Executive Director, Wishtoyo Foundation
Chumash ceremonial leader and Dolphin Dancer Mati Waiya (Little Hawk), is a life long resident of Ventura County. A graduate of Buena High School, Mati attended Ventura College before joining his uncle’s contracting business. Driven to succeed, Mati later started his own construction company, and moved his family to Newbury Park in 1989. Soon thereafter, he connected with his Chumash culture, embracing their ways and ceremonies, and began studying with elders of his tribe. He learned the dances, songs and stories, as well as the history of his native people. He appreciated the Chumash culture’s connection with the natural environment and their teachings of sustainability and responsibility.
After many years of study, in 1997 Mati created the Wishtoyo Foundation, a non-profit organization. Wishtoyo is the Chumash word for rainbow, and like the legend telling of the arrival of the first Chumash settlers on a rainbow bridge from Santa Cruz Island, Wishtoyo serves as a bridge to link the people of today to their environment – the land, air and water that support and sustain them. Wishtoyo aims to preserve Chumash culture by using traditional beliefs, practices, songs, stories and dances to create self-respect and teach a greater awareness of the connection with and dependence upon the natural environment.
Wishtoyo’s strong ties to environmental awareness fostered the launch in February 2001 of the Ventura Coastkeeper, 54th member of the national Waterkeeper Alliance, founded by Robert Kennedy, Jr. Mati is the first Native American to become a Keeper – an ombudsman dedicated to protecting, preserving and restoring our marine habitat, coastal waters and watersheds and to bridging the gap between pollution laws, as stated in the federal Clean Water Act, and the government’s ability to enforce them.
Mati is actively involved with preservation of Chumash cultural/historical sites. He also addresses cultural resource laws protecting sensitive archaeological sites as well as endangered species and natural resources.
Mati conducts Chumash ceremonies including Solstice, and continues the mission of the Wishtoyo Foundation by giving cultural presentations for schools, public events, government functions and grassroots foundations. Wishtoyo offers presentations and programs at our living Chumash Village at Nicholas Canyon County Beach Park in Malibu, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Programs introduce students and the public to the sights, sounds and workings of an authentic Chumash village. Waiya’s believes education is the primary tool for a future healthy, sustainable environment, awakening a passion for our natural surroundings to be passed on for generations to come.