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Our First Inhabitants: The Chumash Indians Mural

Santa Paula Murals

Our First Inhabitants: The Chumash Indians Mural

The artist who created this mural hiked to the historic site of the Chumash Indian village of Sisa  (along Santa Paula creek in the foothills above Santa Paula) to get a sense of the landscape. She also talked to the daughter of a Chumash “culture bearer.” In the mural, a Chumash grandmother tells her granddaughter the story of her people, beginning with the Mission period and moving back in history to the life they lived in their early villages. Represented are activities and scenes typical of ancient Chumash culture which thrived in this area for thousands of years – hunters bringing back their game, men fishing in the creek, a sweat lodge, baskets and arrows being made, a trading scene, and a wide variety of animals, birds, and plants that were abundant here in earlier times.

Ann E.Thiermann, muralist

Ann Elizabeth Thiermann, a classically trained artist with an extensive background in both landscape and figurative painting, has designed over 50 murals for natural history museums, art museums, libraries and educational institutions. Ann holds both a BA in art from UCSC and an MFA in painting and drawing from Cal State University, Long Beach.

Her work caught the eye of Joyce Carlson, Chairperson of The Murals of Santa Paula, who viewed one of her murals in the Museum of Natural History in Santa Cruz, California depicting life among the Ohlone Indians in the Santa Cruz area. She was asked to submit a proposal for a mural about life in a Chumash Indian village historically located along the Santa Paula Creek.

Thiermann carefully researched all aspects of life among the Chumash Indians in this area and hiked into the hills above Santa Paula to the site of a former Chumash village. She received confirmation for all the details in her mural from a professor of anthropology and Julie Tumamait, a local Chumash culture bearer.

The mural is used as a teaching tool for school children who learn about the first inhabitants of Santa Paula and are intrigued by learning about their way of life and the many animals and birds depicted in the mural.