The craft of building Chumash canoes was nearly lost. Alan Salazar is helping to keep it alive, one tomol at a time.
The Chumash have been a maritime culture for thousands of years, with their territory stretching from Malibu to Morro Bay and westward to the sandstone cliffs of the Channel Islands, over 20 miles off the coast of California. To navigate the treacherous currents of the channel for fishing and trading, they built the strong plank canoe tomols for which they are famous. But over centuries of European colonization, which included forced assimilation and enslavement of Chumash people, the craft of tomol building was nearly lost. Today, Alan Salazar works alongside his Chumash and Fernandeño Tataviam communities to pass their knowledge to the next generation of tomol builders and paddlers.
Read “Home to Limuw” to learn more about Alan’s craft and journey.