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The type of beads used in Chumash necklaces may also have been currency

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PEOPLE living in what is now California may have been the first Americans to invent money, according to a new analysis of shell beads produced 2000 years ago by the Chumash, a Native American community.

There is general agreement that money existed in the Americas before Europeans arrived. The Chumash’s beads, fashioned from the shells of purple dwarf olive sea snails (Olivella biplicata), are seen as a classic example of this.

“Almost all the scholars who focus on the Chumash have agreed that the shell beads were money,” says Lynn …