Spotted in the News: America’s Galapagos Islands

 

One of the most fascinating national parks in America lies just 30 miles from Los Angeles, and yet nine out of ten people from the city have never been there, and it is the least visited national park in the country.

The five islands that make up the Channel Islands National Park; Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Barbara, are all technically part of California’s Santa Monica mountain range, but were disconnected from the mainland by the Pleistocene Ice Age of approximately one and a half million years ago. There are three additional islands that while part of the chain, remain outside the parks boundaries: Santa Catalina, San Nicolas and San Clemente.

The islands were home to the Chumash (Michumash) whose name means “Makers of shell bead money.” The people called them in order, Anyapakh, Limuw, Tuqan,Wi’ma, while Santa Barbara Island was mostly occupied by the Gabrieleno people and was named in their tongue.

Their wonderful creation story says that Hutash, the creator, made the first people from the seeds of a magic plant and placed them on what is today, Santa Cruz Island. They lived in harmony with the land and animals for many years until they became too numerous for the islands resources to sustain and so it was decided that some of them would go to the mainland that had no people at all. The creator made a giant rainbow bridge for them to cross the water and told them not to look down but some of them did and this caused them to fall into the ocean. But the Creator loved his people so much that rather than punishing them for disobeying Him, He turned them into dolphin, and to this day the local Chumash believe these mammals carry the souls of their ancestors.

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