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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 10:10 am | Fair 56º


Touring Exhibit on Native American Healing Practices Coming to CSU Channel Islands

University’s Danza Tlaloc Ollin Aztec dancers will perform at opening reception

CSU Channel Islands has links to Chumash history.
CSU Channel Islands has links to Chumash history. (Courtesy of U.S. National Library of Medicine)

When the Chumash people lived on the land now occupied by CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI), healers routinely collected native plants such as sage, mugwort and yerba santa to treat various ailments.

Beyond administering herbs, healing an individual was considered a community practice, requiring spiritual and family support.

Native American healing practices such as those practiced by the Chumash will be explored in a national traveling exhibit that will be on display at CSUCI’s John Spoor Broome Library, Feb. 27 through April 10.

Native Voices: Native People’s Concepts of Health and Illness is sponsored by the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health and is toured through the American Library Association.

The exhibit concentrates on Native American concepts of wellness, illness and cultural life and how they relate to community, spirit and the land.

“The university has ties to Chumash history, so there is already native background at our university that students may not know about,” said Janet Pinkley, CSUCI associate librarian.

“This exhibit will expose our students to cultures of healing beyond Western healing practices and raise awareness of the local indigenous community,” she said.

Two events will take place in conjunction with the exhibit. Colorful performances from CSUCI’s Danza Tlaloc Ollin Aztec dancers and a presentation from a Chumash tomol paddler will highlight an opening reception at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5.

Tomols are canoes built from redwood planks that were used by the Chumash to cross back and forth between the Channel Islands and the mainland.

James D. Adams, University of Southern California associate professor, will present a talk on Understanding Medicines Based on Chumash Tradition, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, April 8, in the John Spoor Broome Library Exhibition Hall.

Adams has studied Chumash medicine for 14 years with a Chumash healer, and plans to speak about the healing powers of native plants found in the area, and about the broader concepts of Chumash medicine.

“It’s about balance,” Adams said. “The most important things a healer can do is teach people how to live in balance.

“If you live in balance, your body heals itself. You love God, you love your family, you respect all people, work to improve your community and your environment. You take only what you need and keep yourself thin and strong.”

In addition, Raudel Banuelos, CSUCI’s director of facility support, will display his personal collection of Chumash artifacts, handed down to him from his grandmother. Banuelos is a Chumash descendant and vice tribal chair of Barbareño/Ventureño Band Of Mission Indians.

Included will be grinding bowls, a pestle, elderberry percussion instruments and a gourd rattle.

“I like to educate people and let people know about the indigenous people who were here and are still on this land,” Banuelos said. “Our campus is definitely sacred. We have Round Mountain where we, the Chumash, would celebrate the winter solstice.

“We want people to never forget that the university sits on powerful and sacred land and it should be respected as so.”

The Ventura County Archaeological Society, Museum of Ventura County and the Stagecoach Inn & Museum will also loan artifacts for display. And, Chicana/o studies faculty member Veronica Valadez will offer some of her indigenous Mesoamerican artwork for the exhibit.

Being chosen as one of the destinations of the traveling exhibit is an honor and a competitive process, Pinkley said, so she and fellow curator Laura Worden said they are delighted CSUCI will have a chance to share the exhibit with the local community.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine developed and produced Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness. The American Library Association Public Programs Office, in partnership with NLM, tours the exhibition to America’s libraries.

For more information visit: https://library.csuci.edu/about/news/native-voices-exhibit.htm.

— Kim Gregory for CSU Channel Islands.


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