Friday, March 30, 2012


Because I spend the winter months in Malibu I was intrigued by an article in the local "Surfside News" on February 16,2012. Chumash are Native Americans that lived in the Malibu-Santa Barbara area in prehistory. And some of their descendants still do The article headlined "Chumash Cemeteries Were !Preservation Opportunity."

Here's an edited overview:

Some Malibuites may be unaware that they drive, shop and in some areas even live on what was once consecrated ground. Large Chumsh and pre-Chumash cemeteries are known to have existed at Arroyo Sequit, Trancas Canon, Point Dume, Paradise Cove, Solstice Canyon and Malibu Lagoon (near the present day famous surfing beach). Archaeologists estimate there are hundreds of smaller grave sites scattered throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.

A number of significant Chumash sites were leveled or buried in the 1930s and 1940s to make way for Pacific Coast Highway. Archaeologist E. K Burnett, in a monograph published in 1944, describes numerous finds hastily excavated by teams attempting to survey and catalog sites before road crews bulldozed them.

The Trancas Canyon Cemetery site or CA-LAN-197, was initially excavated in 1968 by a group of Malibu residents. UCLA archaeologists David Thomas and John Beaton later stepped in to supervise he excavation. The site, located under what is ow the Trancas Garden Center and the shopping center parking lot, contained more than 100 burials dating to approximately 310-430 B.C., according to radiocarbon data.

Two cemeteries associated with Humaliwo -- the Chumash community that gave Malibu its name -- located along the edge of Malibu Creek at the Malibu Lagoon, cover a 2500 year period of Malibu history according to archaeologist Chester King.

Chumash and pre-Chumash burials continue to be unearthed in Malibu. UCLA field school students have been involved but according to a 2002 article in American Antiquity "The collections and associated documentation were in a state of disarray. Hundreds of hours were spent on organizing

and analyaing the Malibu material, including the artifacts, skeletal remains and documentation."


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