November 01, 2012

Maria the Chumash play

Play featuring Chumash stories and songs to be staged in SBTraditional stories and songs rarely heard outside of the Santa Ynez Chumash tribe will be part of an original play titled “Maria,” which will be performed by tribal members at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Fleischmann Auditorium.

These first-ever performances for the general public are presented by the Elders Council of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The play is based on the life of Chumash ancestor Maria Solares, who was born in 1842. She left a legacy that continues to be of importance to Chumash families today and to the studies of California Native American history. She’s responsible for much of what’s known about the Samala language.

Solares collaborated with anthropologist John P. Harrington. The Samala-English Dictionary, published by the tribe in 2007, notes, “Sometimes it seems that Harrington took down every word Maria muttered.” Harrington supplemented his written documents with audio recordings, originally using wax cylinders. The cylinders include Solares singing traditional tribal songs.

The play weaves chapters of Solares’ life with tribal stories and songs. Some of the tribal members in the play will be performing the roles of their ancestors.
Comment:  For more on the Chumash, see Beau Bridges Fights for Chumash and Boy Scouts Build Chumash Village.

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