Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

Chair Violet Sage Walker Honored with Sanctuary Wavemaker Award!

Picture of Violet Sage Walker & Fred Collins, text reads: Sanctuary Wavemaker Award: Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman, Northern Chumash Tribal Council & Fred Collins, Former Chief, Northern Chumash Tribal Council

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is giving the Sanctuary Wavemaker Award to Chair Violet Sage Walker & Chief Fred Collins at this year’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW)

Chair Walker will receive the award with special recognition for her father, the late Chief Fred Collins, as part of the Ocean Awards Gala for CHOW, the nation’s premiere ocean conference during World Ocean Month. The annual Gala recognizes champions of marine and Great Lakes stewardship, and will be taking place on June 4th in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations Chair Violet Sage Walker! A much deserved recognition for her and her father’s work on the proposed Chumash Sanctuary campaign

“My father, Chief Fred Collins, always said that we can and must do better, for Mother Earth, for the animals, and for each other. His dream of the Chumash Sanctuary is an important opportunity to do that. The Chumash Sanctuary is my father’s legacy and is a vital step in working towards his dream of a thriving future for all. It is an honor to receive the Wavemaker Award together and to carry his legacy of the Chumash Sanctuary forward.”

- Chair Violet Sage Walker

As we step into spring, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council is working to keep the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary on timeline. We are quickly approaching the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s mid-2024 target for the Chumash Sanctuary designation, but there’s still work to be done to ensure that the sanctuary is designated and over the finish line! 

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council Team is keeping the proposed Chumash Sanctuary in the limelight with outreach events and conferences.

Gianna Patchen is joined by a large group of ocean advocate partners in a group photo

Our team member Gianna attended an Effective Advocacy for Ocean, Coasts and Fisheries Campaigns workshop in Sacramento, CA and provided testimony to the California Senate about the Chumash Sanctuary.

NCTC team Mike Khus-zarate and PJ Webb are joined by Center for American Progress team Angelo Villa Gomez and Margaret Cooney alsong with Sheila Babauta in front of a Center for American Progress backdrop

Team members Mike Khus-zarate and PJ Webb joined the America the Beautiful for All Coalition's DC Fly In to advocate for ocean protection, environmental justice, and Tribal collaborative management in tandem with emphasizing the need to designate the Chumash Sanctuary as soon as possible.

NCTC Team Member Elena Giusto is joined by representatives from the Santa Lucia chapter of Sierra Club at SLO Beaver Festival

Chumash Sanctuary at SLO Beaver Brigade’s second annual SLO Beaver Festival! We held a collaborative booth with the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club and enjoyed conversations with community members and long-time supporters!

 Thank you all for your support in this final stretch towards Sanctuary designation!

Silver Spring, Md. – The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation announced the honorees for this year’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week Ocean Awards Gala, on June 4th in Washington, D.C., as part of the nation’s premiere ocean conference during World Ocean Month. The Gala annually recognizes champions of marine and Great Lakes stewardship. Previous honorees include Presidents, Members of Congress, world-renowned scientists and conservationists.

The Sanctuary Wavemaker Award will be bestowed to Chair Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, with special recognition for her father, the late Chief Fred Collins, former Chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council. Other honorees for the evening include White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, receiving the Leadership Award; and National Geographic Pristine Seas, receiving the Conservation Innovation Award.

This year’s Gala will honor Chair Walker and Chief Collins’ leading roles in the effort to designate a new Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary on the Central Coast of California. The Chumash Sanctuary is targeted for a mid-2024 designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Sanctuary Wavemaker Award honors dedicated citizens who are active advocates and ambassadors for our protected waters by conducting critical work that benefits national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments. Their outstanding Tribal grassroots efforts will create national to global impacts.

“My father, Chief Fred Collins, always said that we can and must do better, for Mother Earth, for the animals, and for each other. His dream of the Chumash Sanctuary is an important opportunity to do that. The Chumash Sanctuary is my father’s legacy and is a vital step in working towards his dream of a thriving future for all. It is an honor to receive the Wavemaker Award together and to carry his legacy of the Chumash Sanctuary forward.”

In his time as Chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Chief Fred Collins fought tirelessly to protect the Central Coast’s cultural and ecological resources. In 2015, he submitted the nomination for the proposed Chumash Sanctuary, with support from a coalition of Central Coast partners. In November 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced their intent to realize Fred’s dream and begin the designation of the Chumash Heritage Sanctuary–just 40 days after Fred passed into spirit. The list of Fred’s accomplishments goes on, but the breadth of his influence is impossible to fully encapsulate. His legacy will live for many generations to come as he continues to inspire us to fight for a thriving future.

Chair Violet Sage Walker carries on her father’s legacy and continues to forge the way in environmental justice. She worked alongside her father and then stepped into the role of Chair to carry on his legacy of stewardship and his dream of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. In the sanctuary’s final year towards designation, she is fearlessly leading the way. The sanctuary is targeted for a mid-2024 designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Chair Walker’s expertise guides NCTC’s multifaceted work in California and beyond, with decades of experience in cultural resource management and ten years working on the Chumash Heritage Sanctuary campaign. ​​She travels globally advocating for and sharing knowledge on Tribal collaborative management, social justice, and Tribal equity. Her work with the Northern Chumash Tribal Council touches on the intersectional issues in her homelands–the Central Coast of California–as well as nationally and globally, including marine protections, ecological restoration, combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with western science, and much more. Throughout her many roles is the ever-present connection to her family’s long-standing legacy of protecting the ecosystems, culture, and ancestors of this beautiful space we share. She carries on this legacy left by her late Father, Tribal Chief Fred Collins. Her leadership is backed by an understanding of what it means to take care of our place, be good stewards, and nurture multicultural community connections. 

