Some anthropologists argue the word 'Malibu' is a combination of Native American words mali + wu, which mean “where the mountains meet the sea” and the Chumash composite word Humaliwo, which means "the surf sounds loudly."
Source: Applegate, Richard B. "Chumash Placenames." The Journal of California Anthropology, 1(2), 1974.
At one time, Chumash territory encompassed 7,000 square miles that spanned from the beaches of Malibu to Paso Robles. The tribe also inhabited inland to the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley.
Utilizing resources from both the land and the sea, we called ourselves “the first people,” and pointed to the Pacific Ocean as our first home. These early Chumash ancestors were hunters, gatherers, and fishermen who lived in large, dome-shaped homes that were made of willow branches.
As the Chumash culture advanced with boat-making, basketry, stone cookware, and the ability to harvest and store food, the villages became more permanent. The Chumash society became tiered and ranged from manual laborers to the skilled crafters, chiefs, and shaman priests who were also accomplished astronomers. Women could serve equally as chiefs and priests.
In the rolling hills of the coastline, our Chumash ancestors found caves to use for sacred religious ceremonies. The earliest Chumash Indians used charcoal for their drawings, but as the culture evolved, so did the cave markings — using, red, orange, and yellow pigments. These vibrant paintings included human figures, animal life, and astronomy. Many of the caves still exist today, protected by the National Parks system, and illustrate the spiritual bond the Chumash hold with our environment.
As with most Native American tribes, the Chumash history was passed down from generation to generation through stories and legends. Many of these stories were lost when the Chumash Indian population faced the turmoil to come.
While their population was decimated by infectious diseases introduced by Spanish soliders and missionaries, the Chumash people remain committed to the preservation of their culture, to community health and education, and to the responsible stewardship of their ancestral lands.
Annual Tomol Crossing:
Chumash Indian Museum:
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park:
Malibu City Annual Chumash Day: Native American Powwow and Intertribal Gathering:
Our Mother Tongues
Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, Chumash Life:
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians:
Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation: