Santa Ynez Chumash celebrates Earth Day

Quail Springs, a non-profit educational institution based in Maricopa that offers training for all ages in Permaculture Design and Natural Buildings, offers participants the opportunity to be involved in earthworks construction activities during their lifetime.
Earth Day Santa Ynez Chumash in Kitiyepumu’ Park at the Santa Ynez Indian Reservation on Saturday.

The annual Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day celebration is held on a Saturday on a tribal reservation in Santa Ynez.

The event was organized by the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indian Department of Environment with the aim of sharing information “about the importance of environmental resources with local communities here on how to protect and conserve them,” Teresa Romero, Santa Ynez Chumash India Environmental Director, told News-Press.

The zero-waste event features activities for all ages including arts and crafts, sweepstakes, special appearances by Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear and a food truck with tacos and fried buns for sale. Sweepstakes prizes include watercolor prints, in-house composting units, plants from a tribal nursery, Pendleton-packable outdoor blankets, and more. The first 150 registrants also get a swag bag upon entry.

A live gopher snake carried by Los Flores Ranch in Lompoc interacts with young visitors at the event.
Cooper Lienhart, right, of the San Luis Obispo County Beaver Brigade shows off a piece of wood that beavers chew as he educates passersby about beavers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties during Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day.

Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day had been an annual event for more than ten years until the lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first Santa Ynez Chumash Earth Day since the pandemic began.

“This event is special because it is an Earth Day community event that focuses on Chumash and is open to the public. Tribal departments come to share about their work including: Chumash Ward, Tribal Clinic, Aho Youth Council and Department of Culture. We invite other environmental departments to come as well,” said Ms. Romero.

“It feels great to be able to meet face-to-face and be with the community again, that hasn’t happened in a long time. I think people are really excited to be in the community today,” he added.

One of the unique aspects of Earth Day events is the clothing swap.

Children engage in arts and crafts during the event.

“It went really well. We had people bring and pick up clothes. This is the first exchange in our area that I know of. We are very excited to make it happen. We have people coming in and unloading stuff and then going through and picking up other stuff. What is not taken will be donated to People Helping People, a non-profit organization,” said Ms. Romero.

This is the biggest event organized by Santa Ynez Chumash to date.

“We have almost 200 registrants and maybe more who didn’t. We also have more vendors and organizations. It went really well and I got nothing but great feedback from people dropping by to share about their day here,” said Ms. Romero.

“Little Bear”, a 19-year-old miniature horse from Los Flores Ranch, interacts with visitors at the event.
Hallie Brown, left, of Explore Ecology, a Santa Barbara-based environmental education and arts nonprofit, educates participants about the toxic effects of pollution.

More than a dozen local businesses and organizations attended, including the US Forest Service, Springs Quail Permaculture, Santa Barbara Permaculture, and the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity. The Department of Culture, Education and Tribal Health was also present.

The Department of the Environment was founded by the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indian Tribal Government in 1998. Its mission is to prepare tribal lands for environmental adaptation, to protect and regenerate natural resources and to foster relationships between cultures, passions, and people through collaboration and education. The department implements education and outreach programs, zero waste, water resources, climate adaptation and habitat restoration for tribal communities. To learn more about the program and its community efforts, visit


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