“It is an honor to recognize the outstanding contributions of Chairwoman Violet Sage Walker and Chief Fred Collins, Chair Brenda Mallory, and National Geographic Pristine Seas as champions of conservation, advocacy, and policy change on behalf of our ocean and all people whose livelihoods and heritage depend on it. Each is an inspiring leader in our ocean community, much deserving of these awards,” said Joel R. Johnson, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve America’s maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develops strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. 

Learn more at marinesanctuary.org.

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC) is a California Native American Tribe and non-profit organization in San Luis Obispo County and northern Santa Barbara County. As a leader in local to global advocacy for Indigenous Peoples and environmental justice, they champion opportunities to protect our planet and our communities with Indigenous leadership at the helm. NCTC is dedicated to empowering Tribal members and the general community through a diverse array of community-driven initiatives centered around the interconnection between humans and Mother Earth. They are champions of environmental justice throughout their work, including cultural heritage protection, Indigenous leadership advocacy, incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge with western science, ecological stewardship and restoration, community development, sustainable farming and ranching, and more. The Central Coast’s lands and waters have been home to the Chumash Peoples since time immemorial. The Northern Chumash Tribal Council is committed to carrying on this ancestral legacy of stewardship and relational connections with Mother Earth and Grandmother Ocean. 

NCTC is the nominator of the first Tribally nominated national marine sanctuary in the United States, the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. This campaign is actively working towards ocean protection on the Central Coast of California with Indigenous leadership at the helm. NCTC collaborates with and mobilizes a large network of diverse partners and communities, including Tribes, Indigenous organizations, local community members, scientists, environmental organizations, youth leaders, faith communities, zoos and aquariums, federal, state, and local elected representatives, and more. The Chumash Sanctuary is in the final stretch towards designation, with a mid-2024 estimated designation timeline. The sanctuary’s final public comment period concluded in October 2023 with over 100,000 comments and 99% supporting sanctuary designation. Securing sanctuary protection will be an important win in the advancement of environmental justice in the United States’ marine protections.

PRESS RELEASE

San Luis Obispo, CA – The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is now recognized as a Mission Blue Hope Spot. This collaboration between the Northern Chumash Tribal Council and Mission Blue highlights the importance of designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary by mid-2024 to permanently protect the sacred and irreplaceable ocean ecosystems.

The Hope Spot encompasses the entirety of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary’s biggest possible boundaries, including over 7,500 square miles of ocean off of the Central Coast of California, home to an abundance of vital and vulnerable environmentally and culturally significant sites. The sanctuary would protect these waters from destructive practices, like oil drilling, seismic testing, seabed mining, habitat destruction, and loss of Chumash cultural sites. It will implement Tribal collaborative management and a community stakeholder advisory council to incorporate local voices in NOAA’s adaptive management. The late Chief Fred Collins of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council nominated this as the first Tribally nominated National Marine Sanctuary in the United States to permanently protect these waters and Chumash Cultural Heritage. Today, his daughter, Chair Violet Sage Walker of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council is finishing her father’s dream of the Chumash Sanctuary campaign and carrying on the Chumash legacy of stewardship.

International marine conservation non-profit Mission Blue has named the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (Chumash Sanctuary) a Hope Spot in support of the pending permanent federal designation that will safeguard the area's marine habitats indefinitely. Violet Sage Walker, Chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, and Andrew Christie, retired Chapter Director of the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter, are the Hope Spot Champions. They are being recognized for the 10 years of dedication to the Chumash Sanctuary campaign by them and their organizations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently in the designation process for the Chumash Sanctuary, with the official decision targeted for mid-2024. Mission Blue’s Hope Spot declaration highlights the importance of NOAA swiftly designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary this year.

Walker comments on the proposal, “We are excited to join Mission Blue with this Hope Spot to emphasize the importance of protecting our ocean right now. The goal is to achieve the biggest possible Chumash Sanctuary and establish collaborative management between all Central Coast Tribes and NOAA. Status as a National Marine Sanctuary would serve as the primary mechanism to protect our marine life and cultural sites for present and future generations.”

Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, says, "Protecting these submerged ancient villages from future industrial encroachment will ensure the resting places of their ancestors remain undisturbed. The cultural significance of Chumash heritage makes this National Marine Sanctuary the only one of its kind. Bravo to the Northern Chumash Tribal Council for leading this very important nomination as a National Marine Sanctuary and as a key part of the international network of Hope Spots."

If approved, the proposed Sanctuary would protect over 7,500 square miles of ocean, extending from Cambria to Gaviota Creek and creating a contiguous corridor of ocean protection that would link the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. However, the potential alternative map that NOAA recently proposed excludes about 2,000 square miles of ocean, including the sacred site of Lisamu’ (Morro Rock) in Morro Bay, CA. This potential exclusion is taking into account future wind energy transmission cables that will likely run through the sanctuary to connect to the grid. However, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Congressionals, and over 100,000 commenters are asking that offshore wind be collaborative with ocean protections, like the Chumash Sanctuary. 

“We want to set a precedent here on the Central Coast that renewable energy and marine conservation can and must work together as we face the climate crisis. Morro Rock is one of our sacred sites and a biodiversity hub, and we’re hoping to work with the offshore wind industry so Morro Bay is not left out of the Sanctuary,” Walker explains.

President Joe Biden first spoke of the proposed Sanctuary in a speech on May 31, 2023, with these words: "With input from Tribal partners, my Administration also began the designation process for multiple new national marine sanctuaries, including the Hudson Canyon in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Southern California."NOAA held a public comment period that ended October 2023 where they received more than 110,000 comments from the public, with over 99% in support of the sanctuary designation. Considering the timing of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Walker and Christie say it is urgent that NOAA designates the Chumash Sanctuary before this fall. The time is now.

