Our Chumash Life pages for teachers and students provide a basic introduction to some aspects of traditional daily life. Our anthropologists answer questions about cultural anthropology, the history of Native Californians, ethnobotany, Native art, traditional tools, and technology.

Chumash Hunter-Gatherers

On the Natural History's Chumash page, I read the Chumash people were hunter-gathers. Did they hunt large animals like bears and mountain lions?

Katelyn, Santa Barbara - May 22, 2021

Curator Response

Hi Katelyn,

With regard to hunting large game, we do have a few artifacts manufactured from grizzly bear long bones that are housed at the Museum. There is no ethnographic information regarding hunting these animals, but there are historic records of Chumash men being attacked and sometimes killed by bears. It is difficult to say whether the few grizzly bone artifacts indicate hunting. Perhaps it would be more likely that they were scavenged from carcasses of animals who had died from natural causes.

I have never seen mountain lion bones reported from archaeological sites. So I doubt that those large cats were hunted.

In the interior Chumash region, we have found evidence for hunting elk. Those would represent the largest land mammals known to be sought by Chumash hunters.

Stay curious,

Curator of Anthropology John R. Johnson, Ph.D.