The Riviera Ridge School Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, tribal leader of the Barbareño-Ventureño band of Chumash

In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, on October 9, The Riviera Ridge School held a Middle School assembly welcoming Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, tribal leader of the Barbareño-Ventureño band of Chumash to speak with students about her people, culture, and traditions.

“Julie masterfully connects with students and engages them in calibrating their understanding beyond a historical/ fixed perspective,” Kari Elier, JK- 8th grade Kaleidoscope faculty member and Lower School Reading Specialist, said. “She helps them understand that the Chumash people are still very much alive and actively involved in preserving their cultural traditions while contributing to our community in incredibly valuable ways.”

Eiler helped pioneer the Riviera Ridge School’s Kaleidoscope program, in collaboration with UCSB’s Religious Studies faculty, more than a decade ago. This curriculum gives students from Junior Kindergarten to 8th grade the chance to study the traditions and values of world religions and diverse cultures through a global and unifying perspective.

“Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity to celebrate and learn about the incredible contributions that Indigenous people have made and continue to make in our communities,” Eiler said. “We wish to acknowledge the first stewards of the land upon which the Riviera Ridge School is located and we offer our respect to the Chumash who hold the memories, traditions, and the culture of this area which has become a place of learning for our school.”

Julie Tumamait-Stenslie’s lineage goes back to at least 11 known Chumash villages and as far back as the mid-18th century. She has worked as a cultural resource consultant from Malibu to Santa Barbara to the Channel Islands, providing guidance for private groups and state, county, and city regulatory agencies.

For the assembly, students explored her collection of artifacts, from acorns to hand-woven baskets, to furs. Tumamait-Stensile also shared pictures and stories about her tribal traditions and answered questions from the crowd who benefited from the interactive experience.

“The educational value of considering various perspectives through first-hand accounts is essential in forming a fully informed understanding of our history,” Eiler said. “This is particularly true when we  strive to reach a mutual understanding with the Chumash people -who are delicately laced in an interconnected web with us. We have much to learn from their wisdom and stewardship of this sacred land we love.  Our planet needs us to acknowledge our interconnectivity and interdependence now more than ever.”

Ms. Tumamait-Stenslie has partnered with Ms. Eiler and the Kaleidoscope program since 2019.

At Riviera Ridge, we provide student-centered, individualized learning in a joyful and nurturing community, inspiring academic excellence and valuing difference. The educational vision for each Riviera Ridge graduate is to empower individual potential, inspire purpose beyond self, and cultivate social responsibility as they prepare for high school and beyond.

For more information, email or call 805-569-1811 ext. 131.

Rebecca Horrigan

Written by Rebecca Horrigan

Rebecca is a teacher, writer, and lover of food & wine. She enjoys sharing her travel experiences with the Santa Barbara community.

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