Patrick Tumamait is the son of Vincent Tumamait & Lucy Castro Tumamait. He grew up in the Ojai Valley and still lives in the Meiners Oaks neighborhood near the birthplace of his great, great grandmother, Maria Ricarda Alulalmeque, who was raised in the Chumash village of Matilija. Pat has traced his family lineage from his father to at least 11 known Chumash villages and as far back as the mid-18th century.
Pat attended Meiners Oaks Elementary School where Matt Boardmann, author of the renowned coming-of-age children’s book Badger Claws of Ojai, was his 3rd grade teacher and inspired him to be proud of his heritage. He has been a member of the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians (Chumash) since its inception. His sister Julie Tumamait-Stenslie is a past Tribal Chair. Pat represents the Chumash at powwows and other events and gatherings.
He currently works as a native Chumash representative monitoring excavation sites from Malibu to Santa Barbara to the Channel Islands, part of that in consultation with archeologists in the event of any findings. He sees that everything is handled appropriately according to protocol.
“The native side,” he explains, “is to protect what is all natural in a way that native people would respect, in other words, how the ancestors would want us to deal with it in today’s time. Many of the artifacts were handed down. State and federal laws are getting better but the native way is deeper. Part of my role is educating archeologists about our tribal ways. Much of that I do by relying on instinct, through an inner being that I am connected to.”
First, in adherence with state laws, Pat and the archeologists will identify, catalogue, record, document, and curate findings in a proper manner. Then Pat’s additional spiritual role as a Chumash representative is to burn sage and tobacco.
“The culture and the people are still alive. Our life entails protecting the cultural history and ancestry of our people, having people recognize the past as a legacy to our future. Protection and awareness so that we can share it with others and preserve it for the future generations to come. I give thanks to our Creator and to those who care enough to preserve and learn from new discoveries found in excavations. We’re fortunate to have people who want to listen and learn about our culture. I feel honored to be associated with those people.”
“We have to remind ourselves that we are the Gate Keepers of the World in all its of glory and beauty and not take it for granted for Mother Earth is almighty.”