Island Cultures: The Chumash of California

Potato Harbor Santa Cruz Island

Island Cultures: The Chumash of California 

June 7–13, 2020 

Explore California’s Santa Cruz Island and Central Coast, a global biodiversity hot spot and home to the Chumash people. These areas were also home to some of the earliest peoples in the Americas. This all-encompassing journey offers a combined focus on the archaeology, traditions, and cultural landscapes of the coastal peoples of California. Scholars from the Chumash tribe and California State University Channel Islands provide exclusive insights into Chumash history and cultural revitalization efforts.


  • Visit Vandenberg Air Force Base, where, by special access, you will observe rock art and shell midden sites while taking in the coastal landscapes and seascapes of the Chumash.
  • Take a boat ride to and from Santa Cruz Island, the largest of California’s Channel Islands -- a global biodiversity hot spot and home to whales and dolphins.
  • Learn how Chumash people continue to thrive in the modern world while holding on to their deep connections to traditional culture, language, and lands.

Island Cultures: The Chumash of California

  1. Scholars
  2. Accommodations
  3. Is This Trip for You?
  4. Terms & Policies
Matthew Vestuto, Ventureño Chumash. Matthew is a Consultant for Language-Cultural Revitalization and Resource Monitoring. He is also the director of the Tšumaš Transcription Project and language program coordinator for the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians. Matthew transcribed the handwritten ethnolinguistic notes of John Peabody Harrington, focusing mostly on Ventureño Chumash, but also assisting other neighboring tribes. Matthew also has completed two commissioned films and is a graduate of The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA) where he focused on Language Revitalization, Linguistics, and Media.

Jennifer E. Perry Ph. D., is an anthropologist at the California State University, Channel Islands. Jennifer was awarded her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to joining the CSU Channel Islands, she taught at Pomona College for 10 years. Some of Dr. Perry’s specializations are in coastal societies, hunter-gatherer societies, and Native American societies. Dr. Perry teaches Human Ecology, The Seacoast Through Time, Native Californians, and Altered States of Consciousness and has collaborated with Channel Islands National Park for eighteen years.
Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara is located just a few minutes from Santa Barbara’s downtown and conveniently situated across from one of Southern California’s most beautiful beaches.

Sure Stay Plus Hotel by Best Western offers comfortable accommodations in Santa Barbara’s wine country and is conveniently located near historic missions, cultural sites, and wineries.

One night is spent at the UC Field Station on Santa Cruz Island. Established in 1966, the Santa Cruz Island Reserve provides access and facilities for academic studies of the northern Channel Islands, with special emphasis on Santa Cruz Island. Accommodations consist of 25 bunkbeds and six private bedrooms with double/queen beds. All visitors must sleep at the facility. We’ll need to plan on bringing warm sleeping bags and pillows. Hot and cold running water, 2 shared but separate men's and women's showers, toilets, and limited laundry facilities are available. Electricity is limited.

This is a moderate program with no hikes over 3 miles; the short hikes traverse uneven ground and include some off-trail hiking. There will be a boat ride of approximately 2 hours. The boats are large (65 feet long), but there can be significant rocking if the ocean is rough.


The trip takes place mostly around sea level, with a maximum elevation of 2000 feet. We recommend ramping up your exercise regime prior to arrival. If you have any questions, please contact your physician.

Remote Facilities

Facilities and amenities will be available for the majority of the trip. Anticipate van rides of up to two hours on some bumpy roads, with planned restroom stops along the way. You will be visiting some rural areas where the facilities may be limited; however, effort will be made to keep the trip as comfortable as possible.

Cultural Sensitivity

We will traverse a sacred landscape—the ancestral homeland of descendant communities. Please know that we practice “visiting with respect” with each and every family, regardless of their provided amenities. Guidelines will be provided to help you prepare for this journey. Alcohol is strictly prohibited on tribal lands.

Archaeological Ethics

It is a violation of the Society for American Archaeology code of ethics for program participants to keep any artifacts or other cultural or paleontological remains from any archaeological site. It is against the law for participants to keep any such materials collected from state or federal land. It is our hope that you become site stewards and help us preserve our national heritage for future generations.
For further information on the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Terms, Conditions, and Cancellation Policies please click here. You will find details on tuition, cancellations, travel insurance, accommodations, medical information, and more.