in Santa Ynez, California