As protesters rallied in opposition to the Malibu Lagoon project on Pacific Coast Highway Friday, several members of the Chumash tribe carried smoking sage as they walked through the lagoon.
The sage smudging served as a cleansing and a blessing of the Malibu Lagoon, which tribal members believe is too sick to sustain life.
"This is not about fighting in opposition. This is about healing," said Mati Waiya of the Chumash tribe during a prayer on the edge of the lagoon overlooking .
The Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project is expected to begin as early as Monday. Activists and surfers began protesting the project on Friday, and another protest is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.
Barbara Tejada, a State Parks archaeologist, said the Chumash are being included in the monitoring of the project.
"During the project, we're going to have archaeological and native monitors during all the ground disturbance to be on the lookout in case any artifacts, both historic or native period come up," Tejada said.
David Paul Dominguez of the Chumash said he is concerned for the wildlife in the lagoon, and tribal members will be at the project site daily once it gets underway.
"This is getting restored to its natural habitat. It's been disturbed by centuries of misuse, mismanagement," Dominguez said.
He added the sage is more than a blessing.
"We're asking for forgiveness. We're asking that this [project] goes in a good way. We're here for these people," Dominguez said, pointing to two ducks in the lagoon. "We're here for them, the smallest creatures."
Dominguez said he feels honored to work within the process to make sure the lagoon is healed.
"We're going to be able to interact with the state of California and give our perspective and our plant knowledge," he said.
Read more about the protest and the project: .