I spent a day back in December out on Santa Cruz Island with Jennifer Perry, an anthropology professor at Pomona College, for a profile piece
for Pomona Magazine. It was a lot of fun -- she's very bright, and very engaged with the history of the Chumash tribe, whom her research (and that of others) suggests served a role as something of a banker for pre-Columbian trade along the Central California coast.
Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel Islands at 98 square miles, and has been a lot of things over the years, including a ranch. Now owned by the National Park Service
and the Nature Conservancy
, a visit here is a wonderful experience in roughing it. Camping is limited and rudimentary, there are no services, and if you miss the ferry you're stuck until the next day.
What I enjoyed most, though, was listening to Perry talk about the clues in the landscape as she walked along the blufftop, and then inland a bit. What was a pile of loose rock to my eye were, to Perry, the leftovers from of ancient mining, and she poked into the rock piles to pull out the evidence -- chipped stones and discarded tools for splintering the old chert, a kind of flint, into usable sharp edges.
Give the piece a read, and let me know what you think...Photo of Jennifer Perry by Steve Osman/Pro Photography Network. Read More