Kick off the month with the 23rd Annual Chumash Day Powwow and Intertribal Gathering at Malibu Bluffs Park hosted by the City of Malibu on April 1 and 2. Malibu’s largest annual special event honors and celebrates the area’s original residents and First Americans, the Chumash, and attracts thousands of visitors to the area for the weekend festivities. After a 2-year pandemic hiatus, the gathering is returning to its full schedule, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with the grand entry beginning at noon when the ceremonies and dancing commence.
It is estimated that the Chumash people have inhabited the Malibu coastline for the past 15,000 years and originally called the area Humawilo, which means “where the surf sounds loudly.” Today, the landscape and culture have radically transformed, making this event an incredible opportunity to learn about the rich history of what has been considered one of the most unique maritime cultures on the continent.
“It is an opportunity for the community to actually interact with tribal people. We’re not gone, we are still here, and we are still a very large part of American culture,” says Chumash Elder and Spiritual Advisor Alan Spirit Hawk Salazar.
The days will be filled with Native American cultural elements of ceremony, dancing, singing and storytelling.
“It is such a treasure to have Chumash culture in our own backyard, and this event is a perfect opportunity for the community to come learn and honor the history of the Chumash as well as the present-day Chumash people and culture,” comments City of Malibu’s Recreation Manager Kate Gallo. In addition to the Chumash gathering over the weekend, all Native American tribes are welcome and there will be representation from many other tribes from the greater Southern California area as well as from across North America, including the Aztecs.
Representing the Chumash people in leadership roles at the Powwow are Head Man Aaron Martin and Head Woman Emily Sierra supported by Head Young Man Gabriel Razo and Head Young Woman Aislynn Arnold. Randy Pico will be the announcer for the entire event and Vic Chavez will be the Arena Director.
Guests are invited to experience the powerful display of intertribal dancing in the main arena and shop an array of genuine handcrafted products—handmade flutes, pottery, jewelry, sun catchers and more—made by authentic Native American artisans. More than 20 vendors and several local nonprofits, including the Chumash Museum of Thousand Oaks and the Department of Native American Services from the LA County Library, will be onsite, as well as great food vendors serving up delectable fare.
“There has been a major revitalization of Native American culture in the past 10 years, from language revitalization to the arts to dance to storytelling, especially here in Chumash territory,” says Salazar, who has been involved in tribal causes his entire life and will be sharing stories, prayers and blessings throughout the weekend and invites those interested in becoming the next generation of native knowledge keepers to come, learn and take part.
“It is a spiritual weekend… the force of the drums, the power of the singers’ voices and the incredible moment when all the tribes dance together and their feet all hit the ground at the exact same time on the final beat. We are very lucky in Southern California to have such a large native population.”
Bring the whole family to experience this opportunity to celebrate Native American culture and discover what there is to learn from a people who deeply understand the relationship between nature, humankind and the human spirit.
Parking is available at 23575 Civic Center Way (at the corner of Webb Way and Civic Center Way). Guests can hop aboard the free shuttle to Malibu Bluffs Park to enjoy this free and educational celebration of culture and the long history of Humawilo, this land we all call home.
For more information, visit MalibuCity.org/Chumash-Day or call 310.317.1364.