The Importance of Small-Sized Fishes in Chumash Subsistence

JOHNSON, John R. - Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

In 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo bestowed the name "Pueblo de las Sardinas" on the large coastal town of Syuxtun on the Santa Barbara waterfront, signifying that clupeids were a major component of the catch of Chumash fishermen.  This inference is supported by the large quantities of clupeid vertebrae present in both coastal and inland archaeological assemblages during the Late Period.  The recognition that small-sized fishes supplied a major source of protein in the Chumash diet has implications for our understanding of other aspects of native economy. Considerable labor must have been expended to gather plant fibers, make cordage, and manufacture nets used to capture sardines and other small species.