Piedra Pintada / Painted Rock in the Carrizo Plain of California is a sacred landmark for the Chumash, Salinan, and the Yokuts people as it lies along the shared border territory of these various groups. One outstanding and unique feature of this natural rock outcropping is that it is shaped like a birth canal. And something unique about the huge painted frieze on the inner east wall is that some people believe it can be interpreted as the painting of one of the California native stories involving Sky Coyote and the Sun.

It is my understanding that hundreds of people used to (maybe still do?) gather at painted rock for ceremony. There is a little trail that leads up the outer west wall and I have heard that people used to scramble up that trail to the top of the rock outcropping and sit on top of the south wall, looking down into the amphitheater during celebrations. Both the interior and exterior of the enclosure have many rock shelters with smoke stains and extremely deep (as much as 12 or more inches deep) grinding holes. Also, all along the hillsides are similar village sites with rock shelters, grinding holes and pictographs. The Carrizo Plain, its lake and marshlands have been occupied extensively, probably since the beginning of humans on the North American continent. From this central meeting place one can draw shared cultural influences that extend throughout Southern California, out toward the Colorado River, and into what is now Baja California.

Watch the video below for a tour of Painted Rock and elucidation about some of the imagery that appears there as told from the Chumash perspective. To see more about the Carrizo Plain and other village sites near Painted Rock go to this link: Chumash & Yokuts Pictographs

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