During the Middle Period Native Americans had established a very effective commerce system.  As Native Americans developed in the area, the people on the Channel Islands coast began making Olivella Shell Beads for bracelets and necklaces.  Olivella is also known as 'purple olive' a marine snail.  The bracelets and necklaces became very popular throughout the region.  As their popularity grew, they began to be recognized as valued trade item.  Then, simply evolved into their currency.

It was important that they were made by a very specific people- maintain value and imitations.  The bead money was called 'Anchum'.  The word Chumash and Anchum are related words.  Chumash means- 'Bead Money Makers' or 'Of the Rock or Island'.  The name Chumash was used by the coastal settlements when they spoke of the islanders.  As the Chumash grew, the name expanded to encompass the entire people. 

The Chumash used different parts of the Olivella.  The callus was worth more than the rim of the shell.  The beads were set on a strand and depending on the length of strand, it would have different values.  This was measured by how many times the strand wrapped around the hand.


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