BOBBY L. BARRETT 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The original Kumeyaay territory extended from northern San Diego County south to Baja northern Mexico, and from the Pacific Ocean east to the sand dunes of Imperial County. Throughout this region, the relationship between Viejas’ Kumeyaay ancestors and the land is well documented. The Kumeyaay people were truly people of the land. As noted on the Viejas tribal Web site (www.viejasbandofkumeyaay.org): Kumeyaay men were hunters of game, ranging from rabbit and quail to antelope and deer. Men crafted fishhooks, arrows, bows, axes, nets and other hunting implements. Kumeyaay women made fine baskets in coil fashion; pottery, most of the clothing, and created shelter, which varied with the seasons and environments. The Kumeyaay had a complex pattern of land ownership and division of labor that included a network of agricultural holdings in different geographic areas that were cultivated on a seasonal basis. The Kumeyaay engaged in total environmental management of their land and water resources. As chronicled by anthropologist Florence Shipek: Kumeyaay erosion control systems... included complex techniques of controlled burning. These systems were combined with several methods of water management to maintain ground waters close to valley surfaces, and to keep the many springs and surface streams at usable levels for the complex Kumeyaay plant husbandry-corn agriculture systems... An unidentified native grain, which the Spanish described as “excellent pasture,” once covered the valleys and low slopes in the Kumeyaay area... Kumeyaay plant specialists experimented with all plants, testing them for subsistence, medicinal or technical purposes, using seeds, vegetative cuttings or transplants in every location. Jessica Maxwell, in the May-June 1995 edition of Audubon, adds to these observations: When the Spanish first saw the meadows of the mountain valleys east of what we now call San Diego, they pronounced them “excellent pasture.” They assumed them to be natural and, being European herdsmen, considered them prime grazing land... The early invaders were, in fact, gazing upon the ancient grain fields of the indigenous Kumeyaay Indians, some of the earliest—and best—environmental managers in North America. And through the generations, including to this very day, the Kumeyaay people maintain a special relationship with the land. Examples are featured in this issue of The Kumeyaay Way. Writer Paul Doocey chronicles the Band’s sacred relationship with Viejas Mountain. This is the cover story for this issue of The Kumeyaay Way because it is such an important message for the public to understand—both for locals who see the mountain every day and others who may not ever see the mountain, but can appreciate its compelling history. As you drive from the east along I-8 near the community of Alpine, you pass the Viejas Indian Reservation, much of which lies in a valley on the north side of the highway. Viejas Mountain serves as a dramatic backdrop to the reservation’s western border— with a vertical rise of some 4,200 feet. Although it’s a wellknown landmark in this part of San Diego County, few people actually know the rich and beautiful history that the Viejas people share with their namesake mountain. The story “Above it All” will tell you about that history—about how the mountain served as a place of worship, a place to mark the changing of the seasons and a place of protection from invaders—and what’s being done to preserve its environment and heritage. Another article, titled “Pest Control,” demonstrates how the Viejas people continue their stewardship of the land to this day. The Goldspotted Oak Borer is a recent transplant to southern California—an insect that severely damages oak trees across a wide swath of southern and eastern San Diego County, including some oaks on the Viejas Reservation. At a very early stage, Viejas tribal leaders, members and staff mobilized to work with the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies at the federal, state and local level to combat this dangerous pest. It’s an example of Viejas’ continuing commitment to the land, and to working with other levels of government for the greater good. And in another example of our people’s relationship with the land, you’ll find an article about our Cultural Resource Monitor Training Program. Tribal members are trained and certified to assist archeologists, surveyors, developers and others to locate, assess, inventory and secure cultural resources on area lands, both on and off the reservation. As our people traveled from the ocean, through the mountains and into the desert, they left behind artifacts and pieces of history that tell an important story about our area—a story that is valuable for both Natives and non-Natives. Our tribal members who complete this program will help document that history for generations to come. And, finally, in this issue of The Kumeyaay Way you will find articles that highlight a Viejas tribal member’s educational experience, Viejas’ Summer Cultural Program, tribal members supporting a charity, and the origin of the Viejas name, which has an interesting story behind it. I hope you enjoy this issue of The Kumeyaay Way. I welcome your input and look forward to bringing you future issues. Respectfully,
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