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The Glories of Warriors : Powwow Ceremonies Recall Sacred Traditions of Indian Tribes

June 11, 1988|MARY ELLEN STROTE

Malibu Lagoon--Malibu was once known as Humaliwo, a Chumash word for "place of the wild surf," but if you watch the waves from the Malibu Lagoon, you will note that they die down as they near shore. It is thought that these calm waters were a launching site for canoes. Some historians speculate that Malibu Lagoon was the site of the large Indian village discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542.

The museum displays Malibu artifacts: a mortar bowl from Point Dume, a grinding stone from Las Flores Creek and a variety of arrow points, spear points, pipes and pendants. You will also see a large mural by Julie Van Zandt May that depicts the site as it may have looked in 1542.

Malibu Lagoon Museum, 23200 Pacific Coast Highway; (213) 456-8432. Open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Last docent-led tour at 1:15. Call for special tours. Grounds open dawn to dusk. Admission free.

Park La Brea--About where the Park La Brea Towers apartment complex now stands was once an ancient Indian village whose inhabitants controlled access to the nearby springs and tar pits. The large milling stones found there indicate that it was a permanent settlement.

"People would come here from far away to collect tar and they would carry items to trade," says George Jefferson, assistant curator at the nearby Page Museum. These items included elk antlers and seashells worked into pendants and beads.

The 9,000-year-old remains of the La Brea Woman, the only human ever found in the La Brea dig, can also be seen at the museum. "Evidence suggests she was related to the early Chumash people," said Jefferson.

Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wilshire Blvd.; (213) 857-6311. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Monday. Information: George Jefferson, (213) 857-6316. Admission: Adults, $3; students with ID and seniors 62 and over, $1.50; children under 5 free.

Eaton Canyon Nature Center--Gabrielino Indians once used Eaton Canyon as a summer and fall gathering site. They were attracted to the lush riparian plant community that grows in Eaton Canyon. Edible plants such as elderberries, coffee berries, golden currants, chaparral currants and holly-leaf cherries can still be gathered by those who know native plants. Nearby oak woodlands provide a good supply of acorns.

Inside the Nature Center you will see Indian artifacts found locally. A course on Indian uses of native plants is offered twice a year.

Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park, 1750 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena; (818) 794-1866. Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Free admission.

Satwiwa Loop Trail and Native American Indian Cultural Center--Since prehistoric times, the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been an important ceremonial site. Today it features a hiking trail that will introduce you to an ancient way of life. The grasslands, oak woodlands and chaparral supplied materials for food, clothing, medicine, housing and basket making. You will also see Boney Mountain, which played an important role in the celebration of the solstice.

On Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., an American Indian park host is available to answer questions at the center. Admission is free. Information: (818) 888-3770.

Satwiwa Loop Trail and Native American Indian Cultural Center at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa. Take U.S. 101 to Wendy exit in Newbury Park. Go south on Wendy to Potrero Road, turn right on Portrero to intersection of Pinehill Road and Portrero. Free parking mile into the property. Open daily, dawn to dusk.

Painted Cave--This California State Historical Monument, a sandstone rock shelter painted with pictographs, is one of the more spectacular Chumash sites. Not a lot is known about the Painted Cave's origins, but theories abound. One is that the abstract symbols and mythological drawings were painted by Chumash "priests" to help restore cosmic balance, perhaps at the time of important astronomical events. Archeologist Travis Hudson theorizes that one of the paintings was done at the time of an eclipse of the sun in 1677. Another speculation is that the painters were on personal vision quests, in search of spiritual helpers, and that the paintings may have been part of a puberty ritual for boys. Or, perhaps, the colorful paintings were simply illustrations of legends and stories told by elders of the tribe.

Painted Cave can be viewed during daylight hours; it is protected by iron bars. Find the cave by driving north on U.S. 101 past Santa Barbara. Take California 154 north, six miles up San Marcos Pass Road to the intersection with Painted Cave Road. Turn right to a shady canyon with a sign reading Painted Cave.

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