Members of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation, who call themselves Samala, primarily labored on non-Chumash farms and ranches through the 1900s. This began to change in 2003, when Chumash Casino Resort opened. Gaming has a long tradition in Chumash culture, and many Chumash villages had a designated area for games of skill and chance, called a malamtepupi.
With new gaming and hospitality revenue, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation has been able to invest in other enterprises with a focus on local food and hospitality so ingrained in Chumash culture. New generations of Chumash are discovering and honoring their heritage through the revitalization of the Samala language spoken by the Santa Ynez band, using knowledge left by the last original Barbareño (closely related to Samala) speaker, Mary Yee, who died in 1965.
Tomol canoes are once again being constructed and crewed to reconnect with ancestors, and ceremonial dances again take place on bluffs overlooking the ocean thanks in part to the efforts of the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation and others dedicated to preserving and honoring Chumash knowledge and heritage. The Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center, slated to open at the end of 2022, will be a 14,000-square-foot facility incorporating architecture reflecting Chumash culture. The design of the Museum includes the Welcome House, Heritage House, traditional Tule House, Samala Language House, and a Tomol House, all symbolically bringing together several houses to make a village. The project will include a 3.5-acre cultural park featuring native plants used by the Chumash. The Museum was designed by the Seattle-based, award-winning Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects. Founding Partner Johnpaul Jones is Choctaw/Cherokee by heritage and was one of the principal designers of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington, D.C.