Did you know…
Native American people still make their home on the Central Coast They have been living in what is now called Cambria for roughly 9,000 years? The coastal stretch from present-day Cayucos to San Carpoforo was their home .
Archeologists refer to these early coastal residents as 'playano', a name first given to them by early Spanish explorers. Playano translates as 'beach people'. Research has revealed that the area around present-day Cambria may have been occupied by as many as 200 families belonging to various tribes who shared a common language known as 'hokan'. These families included individuals from Chumash, Salinan and Esalen native groups. Intermarriage among these groups was common, as was trading and commerce.
Fading evidence of the occupation of these early groups can still be seen along the coastal beaches and byways in or near Cambria. 'Metate', smooth holes which have been worn in the face of boulders by countless years of grinding acorns (a staple food source), can be still be seen along the side of at least one local creek bed. Other evidence includes the presence of simple beach-side fire hearths which were used to prepare shellfish, another favorite food. Some of these sites are thought to date as far back as 4,000 BC.
Well known among these natives are the Chumash Indians. The Chumash lived along the Central Californian coast for hundreds of years. The Chumash interacted intimately with the ocean and were able to craft magnificent plank canoes made out of redwood trees that had drifted down the coast from Northern California. Unfortunately, after the establishment of the Spanish Missions in Central California in the late 1700s, the Chumash population began a rapid decline. Today, only about 7500 people of Chumash decent remain with a small group of them living in the last Chumash village located on the present grounds of the Santa Ynez Chumash Reservation (near Santa Barbara).
Walk around town and you might wonder about the local obsession with clam chowder. Every restaurant seems to have won an award at some time or another for the best bowl of the stuff. The clams you'll eat around town nowadays are not caught in Pismo, most likely....
At one time, a lot of clamming was done locally, but today clams on the beach here are fewer and farther between. This photo gives you the current policies on clamming.