Gaviota Coast Galavants: Chumash Arrowhead

chumash-arrowhead-gaviota-hikeAugust 2016

“The reverence attached to the artifacts of history is a thing men feel. One could even say that what endows any thing with significance is solely the history in which it has participated.”

–Cormac McCarthy, “The Crossing”

The sacred and deadly cynegetic art of a Chumash craftsman rendered in stone for the ages. Initially an unremarkable bit of rock like trillions of others, once worked by skillful human hands it was destined to be treasure.

I’d come to go spearfishing, to hunt the nearshore shallows for summer halibut and white seabass. The water murky, and motivated by something inexpressible compelling me onward rather than homeward, I had instead wandered on down the seashore to see what I might see, seemingly guided by some unknown force. Within, inexplicably, something insisted I was on my way to find an arrowhead.

And there along my meandering way the small bit of handcrafted stone lay in the dirt among twigs and pebbles. Out of sight at first and unnoticed, I had bent down and fingered at some random otherwise unremarkable debris only to send the stone point flittering across the bare soil.

*  *  *

I kneel in the brush, flick at some natural litter, and a white arrowhead unexpectedly flips into sight.

The ritual pause upon discovery.

Squatting in the scrub a stone’s throw from the beach I hesitate to snatch up the rare find, last touched by the hands of an Indian, a remnant piece of, and a small link to, one of the world’s great maritime cultures.

There lies the arrowhead, last touched by an Indian, laden with the reverential weight of its history. The small artifact weighs much heavier in mind than in hand.

I hover over it deep in thought.

I reach slowly, pull my hand back slightly, then extend measuredly and pinch up the thin stone blade between two fingers. Contact.

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5 Responses to Gaviota Coast Galavants: Chumash Arrowhead

  1. Oh yes, you have captured the essence that affects some of us – that subtle mystery connection with earlier cultures… when I visit areas rich with broken pieces of a long-ago culture, I collect those of interest, admire them as the collection grows, and then when ready to move on, I take them back in a token ‘catch and release’ and — for me —- give them back to the ocean…

    It’s always a pleasure to read your posts… Happy Holidays!

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Thank you. Your comment recalls a friend that once found an arrowhead along Gaviota, then later returned to the site and through it into the ocean. Interesting that you mentioned that!

  2. Jim Ansley says:

    Jack, we’ve never met, but I feel as tho I know you. This piece today is profoundly moving even in it’s brevity. Thanks again.

  3. Jack Elliott says:

    This just out. . .”A 21-mile stretch of roadway along the Gaviota Coast has been designated a State Scenic Highway in an effort to protect and enhance its beauty.

    The newest segment travels through one of the longest remaining rural coastlines in Southern California along Highway 101, . . .”

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