Chumash, primarily on Santa Cruz Island, manufactured one of the few forms
of money recognized by the many Indian tribes in southern California.
They were experts in transforming sea shells into decorative ornaments,
and specialized in using the Olivella shells to form small shell disks,
*ponco*, that were strung on fibre twine and used as a form of currency
on and off the islands. The tightly woven, often water tight baskets of
the Chumash were also highly prized and admitted object of trade. The
island Chumash also traded chert blades and knives they had made using
island resources for things they could not find on their islands - deer
hides and antlers, and rabbit skins for blankets. They also traded for
chia seeds, wild cherry, acorn and pine nuts which they did not have on
the islands, using fish, sea lion meat and sea otter skins for trade.
acquired the red pigment used to paint their canoes from the inland Mojave
tribe who traveled two weeks on foot to bring their hematite mineral to
trade with the coastal Chumash. The seasonal ceremonies held at the larger
villages along the mainland coast were common times where the islanders
would cross the Channel in their tomol for trading - the most important
ceremony being the "Shup" or "Hutash" ceremony honoring the Earth Goddess
who was the source of terrestrial food - a ceremony similar to other harvest
festivals around the world, including the American Thanksgiving. The *Hutash*
Celebration could last five to six days, and was a time of much trading,
game playing and no doubt entrancing storytelling, linking the geographically
diverse Chumash villages closer to a unified world view and religion.