Read more from Mission Blue's Chumash Sanctuary Hope Spot Announcement

The Chumash Sanctuary 2023 Final Comment Period Turnout:

There was record breaking support for the proposed Chumash Sanctuary in the final public comment period from August to October 2023. Thank you to the thousands of participants and partners who made this astounding turnout possible!

102,782 comments submitted to NOAA

99% of comments support Sanctuary designation

NCTC’s petition alone had over 10,000 signatures

All the supportive petitions combined had over 100,000 signatures

100s of Organizations, Tribes, Businesses & Coalitions commented

Including…

1000s of Central Coast residents

1000s of Californians

Voices from all 50 states & 15 Countries

The majority of comments joined the Northern Chumash Tribal Council in advocating for the biggest possible boundaries for the Chumash Sanctuary, with borders from Cambria to Gaviota extending over 7,500 square miles.


But it's not over yet... What's Next?

The next six months are essential to make sure the Chumash Sanctuary gets designated! We’re so close, but not over the finish line yet. Your engagement is so important in these final months.

It is urgent that the Chumash Sanctuary is designated before Fall 2024. NOAA’s target is to have designation decision made by mid-2024. But mid-2024 is ambitious and we MUST hold the Biden-Harris Administration to this deadline.

Right now, NOAA is reading and preparing responses to the Fall 2023 comments. Then, NOAA creates the final Chumash Sanctuary documents, informed by the comments. The documents are then reviewed, with an inter-agency review, a congressional review and review by the California Governor. Learn more about NOAA’s designation process.

How can you help?

Your voice still matters! Here’s how to make it count:

  1. Spread the Word: Invite your friends to sign up for our email list too
  2. Stay Tuned: Follow us on social media
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  5. Help Out: Donate to our work

Thank you for protecting Grandmother Ocean & our communities!

Photo of sea otter with hands clasped with navy blue and white text that reads "Thank you!"

PRESS RELEASE

San Luis Obispo, CaliforniaOver 100,000 comments were submitted in support of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (Chumash Sanctuary), according to an independent analysis of the publicly available comments submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 60-day comment period, which was the last public comment period in the Chumash Sanctuary designation process, ended on October 25th. It began in late August with the release of the Chumash Sanctuary’s Draft Management Plan, Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and Draft Proposed Rule. This comment period was specifically intended for NOAA to gather public input on the draft documents to inform the Chumash Sanctuary’s final designation documents. Final designation of the Chumash Sanctuary is expected in mid-2024.

“We saw an outpouring of support for the Chumash Sanctuary during this crucial moment,” said Violet Sage Walker, Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC) Chairwoman and the daughter of original sanctuary nominator Fred Collins. “This was the final chance for our communities to show up and say exactly what we want the sanctuary to look like. The overwhelming majority of commenters are joining us in saying, ‘We need the Chumash Sanctuary to protect the entire Central Coast from Cambria to Gaviota now!’”

NOAA received 102,782 comments during this final and defining public comment period, including letters of support signed by tens of thousands of individuals, and hundreds of organizations and businesses. More than 99% of the comments indicated support for the Chumash Sanctuary. All statistics are according to a public presentation from NOAA in January 2024.

Support came from individuals on a local to global level, with strong representation from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Comments of support were signed and submitted by thousands of Central Coast residents and Californians, Central Coast businesses, local elementary, highschool and college students, and many local environmental and community organizations, chapters, and programs.

“This campaign has been a textbook example of what can be done when a community steps up together,” said Andrew Christie, Director of the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It's also a validation of NOAA's decision a decade ago to revive the process for the designation of national marine sanctuaries and invite nominations from the public. The main requirement of that process was a demonstration of broad support. I'd say that requirement has been met."

Tribes and Indigenous organizations voiced their support during the comment period, including, but not limited to the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, Brotherhood of the Tomol, Northern Chumash Bear Clan, Chumash Barracuda Clan of the Gaviota Coast, the Maui Nui Makai Network, North Coast Native Protectors Tribal Marine Collaborative, Northern California Osage Committee, the Norton Bay Watershed Council, and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe.

Coalitions and joint letters were submitted from partners of many backgrounds. Sign-on letters were submitted in support of the Chumash Sanctuary designation with over 100,000 combined signees, including from The Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Audubon, Environment California and Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, OnlyOne, Sierra Club, and Surfrider Foundation. 115 organizations across the United States signed a joint letter of support coordinated by the America the Beautiful for All Coalition in addition to over 75 letters directly from local to global organizations. Official letters were submitted from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Hundreds of scientists wrote in support, including the UCSB Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, UCLA Center for Diverse Leadership in Science with 97 supportive signees from across California, a letter signed by 181 scientists, a letter from 16 academic researchers working in the Central Coast region, and over 20 individual letters from scientists and academics. The Aquarium Conservation Partnership submitted a joint letter of support from 13 US Zoos and Aquariums and the Monterey Bay Aquarium submitted an additional extensive letter of  support. Youth are also welcome to comment and they showed up in support, including a youth letter with 130 individual signees and 19 youth-led/youth-serving entities, a letter from 40 elementary school students, and letters from high school students. Religious leaders and organizations wrote in support as well, including from Hispanic Access Foundation’s Por La Creación Faith-Based Alliance, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Creation Justice Ministries’ letter with 43 faith leader signees, Central Coast Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), St. Barbara Parish at Old Mission Santa Barbara, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Goleta, San Luis Obispo and Riverside. Other coalition letters included Environment California’s Offshore Wind Now Coalition, the Central Coast Clean Cities Coalition, Conejo Climate Coalition, The Healthy Ocean Coalition, Oceano Beach Community Association, SLO Climate Coalition, and many more letters of support.

Federal, state, and local elected representatives, government officials, and governing bodies shared their strong support, including Secretary Wade Crowfoot (California Secretary for Natural Resources), Senator John Laird (Senate District 17), Assemblymember Dawn Addis (California 30th District), Supervisor Bruce Gibson (District 2 Supervisor, San Luis Obispo County), Supervisor Jimmy Paulding (District 4 Supervisor, San Luis Obispo County), Supervisor Das Williams (District 1 Supervisor and Chair, Santa Barbara County),  Supervisor Joan Hartmann (District 3 Supervisor, Santa Barbara County), Christina Hernandez (Guadalupe City Council Member), Jan Marx (San Luis Obispo City Council Member), The City of San Luis Obispo, Cayucos Citizens' Advisory Council, and The City of Santa Cruz.

We are now in the final phase of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary designation process. NOAA will review the comments to inform their preparation of the final designation documents. The California Governor and Congress will have an opportunity to review and comment on the documents before designation becomes effective. NOAA currently estimates that the designation decision will be made by mid-2024.

Under the initially nominated boundaries, the Chumash Sanctuary will protect upwards of 7,500 square miles of ocean and 156 miles of coastline from Cambria to Gaviota Creek and will bridge the gap between the existing Monterey Bay and Channel Islands sanctuaries to create hundreds of contiguous miles of protected ocean. However, this contiguity is at risk of being lost, with NOAA’s recently released Agency-Preferred boundary alternative cutting out over 2,000 square miles of ocean, notably excluding the area from Cambria to Hazard Canyon Reef (Los Osos area). If the final sanctuary boundary excludes the area between Cambria and Los Osos, it will become the only section of unprotected waters in over 19,000 square miles of ocean protection extending down the California coast. The vast majority of public comments submitted to NOAA advocated for the full 7,500 square mile sanctuary.

The sanctuary nomination was submitted to NOAA in 2015 by Fred Collins, the late Chairman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, with the support of a local coalition of environmental organizations. This was a milestone as the first Tribally nominated national marine sanctuary in the United States. The efforts to designate a sanctuary off of the Central Coast date back more than 40 years.

Visit chumashsanctuary.org to learn more about the campaign to designate the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary led by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council.

More information about NOAA’s designation process for the proposed Chumash Sanctuary is available at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/chumash-heritage/

NOAA seeks public comment on Chumash Heritage sanctuary draft proposal, which if designated would be nation's 16th national marine sanctuary

A view of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary near Montana de Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo County, California.  (Image credit: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)

Today, following input from tribal nations, state and federal agencies, Indigenous communities, and the public, NOAA released a proposal to designate a 5,617-square-mile area offshore of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties in central California as Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Since day one, President Biden has launched the most ambitious climate and conservation agenda in history. This designation would advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which is supporting locally led conservation efforts across the country with a goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. 

The agency’s proposed boundary for Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would stretch along 134 miles of coastline from Hazard Canyon Reef, south of Morro Bay, to an area just south of Dos Pueblos Canyon — the site of one of the largest historical Chumash villages along the Gaviota Coast.  This proposed designation is the first Indigenous-led nomination for a national marine sanctuary, reflecting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to honoring tribal nations, respecting Indigenous knowledge and advancing co-stewardship. 

“Since taking office, President Biden has launched the most ambitious climate and conservation agenda in history. As part of this historic commitment, the Biden-Harris Administration is advancing collaborative conservation and collaborative management, and prioritizing the input and insight of tribal leaders during the development of this sanctuary proposal,” said U.S Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “In addition to protecting critical ecological and cultural sites, this proposed sanctuary would advance President Biden’s commitment to conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. ocean waters by the end of the decade.”

Map of the area off the coast of San Luis Obispo County, California, that NOAA is proposing to designate as the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. (Image credit: NOAA)

Under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would protect the area’s marine life, ecosystems, archaeological sites, and cultural sites. Its unique features — including rocky intertidal zones, a submarine canyon, and upwellings of cold nutrient-rich seawater — are teeming with marine invertebrates, massive kelp forests, sea otters, harbor seals, whales, dolphins, important bird rookeries, and other marine life. Importantly, the proposed sanctuary sits between existing marine protected areas, creating ecological connectivity and protected corridors for fish and wildlife. It would be the first new sanctuary since 1994 that would be managed for biodiversity conservation as part of the National Marine Sanctuary System.

“Chumash National Marine Sanctuary embodies the values of President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, and his commitment to supporting locally-led protections for cultural and natural sites across the country,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “The ocean is facing some of the most severe impacts from climate change, and under the President’s leadership we are taking action to ensure our waters and the marine life that call them home are protected for generations to come.”

In July 2015, a broad coalition of community leaders, organizations and businesses, led by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, submitted a nominationoffsite link to NOAA for a Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. In 2020, during the five-year review of the nomination, then-Senator and now Vice President Kamala Harris joined her colleagues in the California congressional delegation in urging NOAA to move the proposal into the designation phase as soon as possible. NOAA began the process towards designation in 2021.

The proposed sanctuary management plan and regulations would guide community-based management and ecosystem-based management–including a framework for tribal and Indigenous collaborative management–  to balance marine conservation efforts with other uses, including renewable energy opportunities in nearby waters. The preferred boundary accommodates an area beyond the sanctuary where subsea electrical transmission cables from nearby development of offshore wind could be built, and includes a permit pathway to support additional cables within the proposed sanctuary. NOAA will continue to closely coordinate with  federal and state agencies to ensure that the sanctuary designation process aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration and State of California’s efforts to advance responsible offshore wind deployment. 

“The proposed sanctuary represents a momentous opportunity to involve, recognize, and celebrate Indigenous peoples’ values, knowledge, traditions, and modern day cultural connections to the area,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D, NOAA administrator. “It also advances the goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which recommends expanding the National Marine Sanctuary System, as well as supporting Indigenous- and locally led conservation.”

