For more than 11,000 years, indigenous peoples have lived along the central coast of California, including in the area now known as Cambria. The Chumash lived along that California coast from what is now known as Malibu in the south to Morro Bay and Cambria in the north, as well as three of the Channel Islands (Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel). Chumash means “bead maker” or “seashell people.” They thrived on the bounties provided by both ocean and land.
The Chumash were known for their basket weaving and bead making as well as their skills as herbalists. They used local herbs and plants to create teas and medicinal remedies. They also created rock art and the “scorpion tree,” which was culturally significant to the Chumash in their celestial observations and as part of their calendar. The shamans participated in making the scorpion tree carving in living tree bark, known as an arborglyph, “depicting a six-legged creature with a headdress including a crown and two spheres” (Wikipedia).
Herbalism and the use of local medicinal plants was a cornerstone in their culture, “Chumash medicine focused on treating mind, spirit, and body alike to promote the wellness of both the individual and the larger community,” (Wikipedia). Some of the plants commonly used were the common yarrow, yerba santa, laurel sumac, and mugwort (Wikipedia).