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VENTURA : Unprotected Site Upsets Chumash

Local Chumash Indians are upset that a recently uncovered 200-year-old aqueduct believed to have been built by the Chumash was left unprotected over the weekend and fell prey to scavengers.

The aqueduct, on Telephone Road east of Saticoy Avenue in Saticoy, was discovered two weeks ago as crews were widening a 1.2-mile stretch of Telephone Road.

Sal Perez, a Chumash, said Tuesday that he noticed that the site was being overrun by people on Saturday as he was playing golf at a nearby course.

He went to the site and asked people not to disturb the rocks that form the aqueduct. He counted 20 to 25 people milling around the exposed rocks.

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“Parents brought their kids here,” he said. “They read about it in the newspaper and they wanted an arrowhead.” Disrupting Indian artifacts is a misdemeanor.

He said Ventura police were notified, but no one from the department responded during the next couple of hours.

Ventura Police Sgt. Ted Prell said an officer responded to the location given, the intersection of Saticoy Avenue and Telephone Road, and could not locate anyone.

Archeologist Bob Johnson, a consultant on the site, said, “No appreciable damage was done over the weekend. Maybe a couple of rocks were taken, but no significant damage.”

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Ventura city engineer Mark Watkins said the archeologist on the project did not recommend extra security at the site over the weekend. “We generally go off the archeologist’s recommendation,” he said. The site drew people, he said, because it was erroneously believed to be a Chumash burial ground.

Watkins said the aqueduct lies under the road’s new median strip. It will be mapped and left undisturbed with a layer of sand over it, he said.


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