A detailed description of the proposed sanctuary, as well as additional information about opportunities to provide public comment, can be found on the website for the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

“The proposed sanctuary is rich in marine life and includes kelp forests, rocky shores, sandy beaches, a globally-significant ecological transition zone and important offshore features that have been important to Chumash and other Indigenous communities for more than 10,000 years,” said John Armor, director, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “The sanctuary would also enhance conservation of numerous rare and endangered species that depend on this area, including snowy plovers, black abalone, southern sea otters, blue whales and leatherback sea turtles.” 

The nomination was crafted based on an earlier proposal from the 1980s from state and local leaders for a sanctuary in this region. The new proposal envisioned coupling NOAA’s standard sanctuary management framework with Indigenous knowledge to expand opportunities for marine resource conservation, economic development, marine research, educational programming, and community engagement. 

As part of this designation proposal, NOAA proposes a framework for tribal and Indigenous collaborative management that would integrate tribal and Indigenous perspectives from the community into the stewardship of key areas and cultural priorities. Tribal and Indigenous community members would have opportunities to join in sanctuary decision-making processes and cultural programming through the sanctuary’s advisory council, working groups of the advisory council, a new Intergovernmental Policy Council, and joint project agreements. Input from local area tribes and Indigenous communities was integral to the development of the draft framework, and NOAA will continue to seek their ideas and assistance during the next steps of the designation process.

The public can comment on the sanctuary proposal through Oct. 25, 2023, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. The docket number is NOAA-NOS-2021-0080. In addition, NOAA will host two in-person and one virtual public comment meetings during which members of the public can offer oral comments. To facilitate public understanding of NOAA’s proposed action, NOAA will also host two in-person informational workshops and one virtual informational webinar approximately two weeks in advance of the public comment meetings. Detailed information on the dates, times, and locations for public meetings is available at: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/chumash-heritage/.

NOAA follows a well-established designation process for marine sanctuary proposals. After NOAA receives written and oral public comments, it will address and respond to those comments as it makes a determination if final designation of the proposed sanctuary is warranted and, if so, what NOAA program and management actions are necessary. A final action on designation is expected in the middle of 2024.

Originally posted by NOAA on August 24, 2023

Media contact

Vernon Smith, Vernon.Smith@noaa.gov, (240) 638-6447

24 de agosto de 2023

San Luis Obispo, CA – El viernes pasado, 25 de agosto, comenzó la última oportunidad para que el público opine sobre la propuesta de Santuario Marino Nacional del Patrimonio Chumash de la costa central de California. Durante los próximos 60 días, la Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica (NOAA )aceptará comentarios públicos sobre el borrador del plan de gestión del santuario propuesto y Declaración de Impacto Ambiental, la cual determinará los límites finales, actividades permitidas y reglamentos generales del santuario marino.

"Estamos entusiasmados de ver avanzar la designación del Santuario del Patrimonio Chumash", dijo la nominadora del santuario y Presidenta del Consejo Tribal Chumash del Norte Violet Sage Walker. “Sabemos la importancia de proteger este tramo vital del océano para nuestra vida marina, nuestra pesca y nuestro patrimonio cultural. Los santuarios fomentan la participación local en la gestión de los océanos, y este santuario asociará a las  comunidades indígenas con la NOAA. El conocimiento colectivo de los primeros pueblos de la costa central, así como de otras partes interesadas, científicos y formuladores de políticas locales, creará una base sólida para tener una costa próspera para las generaciones venideras”.

La publicación de los documentos preliminares por parte de la NOAA es un hito fundamental en la campaña local de una década para establecer la primera nominación de un Santuario Marino Nacional liderada por una tribu .Más de 30.000 personas, incluidos Residentes de la costa central, funcionarios electos, líderes de justicia tribal y ambiental , negocios de ámbito regional y organizaciones conservacionistas locales, expresaron su apoyo al santuario marino durante el Proceso de determinación del alcance de la designación inicial de la NOAA en enero de 2022. Gracias al congresista Carbajal y a todos los partidarios del Congreso por ser defensores de los esfuerzos del Santuario del Patrimonio Chumash.

“La Costa Central ha buscado esta designación de santuario durante décadas, y mientras nuestros océanos y nuestras comunidades enfrentan desafíos sin precedentes debido a un entorno marino cambiante, este borrador llega en un momento crítico para nuestra región. Me alegro de que finalmente tengamos un borrador que ponga a nuestro alcance la aprobación final de este santuario”, dijo el Representante Carbajal en comunicado de prensa.

La nominación original al Santuario Marino Nacional del Patrimonio Chumash  propuso cubrir más de 7,000 millas cuadradas de océano, abarcando 156 millas de costa entre Cambria en el condado de San Luis Obispo y Gaviota Creek en el condado de Santa Bárbara. Mantener estos límites es vital para los recursos culturales y ecológicos. La región norte alberga el sitio sagrado Chumash Lisamu’, conocido como Morro Rock, la nutria marina del sur en peligro de extinción y muchos más ecosistemas clave.

“Este santuario cuenta con el apoyo de los gobiernos federal y estatal, pero más importantemente de las comunidades que han vivido en sus costas durante miles de años. Combinar el conocimiento ecológico tradicional con nuevos datos de la ciencia occidental es un viaje que enriquece nuestra visión del océano y de nosotros mismos”, dijo el Dr. Steve Palumbi de la Estación Marina Stanford Hopkins. El Dr. Palumbi se encuentra actualmente colaborando con el Consejo Tribal Chumash del Norte para combinar la ciencia indígena y occidental en las aguas propuestas del Santuario del Patrimonio Chumash.

Las aguas de la Costa Central incluyen características submarinas de importancia mundial, importantes hábitats para la vida silvestre y sitios Chumash sumergidos que datan de hace más de 9.000 años. El santuario marino propuesto abarca la vertiente occidental del banco submarino de Santa Lucía en la base de la plataforma continental, un cañón submarino de 3.000 metros de profundidad, tres importantes afloramientos de nutrientes, áreas de desove y colonias, y áreas de alimentación y rutas de migración para 13 especies. de ballenas y delfines.

