As a single-mother of five children, Pilulaw fought not only for the wellbeing of her family and community, but also for people across the globe. She was a fierce advocate for women’s and human rights, marching with Caesar Chavez, meeting with Traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Hopi diplomatic delegations, and confronting officials over the Church’s role in the decimation of indigenous California peoples through their colonial system of forced-labor production centers (ie, “missions”), securing a first ever public apology.
She also stood strong against threats to the environment and human health, including preventing the construction of an industrial liquified natural gas plant at Humqaq (Pt. Conception), advocating against nuclear weapons before the United Nations, helping establish the Carrizo Plain National Monument, organizing SLO Earth Day, mobilizing environmental allies, and employing the media to garner public support against powerful corporations like Walmart. She was also an early advocate for what is now the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.
Pilulaw was a guardian and a speaker-teacher of Chumash culture heritage, teaching in grade schools and college classrooms as well as fighting for the preservation of sacred and cultural sites. Pilulaw told her own story as author of Earth Wisdom: A California Chumash Woman. She became the Northern Chumash Bear Clan Mother and Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation Elder, imparting her wisdom and encouraging the next generations of tenacious advocates fighting for people and the planet. Her son, Chumash Bear Clan Member Michael Khus-zarate, serves as NCTC Board Member.
Pilulaw’s book “Earth Wisdom” by Yolanda Broyles-González and Pilulaw Khus is available for purchase here