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The Chumash: First Peoples of UCSB and Isla Vista

By Donovan Velasquez

Are there Chumash sites around campus?

The short answer is YES! Before becoming the familiar area students know today, there were dozens of Chumash sites all around the Goleta Valley. Unfortunately much of the cultural significance of these places has been lost due to development projects which have left the landscape completely altered. Today many of us focus on the scenic beauty around UCSB and the rest of the Santa Barbara area but often fail to recognize what these places mean to the people who have been living here long before the city was established. Why not take some time to learn about some of the amazing places nearby and get a deeper appreciation of how these places have changed? Whether for a project or simply personal education, the history of these sites provide stories which will show just how much a place can change and will keep the cultural past alive. 

This map provides a way for people to take a look through time at their surroundings, from the site out at More Mesa to Henley Gate at our own front door. Next time you find yourself taking Route 217 to get back to campus, you will drive past these places and be able to share the cultural history of this place and may even inspire others to do research of their own. To get started, all you have to do is click the link below each timeline to get a rundown of the various uses of these locations. Have fun exploring! 

Peel Back the Layers of Time:


Explore Timelines for 3 Major Chumash Sites:

1.  Mexcaltitan Island



2.  Henley Gate



3.  S'axpilil: Golf Course





Chumash Place Names:

4.  Tiptip: "Much Salt" UCSB Lagoon

5.  Ansiq’oyo: ‘Place Of Manzanitas’ The main mesa on which Isla Vista sits

6.  Mixas: "Place of Sand" Modern Elwood Beach

7.  Sismikiw: "Place of Mussels" Goleta Point on the corner of Campus

8.  ‘Ukshulo’: "Stink Water" Currently called Devereux Lagoon

9.  P'ok'oy: The site of Coal Oil Point

Meet the Researcher

Thanks for checking out the map! I truly hope you learned something new and interesting about our surrounding area and just how much it has changed over time. Before doing the research for this page, I had no idea just how drastic some of these changes were and I didn’t want the cultural meaning of the land to be lost or overlooked by what sits there now. I love getting out and interacting with the environment and getting to educate myself about some of its past made me want to get out there more and rediscover much of what has been forgotten. Thanks again, and have fun exploring!

Donovan Velasquez

Biological anthropology major and education minor at UCSB

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