Se ha estimado que un santuario marino nacional frente a la costa central generará al menos $23 millones en actividad económica y 600 nuevos empleos. También implementará un Consejo Asesor del Santuario para que las partes interesadas locales puedan asesorar directamente a los líderes del santuario sobre la gestión y más allá.

Joel R. Johnson, presidente y director ejecutivo de la Fundación Santuario Marino Nacional, dijo: "La designación del Santuario Marino Nacional del Patrimonio Chumash es un momento de transformación para nuestras aguas costeras de California y todos los administradores de nuestro océano compartido. Esta nominación liderada por indígenas promueve la justicia y la equidad oceánica al proteger las aguas ancestrales y brindar a todos la oportunidad de aprender de "el conocimiento tradicional de las tribus de la costa central y las formas de administrar los recursos marinos culturales y biodiversos. Las personas también se beneficiarán de muchas maneras, el santuario propuesto también es un vivero para especies de peces de las que dependemos comercialmente. Aplaudimos a la NOAA y a la Administración por promover este santuario. nominación y alentamos la designación final de estas magníficas aguas ancestrales".

A partir de 2013, el Consejo Tribal Chumash del Norte, anteriormente dirigido por el presidente Fred Collins, trabajó con activistas ambientales locales para preparar una nominación para el santuario. La nominación final se presentó en 2015 y se renovó en 2020. En noviembre de 2021, la NOAA anunció que la nominación sería considerada para la designación, apenas un mes después del fallecimiento de Collins. Su hija, la presidenta Violet Sage Walker, que trabajó estrechamente con su padre en el esfuerzo de nominación, ahora dirige el Consejo Tribal y la campaña del santuario.

"Este es el momento decisivo en la historia de esta campaña, que culmina un gran esfuerzo realizado por muchas personas durante muchos años", afirmó Andrew Christie, director del Capítulo Santa Lucía del Sierra Club. “Nos complace que el santuario marino sea una prioridad para la Administración Biden y sea parte del compromiso federal de proteger y conservar al menos el 30% de nuestras tierras, agua dulce y océanos para 2030”.

Los comentarios de este período final de comentarios públicos definitorios informarán el plan de gestión del Santuario Marino Nacional Chumash Heritage. Cada santuario se crea de manera única para satisfacer las necesidades de la región, por lo que la participación local es vital en esta última fase. Sin embargo, todas las voces, desde locales hasta globales, son bienvenidas a comentar; todos somos partes interesadas de nuestro océano.

En las próximas semanas, el sitio web de la campaña, ChumashSanctuary.org, tendrá actualizaciones sobre la posición del Consejo Tribal Chumash del Norte sobre el borrador del plan de gestión y sugerirá puntos de conversación. Para recibir actualizaciones y orientación sobre la campaña, por favor Regístrese para recibir actualizaciones por correo electrónico en ChumashSanctuary.org.

Los borradores de documentos fueron publicados oficialmente por la NOAA el viernes 25 de agosto de 2023. El período de comentarios de 60 días está programado para cerrar el 25 de octubre de 2023. Puede enviar sus comentarios a la NOAA a través del Registro Federal, comentar en una audiencia de la NOAA o enviarlos por correo a:

Paul Michel

NOAA Sanctuaries West Coast Regional Office

99 Pacific Street, Building 100F, Monterey, CA 93940

Información sobre cómo enviar un comentario: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/chumash-heritage

San Luis Obispo, CA – Tomorrow begins the final opportunity for the public to weigh in on the California Central Coast’s proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. For the next 60 days, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will accept public comments on the proposed sanctuary's draft management plan and Environmental Impact Statement, which will determine the final boundaries, permitted activities, and general regulations of the marine sanctuary.

“We are excited to see the designation of the Chumash Heritage Sanctuary moving forward,” said sanctuary Nominator and Northern Chumash Tribal Council Chairwoman Violet Sage Walker. “We know the importance of protecting this vital stretch of ocean, for our marine life, our fishing and our cultural heritage. Sanctuaries uplift local participation in ocean management, and this sanctuary will put Indigenous communities in partnership with NOAA. The collective knowledge of the Central Coast’s First Peoples, as well as other local stakeholders, scientists, and policymakers, will create a strong foundation to have a thriving coast for generations to come.”

NOAA’s release of the draft documents is a critical milestone in the decade-long local campaign to establish the first Tribal led-nomination of a National Marine Sanctuary. More than 30,000 people, including Central Coast residents, elected officials, Tribal and environmental justice leaders, regional businesses, and local conservation organizations, expressed support for the marine sanctuary during NOAA’s initial designation scoping process in January 2022. Thank you to Congressman Carbajal and all the congressional supporters for being champions of the Chumash Heritage Sanctuary efforts.

“The Central Coast has pursued this sanctuary designation for decades, and as our oceans and our communities are facing unprecedented challenges from a changing marine environment, this draft comes at a critical time for our region. I am glad that we finally have a draft that puts this sanctuary’s final approval within reach,” said Rep. Carbajal in today’s press release.

The original Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary nomination was proposed to cover more than 7,000 square miles of ocean, spanning 156 miles of coastline between Cambria in San Luis Obispo County and Gaviota Creek in Santa Barbara County. Maintaining these boundaries is vital for cultural and ecological resources. The northern region is home to the sacred Chumash site Lisamu’, known as Morro Rock, the endangered southern sea otter and many more key ecosystems. 

“This sanctuary has support from the federal and state governments, but most importantly from the communities that have lived on its shores for thousands of years. Combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with new data from western science is a journey that enriches our view of the ocean and ourselves,” said Dr. Steve Palumbi from Stanford Hopkins Marine Station. Dr. Palumbi is currently collaborating with the Northern Chumash Tribal Council to combine Indigenous and western science in the proposed Chumash Heritage Sanctuary waters.

