SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - 84-year old Ernestine Ygnacio-De Soto has been named the 2023 Old Spanish Days Grand Marshal in Santa Barbara.
She is a Barbareno Chumash tribal elder with family history dating back many generations.
The announcement was made at the Ambassador Park location on Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara which was, in 1542, the location of the first recorded sighting of the Chumash Tribe at that site by Spanish explorers.
Then it was the Syuxtun Indian Village.
For Ygnacio-De Soto, she stressed as part of the honor she will help to educate the public about her ancestry. "We are right here. This entire coast," she said.
The 2023 Old Spanish Days El Presidente David Bolton said, "Ernestine's great great grandmother was the last surviving member that had lived here at Syuxtun. Her mother, Mary Yee, was the last native speaker of the Chumash language. Ernestine has spent a lifetime keeping alive the culture of the Chumash."
This honor is also a chance to educate the public about the Indian presence on the coast and when they were first recognized by explorers in 1542.
In 2016, Old Spanish Days also remembered the Chumash with a poster that included a tomal on the ocean just off the same coastal spot as the poster. It was presented with a recreation of the tomal at sea with then Grand Marshal Jean Michel Cousteau.
Now in 2023, the public will again learn about the Barbareno Indians deep connections in our area.
"We are reviving, we are trying to save not only ourselves but all of you. We are now engaged in what you call cultural circles where we are bringing back the foods, the basketry, all the things that were utilized then," said Ygnacio-De Soto.
These days our new Fiesta Grand Marshal is focusing on preserving the tribal heritage and the environment.
Ygnacio-De Soto said, "I am spending my time trying to support all the programs I am called into like the ocean preservation, creeks the environment above us and that's what we do. "
Along with the Grand Marshal honor comes a prestigious place in the Fiesta Parade el Desfile Historico.
"Ernestine will be riding in a carriage very prominent as our parade grand marshal accompanied by her nephew and her daughter and niece as well. It's going to be a great moment," said Bolton.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta will be August 2-6 in Santa Barbara.
For more information go to: Old Spanish Days
Note: in a previous version the site was named as the Syujtun Village which has been used for the location. It is also more commonly known as the Syuxtun Village.
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