Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Chumash, an indigenous people of California, in Santa Barbara.[3] Their name for themselves is Samala.[4]

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians
Total population
154 enrolled members[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( California)
English,[2] historically Ineseño
Related ethnic groups
other Chumash people


The Santa Ynez Band is headquartered in Santa Ynez, California. They are governed by a democratically elected, five-member tribal council. Their current tribal administration is as follows:

  • Chairman: Kenneth Kahn
  • Vice Chairman: Raul Armenta
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Maxine Littlejohn
  • Business Committee Member: Gary Pace
  • Business Committee Member: Mike Lopez.[5]


The Santa Ynez Indian Reservation (34°36′10″N 120°05′29″W) is the only Chumash reservation.[2] It was 127-acres large and was established on 27 December 1901.[3] Beginning in 1979, the tribe established a housing program and began improving the infrastructure on the reservation.[6]

Samala Chumash language

The last native speaker of the Samala Chumash language, also called Ineseño, died in 1965. As of 2010, there has been a renaissance of Chumash pride and identity, including efforts to revive Samala and other Chumash languages.

In the early 1900s linguist/ethnographer John P. Harrington worked with Maria Solares, one of the last fluent speakers of Samala. He created manuscripts containing information on Chumash language, culture, and traditions. Dr. Richard Applegate, who received a Ph.D. in linguistics from U.C. Berkeley, used these manuscripts to write an extensive grammar of Samala and compile a dictionary of the language, which was released in 2008.[7] Dr. Applegate and Nakia Zavalla, the Cultural Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash and a direct descendant of Maria Solares, have begun an effort to revitalize the language. Applegate began teaching Samala in 2003, and Zavalla has spearheaded an immersion-based language apprentice program.[8] As of 2008, Applegate had five language apprentices; however, none had yet reached full fluency.[9]

An online Samala Chumash tutorial is available.[10]

Economic development

The Santa Ynez Band owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, as well as the Chumash Cafe, the Creekside Buffet, The Willows restaurant, and Root 246,[11] (the third largest employer in Solvang, 105[12][13]) all in Santa Ynez, California.


  1. "Our Tribal Community." Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Retrieved 6 June 2012
  2. "Chumash Indians." SDSU: California Indians and Their Reservations. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  3. Pritzker 122
  4. "Maria Solares." The Chumash Languages. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  5. "Business Committee." Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  6. "Santa Ynez Reservation." Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. 2012. 6 June 2012.
  7. Chawkins, Steve (20 April 2008). "Chumash recover their 'alishtaha'n: Armed with a trove of scattered notes, linguist saves ancestral tongue from brink of extinction". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  8. "Bringing Back the Samala Chumash Language". Channel Islands National Park. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  9. "Chumash Dictionary Breathes Life into Moribund Language The Santa Barbara Independent". Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  10. "Inezeño Chumash Language Tutorial". Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  12. City of Solvang CAFR
  13. FY 2008-2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) (PDF)


  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1

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