The Central Coast’s waters include globally significant undersea features, important wildlife habitat, and submerged Chumash sites dating back more than 9,000 years. The proposed marine sanctuary encompasses the western slope of the underwater Santa Lucia Bank at the base of the continental shelf, a 3,000-meter-deep submarine canyon, three major nutrient upwellings, spawning areas and rookeries, and feeding areas and migration lanes for 13 species of whales and dolphins.

It has been estimated that a national marine sanctuary off the Central Coast will generate at least $23 million in economic activity and 600 new jobs. It will also implement a Sanctuary Advisory Council so local stakeholders can directly advise sanctuary leadership on management and beyond.

Joel R. Johnson, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, said, "Designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is a transformational moment for our coastal California waters and all stewards of our shared ocean. This Indigenous-led nomination advances ocean justice and equity by protecting ancestral waters and giving everyone the opportunity to learn from the Central Coast Tribes’ traditional knowledge and ways of stewarding cultural and biodiverse marine resources. People will benefit in many ways too, the proposed sanctuary is also a nursery for fish species we rely on commercially. We applaud NOAA and the Administration for advancing this sanctuary nomination and we encourage final designation of these magnificent ancestral waters."

Starting in 2013, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, formerly led by Chairman Fred Collins, worked with local environmental activists to prepare a sanctuary nomination. The final nomination was submitted in 2015 and renewed in 2020. In November 2021, NOAA announced that the nomination would be considered for designation, just a month after Collins passed away. His daughter, Chairwoman Violet Sage Walker, who worked closely with her father on the nomination effort, now leads the Tribal Council and the sanctuary campaign.

“This is the defining moment in the history of this campaign, capping a lot of effort by a lot of people over many years,” said Andrew Christie, Director of the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We are pleased that the marine sanctuary is a priority for the Biden Administration and is part of the federal commitment to protect and conserve at least 30% of our lands, freshwater and ocean by 2030.”

Comments from this final, defining public comment period will inform the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary’s management plan. Every sanctuary is uniquely created to meet the region’s needs, so local participation is vital in this last phase. However, all voices from local to global are welcome to comment; everyone is a stakeholder of our ocean. 

In the coming weeks, the campaign website, ChumashSanctuary.org, will have updates on the Northern Chumash Tribal Council’s position on the draft management plan and suggested talking points. To receive campaign updates and guidance, please sign up for email updates at ChumashSanctuary.org.

The draft documents will be officially published by NOAA tomorrow, August 25th, 2023. The 60-day comment period is scheduled to close on October 25, 2023. You may submit your comments to NOAA via the Federal Register, comment in a NOAA hearing, or mail them to:

Paul Michel

NOAA Sanctuaries West Coast Regional Office

99 Pacific Street, Building 100F, Monterey, CA 93940

Information on how to submit a comment: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/chumash-heritage

Artist John Khus, right, and his assistants finish a mural on the heritage of the Chumash tribe on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, at the Post Office on Bridge Street in Cambria. KATHE TANNER ktanner@thetribunenews.com

A dramatic new mural depicting Chumash tribal history and the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is brightening up a corner of San Luis Obispo County.

The vivid artwork by Chumash artist John Khus covers a large outdoor wall on the U.S. Postal Service building at 4100 Bridge St., in Cambria, near Center Street.

The mural, titled “Tomol Rides Wishtoyo,” shows images including the Milky Way and a Chumash elder in a traditional canoe known as a tomol watching human spirits pass over the rainbow bridge to join their ancestors.

Khus and his older brother and Bear Clan elder Michael Khus-Zarate were on hand when the mural was formally unveiled on Friday.

Also there were Northern Chumash Tribal Council chair Violet Sage Walker, former Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council chair Margaret “P.J.” Webb and Beautify Cambria Association founder Claudia Harmon Worthen.

The event featured a tribal ceremony, music and blessing, plus welcomes by various governmental representatives and postal officials and refreshments.

The Chumash council and the Beautify Cambria group collaborated on the mural project as a way to recognize SLO County’s First Peoples and emphasize the importance of protecting the area’s oceans and marine habitats.

The Chumash have lived along the Central California coast and Channel Islands for millennia, at one time occupying a territory from Malibu to Cambria to the west edge of the San Joaquin Valley.

Beautify Cambria’s name encompasses its mission — cleaning up the small coastal town and enhancing its appearance.

The group has added plants to Main Street medians, replaced trash receptacles with flower-topped wooden ones, spruced up a hillside near a major intersection and advocated for the reduction of light pollution as part of the dark sky movement.

The U.S. Postal Service office approved the mural and prepared the outer wall of the leased building by removing ivy, cleaning, repairing and painting.

Other supporters of the project include San Luis Obispo County officials, the North Coast Advisory Council and U.S. House of Representatives members Salud Carbajal and Jimmy Panetta.

While the mural has been under wraps since it was completed Sunday, some folks got a sneak peek over the weekend as Khus, Sage Walker, commercial artist Scott Kam and some volunteers put the finishing touches the artwork.

Cambria volunteers work in July 2023 to complete a mural on a wall of Re-Create Thrift Shop in Cambria. Courtesy photo

OTHER CAMBRIA MURALS

Cambria has other murals, including one finished in December that’s kitty-corner across the street from “Tomol Rides Wishtoyo” on the Bridge Street wall of Bob & Jan’s Bottle Shop.

The mural, which depicts the migration of monarch butterflies, was created by the owners of the Canned Pineapple design firm in San Luis Obispo, Christopher “Buddy” Norton and Shelby Lowe.

It was the first of three local murals commissioned by Visit SLO CAL, the nonprofit destination marketing and management organization for San Luis Obispo County. Others are located in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande.

Volunteers recently created a colorful floral mural on a long wall of Re-Create Thrift Store, 1601 Main St. in Cambria.

A community-created mural shepherded by the Cambria Center for the Arts adorns the side wall of a building at 555 Main St. in Cambria that houses the Once Upon a Tyme clock and doll shop and the Cuttrazzola Vineyards tasting room.

Fish-eating sea anemone live on the rocky reef off Point Estero, where NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and partners are listening to underwater sound inside the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Robert Schwemmer NOAA

CHUMASH HERITAGE MARINE SANCTUARY PROPOSED

In 2015, the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary was nominated by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council for designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If approved, the sanctuary, which is the nation’s first tribally led nomination, would preserve marine and cultural resources in 7,000 square miles of the sea along 156 miles of the Central California coastline.

Waters to the north and south are protected by the Channel Islands sanctuary and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which ends at a midpoint of Cambria’s shore.

NOAA officials expect to release the draft designation documents within the next few months. The effort is getting national attention.

After the draft documents are released, NOAA will open a public comment period to allow community members to voice their opinions about the proposed sanctuary.

This story was originally published August 18, 2023, 5:00 AM in The Cambrian and was written by Kathe Tanner.

Morro Rock, a volcanic plug on California's Central Coast, could be included in the proposed marine sanctuary. Robert Schwemmer / NOAA

Travelers flock to California’s Central Coast to kayak, camp, surf, fish, walk on the beach and otherwise take advantage of the area’s rugged natural beauty. But, since time immemorial, the Chumash people have called this region home. The Central Coast encompasses numerous sacred sites, where the Chumash still go to hold ceremonies and pray.

Now, the Chumash are advocating for their ancestral lands and waters to be protected from development. They’re asking the federal government to designate a 7,000-square-mile swath of the Pacific Ocean as a national marine sanctuary.

They also want to work hand-in-hand with the government to manage the site. If they achieve those goals and the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary comes to fruition, it would be the first nominated and co-managed by an Indigenous group on the U.S. mainland. It would also be the largest national marine sanctuary in the continental U.S., reports NPR’s Lauren Sommers.

“The sanctuary is a reflection of who we are, our people and this land,” says Violet Sage Walker, chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, to the Guardian’s Lucy Sherriff.

As proposed, the marine sanctuary would encompass 7,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.  NOAA

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council nominated the region for the marine sanctuary designation in July 2015. Since then, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been considering the site, which spans 156 miles of coastline in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

In addition to recognizing Chumash heritage and history, the sanctuary would also protect an “internationally-significant ecological transition zone” that’s home to a wide variety of wildlife, including many at-risk species, such as snowy plovers, southern sea otters, leatherback sea turtles, black abalone and blue whales, per NOAA.

The federal agency could release its final proposal for the sanctuary later this month. From there, NOAA would solicit feedback from members of the public, as well as industry that could be affected by the designation.

If all goes as planned, the sanctuary could be officially designated as early as next year. That would likely mean that oil and wind power companies could not initiate new projects within the site, but that commercial fisheries would be able to continue their work, though the exact rules and regulations are still up in the air.

If approved, the sanctuary would be massive—about six times the size of Yosemite National Park. That will make managing the site very challenging, as Stephen Palumbi, a marine scientist at Stanford University, tells the Guardian. But the Chumash are up for the challenge. Already, they’re working with researchers to establish a baseline for the ecosystem’s health, which they plan to monitor regularly moving forward, per NPR.

NOAA, for its part, seems eager to collaborate with the Chumash on the site. More broadly, the Biden administration has also tried to incorporate more Native American involvement into public land management, such as at Bears Ears National Monument, which is co-managed by five tribes. President Joe Biden also appointed the nation’s first Native American cabinet secretary when he named Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, Secretary of the Interior. And the administration has also supported the return of ancestral homelands to tribes, including the 465 acres in eastern Virginia that were returned to the Rappahannock people in the spring of 2022.

Still, the 14 existing national marine sanctuaries, plus the Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments, had “very little, if any, tribal management at the time of designation,” says William Douros, West Coast director of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, to NPR.

"We're kind of excited about what [tribal co-management] could offer in terms of a real diverse array of tribal involvement, reflecting the diversity of tribes that we have here along the Central Coast," he adds.

Sea otters are just one of the at-risk species that live within the bounds of the proposed marine sanctuary, along with blue whales, snowy plovers and others. Robert Schwemmer / NOAA

Before European settlers began arriving in the 18th century, an estimated 20,000 Chumash lived throughout Central California. But, like many other Indigenous groups, they suffered greatly because of colonization. Because of disease, forced laborbroken promises by the Mexican government and, later, California state-sponsored genocide and persecution, their numbers dwindled. Today, some 10,200 people claim some amount of Chumash ancestry, per the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Chumash are making strides to restore their heritage and reconnect with the coast. They hold ceremonies involving traditional plank canoes called tomol, and they have pushed back against proposed developments that would encroach on their sacred sites. This week, they also unveiled a large and colorful new mural that shows Chumash tribal history, as well as the proposed marine sanctuary, on the side of a U.S. Postal Service building in downtown Cambria, a small seaside village along the Central Coast.

The proposed national marine sanctuary designation and co-management plan are extensions of those efforts. If approved, the destination would give the Chumash people “access to the whole picture of what we’re about,” as Reggie Pagaling, a tribal elder with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash, tells the Washington Post’s Silvia Foster-Frau.

“Not just the land but the water itself, the ocean itself, the creatures above and below the water,” he adds. “Having that opportunity to regain that and to take steps to revitalize that whole maritime caretaking and participation is invaluable.”

Originally posted by Smithsonian Magazine on August 18th, 2023 and written by Sarah Kuta

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