The Chumash are a coastal people whereas the Yokuts are inlanders. On an ancient fertile wetland, the Carrizo Plain in Southern California, at the base of mountains that separate the inland basin from the sea, is a borderland where the Chumash and the Yokuts co-existed. I spent a few glorious days absorbing the environment on the Carrizo Plain and the predominant vibe I got was “ease”.  I can’t envision anything but a totally peaceful and abundant lifestyle on the Carrizo Plain.

Water is abundant and so follow the wildlife. Elk, pronghorn antelope, small game, waterfowl, and an infinite garden of grasses, seeds and flowers were on the Carrizo Plain supermarket shelves. It is difficult to imagine an intense competition for resources in such a prolific food environment. It feels very much like a place where disparate cultures could meet to trade and collaborate on cultural and spiritual matters.

In another post I will highlight what is called “The Largest Pictograph Site In California”, Piedra Pintada or Painted Rock. True to its name it is an enormous bedrock amphitheater splashed with hundreds of painted images. It was clearly a shared high holy site for both the Chumash and the Yokuts and both liberally covered the monument with sacred symbols from different cultures with very different artistic styles. But like Painted Rock, smaller village sites along the foothills also shelter ceremonial alcoves where ancient stories are told in different pictograph languages.

This video highlights some of the smaller pictograph sites in Carrizo Plain rock shelter villages and some of the different ways that the Chumash and the Yokuts visually expressed their stories hundreds of years ago.


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