Anthony Pico, former chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay
Total population
As of 1990, 1,200 on reservations; 2,000 off-reservation[1]
Regions with significant populations
Ipai, Kumeyaay, Tipai, English, and Spanish
Related ethnic groups
Luiseño, Cocopa, Quechan, Paipai and Kiliwa
Michael Connolly, from San Diego, pronounces Kumeyaay

The Kumeyaay, also known as 'Iipai-Tiipai or by the historical Spanish name Diegueño, is a tribe of Indigenous peoples of the Americas who live at the northern border of Baja California in Mexico and the southern border of California in the United States. They are an indigenous people of California.

The Kumeyaay language belongs to the Yuman–Cochimí language family. The Kumeyaay consist of three related groups, the 'Iipai, Tiipai, and Kamia. The San Diego River loosely divided the 'Iipay and the Tiipai historical homelands, while the Kamia lived in the eastern desert areas. The 'Iipai lived to the north, from Escondido to Lake Henshaw, while the Tiipai lived to the south, in lands including the Laguna Mountains, Ensenada, and Tecate. The Kamia lived to the east in an area that included Mexicali and bordered the Salton Sea.


Further information: California Missions

The Kumeyaay or 'Iipai-Tiipai were formerly known as the Diegueños, the former Spanish name applied to the Mission Indians living along the San Diego River.[2] They are referred to as the Kumiai in Mexico.

The term Kumeyaay translates as "People of the west", with the word meyaay meaning "steep" or "cliff".[3]


All languages and dialects spoken by the Kumeyaay belong to the Delta–California branch of the Yuman language family, to which several other linguistically distinct, but related, groups also belong (including the Cocopa, Quechan, Paipai, and Kiliwa). Native speakers contend that, within their territory, all Kumeyaay ('Iipay/Tiipay) can understand and speak to each other, if even after a brief familiarization.[4]

Nomenclature and tribal distinctions are not widely agreed upon. According to Margaret Langdon, who is credited with doing much of the early work on documenting the language,[5][6] the general scholarly consensus recognized three separate languages:

Katherine Luomala considered that the wide range of dialect variations reflected only two distinct languages, 'Iipai and Tiipai,[7] a view mostly supported by other researchers.[8][9]


Engraving by Arthur Carl Victor Schott, Sorony & Co., 1857

Pre-European contact

Evidence of the settlement in what is today considered Kumeyaay territory may go back twelve millennia.[10] Circa 7000 B.C. marked the emergence of two cultural traditions: the California Coast and Valley tradition and the Desert tradition.[7] The Kumeyaay had land along the Pacific Ocean from present Oceanside, California in the north to south of Ensenada, Mexico and extending east to the Colorado River.[11] The Cuyamaca complex, a late Holocene complex in San Diego County is related to the Kumeyaay peoples.[12] The Kumeyaay tribe also used to inhabit what is now a popular state park, known as Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.[13]

One view holds that historic 'Iipai-Tiipai emerged around one millennium ago, though a "proto-'Iipai-Tiipai culture" had been established by about 5000 B.C.[1] Katherine Luomola suggests that the "nucleus of later Tipai-Ipai groups" came together around A.D. 1000.[7] The Kumeyaay themselves traditionally hold that they have lived in San Diego since 10,000 B.C.[14] At the time of European contact, Kumeyaay comprised several autonomous bands with thirty patrilineal clans.[15]

Spanish exploration and colonization

The first European to visit the region was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542. He had initially met with the Kumeyaay, but this did not lead to any colonial settlement. Sebastián Vizcaíno also visited in 1602 and met with a band of Kumeyaay during the feast of San Diego de Alcalá, thus giving the region of San Diego its name; however, this also did not lead to colonial settlement.

Location of the Kumeyaay village of Kosa'aay in yellow.

