The Chumash Science Through Time Project celebrates Indigenous knowledge as specialized, complex, and necessary for everyone’s survival.
This project began when Margie & Joe decided to start a cultural center in Guadalupe, California to honor their community’s multi-cultural heritage. They always intended for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center to bring to bring light to the truth about our history, particularly what Grandpa Joe calls the “intelligence of the people” or the sophistication of our Indigenous societies before colonization.
Shortly after opening the Cultural Center, a paleontologist working as a surveyor had a hunch that a tree carving in the Santa Lucia Mountains of San Luis Obispo was the work of Chumash people. He approached our grandfather and Chumash elder, Joe Talaugon, to begin an investigation of the tree carving, or arborglyph. This figure was previously known as the “scorpion tree,” thought to have been carved by cowboys, but Rex St. Onge, the surveyor/paleontologist, conducted extensive research that found that the not only was this figure the creation of Indigenous people, but a sophisticated map of the stars, used as a calendar that helped Chumash people know when to carryout harvests, ceremonies, and other activities that have been disrupted by colonization.
The Arborglyph Project catalyzed the Cultural Center’s role in demonstrating the importance of Indigenous knowledge in our people’s ability to thrive in California for thousands of years. We are now drawing on this Arborglyph work to recognize the value of Indigenous knowledge among inquisitive minds of all types.
The stars are something that all Indigenous people use, whether to navigate land or water, tell time, keep a calendar, or understand weather patterns. Under the umbrella of the stars, we hope to bring other Indigenous voices to this site to discuss their science and technologies. Please contact us if you are interested in submitting an article or other media that celebrates your Indigenous science.