AbstractA large number of dry caves scattered across the mountainous Santa Barbara backcountry, in south-central California, have yielded a unique collection of indigenous artefacts. The xeric environmental conditions in these caves have resulted in exceptional preservation of perishable materials; and the assemblage contains items such as wooden bullroarers, feather bands, deer bone whistles, basketry and curated plant materials. A significant proportion of this material appears to have been deposited in the colonial period (AD 1769 – late 19th century). This region was occupied primarily by the indigenous Chumash people, semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers who were characterised by their complex political organisation, diverse subsistence base, and rich ceremonial tradition. Indigenous life was plunged into turmoil from AD 1769 when the Spanish missionisation programme heralded the start of the colonial period. Over the next hundred years Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American colonisers dramatically changed the economic, political and ecological landscape of south-central California. The majority of archaeological studies pertaining to the Chumash have focused on the prehistoric period. Most previous colonial-period studies have concentrated on the missions and closely adjacent indigenous sites where colonial influence was strongest. The study of cache caves and their artefacts provides a novel opportunity to explore indigenous practices during the turbulent colonial period within the more autonomous context of the Santa Barbara hinterland. This thesis provides the first collation of all the data relating to cache cave sites and their associated artefacts in the Santa Barbara hinterland. This information has been used to provide a basic chronological and geographic framework, and in turn, to propose models for indigenous caching practices in the Santa Barbara hinterland. These caching models are explored in terms of value systems in order to consider processes of indigenous resistance and acculturation during the colonial period.
Whitby, Wendy Elizabeth (2012) Wrapped in Meaning: Chumash Cache Caves. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.