New VSFB Road Sign Honors Local Native American Heritage

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kadielle Shaw
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif -- A new road sign to be placed on Vandenberg Space Force Base was named in dedication to the regions Chumash heritage during a road sign naming and Native American Heritage Month ceremony, Nov. 30, 2023, at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg SFB.


“I can think of no better way to capstone this month’s celebration than to honor the heritage by giving name to one of the roads here at Vandenberg,” said Col. Mark Shoemaker, Space Launch Delta 30 commander. “Reflecting on the history of Vandenberg, it is important to acknowledge the rich history of the Chumash tribe and their continued connection here.”


The road sign was named to honor the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians with the name “ma kiyušpakmu’ a mexme’y,” meaning “our gathering place for juncus,” in the Samala Chumash language.

Juncus is a flowering wetland plant that grows in the region, and on Vandenberg SFB, that the Chumash used for basket weaving.


The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indian Cultural Department first reached out to the installation in 1970, with a request to harvest juncus.  From then on the base and the tribe built a relationship to help keep the Native American heritage thriving here.


“The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians are a sovereign nation with whom the base has maintained a unique relationship with,” said Josh Smallwood, Space Launch Delta 30 tribal liaison officer who has worked closely with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “It is a great honor to be in this position and have gotten to work closely with them and be a part of this historical naming ceremony.”


The road sign represents the historical connection the installation and the tribe has maintained for over 53 years, and represents the base’s commitment to maintaining the culture, tradition, and art of our Chumash partners.