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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
HOPPER MOUNTAIN NWR: Refuge Assists Chumash Tribal Members
Region 8, January 30, 2009

by Michael Woodbridge, Hopper Mountain NWRC
On January 30, Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Manager Dan Tappe accompanied two Chumash Indians on the refuge for an outing to collect dogbane, also known as Indian hemp.  The plant is historically used by Native tribes.

While dogbane is somewhat scarce in this part of California, the plant is prevalent in the wetland areas of Hopper Mountain NWR.  The two Chumash Indians, a Chumash native artist/cultural educator and her cousin, clipped stems of dried dogbane.  The dogbane stems will be used by the Native tribe in making small ropes for necklaces and clothing.  Dogbane fibers have been found in archeological sites dating back thousands of years.  The fibers, when rolled together, make a functional material stronger than cotton.

The Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex has a history of working with Chumash Indians and other Native tribes in the region.  The Complex is home to the endangered California condor, a species closely tied to many Native cultures in California.

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov