Naples Is Chumash Legacy

History can be explained only to those who seek the truth, Santa Barbara.

Yes, born in 1930, I remember the Depression. Those were hard times. I hear complaints how they went to get the government handouts—there were many throughout Santa Barbara. I can remember fixing the stones in a circle, getting the fire nice and hot, and placing the tub to wash clothes. Cutting up the soap and dropping it into the warm water in slices while you had food on your mind. You can smell the tortillas and beans and rice from a distance. That was our breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What good did it do to complain? We all had our jobs to do. We took turns with the wagon to go and get our government handouts. I learn we were all poor, not only those in Santa Ynez—How many were you? 35? Well, let me tell you something, there were hundreds of us who suffered. But we came through it; we were the poor Chumash, in the raw. We drew government funds to pay the rent, $12 dollars a month. We paid the ice man one dollar a week. We did not have lights in the house, we used coal oil lamps. My father died when I was going on five years old, in 1936. We lived a block from the swamps, went to school with some of those that lived on the reservation.

I could tell you a thousand things that kept us poor. “Born of Chumash blood?” you say. “Well, why did you not enter the reservation?” That’s a joke: Every time I tried my papers were lost. When the government sent out the notice that the rolls were opening up, I was in the hospital with a broken back. The timing was bad, but what could I do, So I made the best of it.

The things my mother, through word of mouth, passed on through the years. Santa Barbara decided to start selling outlying lands back in 1861. It filed a claim for the pueblo lands, several thousand acres in and around the City of Santa Barbara, The city hadn’t even received a clear title before they started to sell these lands in 1867.

Now you say you have Naples in your hands. A golf course, you say? What next? We gave you a Mission, our homes, land, and we suffered. How much more must you take? A Chumash monitor found artifacts which were sent to a contractors’ headquarters. Do you know what would happen using GPR (ground penetrating radar) on every inch of soil.?

Paul Pommier is a Barbareno Chumash elder

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