<b>PEOPLE OF THE SEA:</b>  A group of Chumash gather at dawn at West Beach to celebrate the summer solstice.

Jeff Mahoney

PEOPLE OF THE SEA: A group of Chumash gather at dawn at West Beach to celebrate the summer solstice.

Indigenous Watercraft Fest in the Works

Three-Day “Voices of the Ocean” Event Planning for Summer Solstice 2014

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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If all goes as planned, there could be more than 1,000 Native Americans from all over the West Coast and beyond coming to Santa Barbara for next year’s summer solstice weekend, bringing with them their peoples’ traditional boats in a collective effort to connect across tribal lines, educate the public, and inspire the next generation to respect living cultures and protect the health of the ocean.

That’s the intent of the Voices of the Ocean: An Indigenous Watercraft Festival, a free event being scheduled for June 20-21, 2014, on the sand at West Beach. Spearheaded by longtime ocean advocate Edward Cassano as well as Chumash elders Reggie Pagaling and Marcus Lopez ​— ​who are part of the team that has built and paddled traditional tomols across the Santa Barbara Channel ​— ​the festival would be the first attempt to gather such a wide cross-section of cultures and their canoes, and it was recently boosted closer to reality with a $20,000 matching grant from the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians.

Cassano, who worked on marine reserves for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and helped start the S.B. Maritime Museum, among other ocean-related career moves, became enchanted with the indigenous watercraft world in 2001, when he was on Santa Cruz Island to witness the first-ever crossing of a traditional Chumash tomol in 135 years. “The power of that experience changed my life,” recalled Cassano, whose daughter, then 7 years old, was profoundly moved by the event, and is now, at age 19, studying ancient cultures at St. Andrews in Scotland. “How do you bring that out for everybody?”

A much smaller, invite-only gathering was held this past summer solstice, when about 50 people gathered at West Beach to welcome the dawn with a Chumash ceremony. “The Chumash believe that their ancestors came to us from the ocean,” said Cassano of his motivations for starting the fest, explaining that he hopes to have a storytelling pavilion, discussions on various ocean issues, and chances for the public to try paddling themselves. “And we need to give the ocean a voice, too.”

To learn more and support the event, see


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Very cool. And here I thought this was an article about another panga.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 12:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, don't be TOO disappointed - I'm sure the usual panga "advocates" will try to use the first tomol crossing in 135 years as "proof" that someone could actually be stupid enough to even TRY sailing a panga all the way up here from Mexico.

In fact, I think this could be the Sheriff's best chance to shut me up for good: I challenge him to load 2,000 Lbs of sand in a 30 footer and not only go to the isands, but past them and then make a sweeping left turn and head towards Mexico. He should bring a camera crew and his PIO with him so this legendary feat can be documented for posterity.

But of course, the Sheriff will do no such thing - he really couldn't care less if anyone believes his hogwash or not because the federal government is his master, not the voters of SB county.

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 4:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Great idea! What an amazing way to preserve tradition and educate the community on its history. I hope they make this happen. I would love to experience this for myself.

Nockamixon (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 3:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fantastic idea, and the Casino can foot the bill.
Everyone should go to Hendry's and check out the canoe.
Yea spirit, the sheriff is really worried about your nutty opinions...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 6:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

italiansurg, if don't like what I've got to say, you're welcome to take the Sheriff's place on that panga cruise - and just think, if by some miracle you do make it to Baja, you'd be the star of your own spaghetti western style panga/pirate special. YAY!

As for my "nutty opinions", based on the amount of time the Sheriff's hysterical PIO spends stalking me here and at SB edhat, I think it's pretty clear that Bill Brown is very worried about ANY real scrutiny of his little panga charade.

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Great Oz has spoken.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 7:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh please, KV - who's the "oracle" that feels compelled to weigh in on absolutely every topic under the sun? (Hint, it aint me!)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 8:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Spirittugmuscle, law enforcement has zero interest in you, let alone your epic delusions.

No worries bro, I enjoy the clumped spaghetti that falls out of your mind. Very funny.

I'm looking forward to the event next year. Should be cool.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Then why do you feel the need to respond to anything I say you pathetic little clown(s)?

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2013 at 8:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

...and floatopia gets banned

loonpt (anonymous profile)
July 5, 2013 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You don't cognate the difference between this Chumash event and a Cocktail Party, LoonPt?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 5, 2013 at 1:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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