Anapamu, Santa Barbara, CA

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Text reads:

The street name Anapamu meaning “rising place,” referred to a prominent hill upon which was situated a shrine where local Chumash Indian people gathered to worship powerful supernatural beings in the world above. The shrine was considered holy and a place where concentrated supernatural power was located. At the time of winter solstice when prayers were offered to the sun, Santa Barbara’s Indian people placed poles decorated with feathers on the summit of Anapamu. These poles were to remain for an entire year, to be renewed by village chiefs in and about Santa Barbara. Prayers for food, good health, protection from bears and rattlesnakes, and a host of other human needs and desires were conducted on the summit of such shrines. Just as the descendants of the Chumash today hold and respect the traditional beliefs of their ancestors, it is hoped that through an understanding of their culture, you will acquire an appreciation for the meaning of Anapamu.

I saw this wall out of the corner of my eye while walking down Anapamu Street in Downtown Santa Barbara. While I was slightly strapped on time so that I could make it to my 17:00 bus back to Isla Vista, I stopped and stared.

Stared at the red text that looked that it had been there for a while, clearly tagged by someone who disregarded its historical value and clearly did not read what these indigenous folks had to share with people in the present day.

Weird how I’ve been downtown too many times to count, yet not once did I ever consider the meaning behind Anapamu and street names that are named after people, groups, and culture in the area. All I ever assumed was surface-level thoughts like “Oh yeah, De La Guerra, like the DLG dining common (at UCSB) or DLG in the Jack Johnson song.”

I really appreciate that the city created this wall to educate passersby–whether they work downtown or are visiting from a foreign country–about the origins of the culture and history in Santa Barbara. But at the same time, I’m sure that the indigenous Chumash group had to really go out of their way to have their history preserved, as their physical space has been taken over by white people…..


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