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Chumash traditions taught to local troop

Posted: December 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Dennis Garcia, left, displays Chumash crafts and tools he made in the traditional ways of his Native American ancestors for Girl Scout Troop 6412 in Newhall on Saturday.

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About 100 people gathered Saturday in Newhall for a history lesson in the form of an event dedicated to commemorating and teaching the culture of the Chumash Native American tribe.

The event, held at the William S. Hart Ranch and Museum, was meant to show people a side of the history of the Santa Clarita Valley they may not get otherwise, according to Rachel Barnes, the education and volunteer coordinator with the Ranch and Museum.

“This history that we’re showing here is a part of everyone’s history,” Barnes said. “And this event presents a good way to experience that.”

The Chumash tribe lived primarily on the coast of California but their range included areas just outside the Santa Clarita Valley, Barnes said.

Displays and activities at the event showcased different facets of the culture and lifestyle of the Chumash tribe, including basket-weaving, cave-painting and clothing.

Dennis Garcia, a traditional Chumash dancer and storyteller, showed some of the traditional items he uses in holy ceremonies. Speaking through a cloud of burning ceremonial sage, Garcia explained to attendees how to both make and use Chumash ceremonial items — including rattles, masks and animal effigies carved from stone.

“There are very few of us out there keeping the culture alive,” Garcia said. “Kids in California may not know too much about the native history here, and this gives a chance to show them.”

Garcia also demonstrated a ceremonial dance, much to the delight of 9-year-old Rebecca Kim.

Rebecca’s mother, Sun Hee, said the event provided a prime opportunity for her children to hear the history of the Chumash and “learn some wisdom from the ancient culture.”

Palmdale resident Lejui Brand agreed.

“It gets people outside and shows them they need to get in touch with nature,” Brand said. “Plus, it shows kids that they need to maybe put the video games down for a bit.”

Longtime Hart Ranch and Museum volunteer Judy Beadles said education was the primary point of the event.

“Some kids don’t really know there weren’t always grocery stores and cars around,” Beadles said. “Events like this show and teach them to appreciate another way of life.”



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