Missionization period

In 1769, the Portolá expedition anchored in San Diego Bay and, once on land, traveled to the Kumeyaay village of Cosoy (Kosa'aay) to recover and resupply. After their recovery, the Spanish established a presidio over the village and the Misión San Diego de Alcalá, incorporating the village into the settlement of San Diego. In 1769, under the Spanish Mission system, bands living near Misión San Diego de Alcalá (overlooking the San Diego River, in present-day Mission Valley), were called Diegueños; later bands, living near Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, were called the Luiseño.[15] The Spaniards brought with them new, non-native, invasive flora and domestic animals, which brought about some level of degradation to local ecology. This included grazing and foraging livestock animals such as pigs, goats, sheep, cattle, horses, donkeys, and various birds, like chickens, pheasants and ducks; the latter dirtying local water sources considerably.

After years of sexual assaults from the Spanish soldiers in the Presidio, and physical torture of Mission Indians using metal-tipped whips (by Mission staff),[16] the 'Iipay-Tiipay-Kumeyaay villages led a revolt against the Spanish, burning down Mission San Diego and killing Father Luis Jayme along with two others. Missionaries and church leaders “apologized” and forgave the Kumeyaay, rebuilding their mission closer to the Kumeyaay village of Nipaquay or Nipawai. Ultimately, the Spanish solidified their control over the area until the end of the mission era.[17]

Colorado River conflict

In the east, the Kamia-Kumeyaay were engaged in an armed regional conflict in the Colorado River region against a coalition of Yuman speaking tribes east of the Colorado River and the Cahuilla led by the Maricopa. The Kumeyaay aligned with Quechan-led coalition, along with the Mohave, Yavapai, Chemehuevi, and other smaller groups on the Colorado River. The Spanish mediated peace talks between the two warring factions in the mid-1770s, largely siding with the Quechan-aligned alliance. However, increased tensions between the Spanish and the Quechan led to resumed conflict in 1781, but with the Spanish being denied overland access to Alta California and siding with the Maricopa-aligned coalition.[18] The Spanish would then refocus their attention westwards to secure their maritime access to Alta California on 'Iipay-Tiipay-Kumeyaay lands.

Early Mexican rancho era

First Mexican Empire and First Mexican Republic period

The Mexican Empire assumed ownership of Kumeyaay lands after defeating Spain in the Mexican War of Independence in 1821. The following year, Mexican troops confiscated all coastal lands from the Kumeyaay in 1822, granting much of the land to Mexican settlers, who became known as Californios,[19] to develop the land for agriculture, beginning the California rancho era.

Kumeyaay fell victim to smallpox and malaria epidemics in 1827 and 1832, reducing their population.[20]

Various disputes culminated to a skirmish between the Kumeyaay and Mexican soldiers stationed in San Diego in 1826, killing 26 Kumeyaay.[20] This provoked Lt. Juan M. Ibarra to lead several attacks on Kumeyaay-controlled lands, killing 28 people in his attack on Santa Ysabel.[21]

After decades of debates and delays, the missions in Alta California were secularized in 1833, and Ipai and Tipais lost their lands; band members had to choose between becoming serfs, trespassers, rebels, or fugitives.[22] This increased tensions between the Kumeyaay and the Mexican settlers as the economic instability threatened the security of Mexican and American merchants transiting through the area.

Centralist Republic of Mexico period

Under territorial governor José Figueroa, some of the Kumeyaay from Mission San Diego were allowed to resettle and establish San Pasqual pueblo in 1835, who would later become the San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians.[23] The Kumeyaay pueblo fought against hostile bands and protected Mexican settlers, with a decisive victory over an anti-Christian uprising and capturing its leader, Claudio.[24]

With conditions worsening, the Kumeyaay led an attack on Rancho Tecate in 1836, forcing the alcalde of San Diego to send an expedition to suppress the Kumeyaay, but returned unsuccessfully. Because of the failed venture, Mexico failed to adequately suppress talk of Californian secession from American settlers in northern Alta California.[21]

Further Kumeyaay raids on El Cajon (1836) and Rancho Jamul (1837) threatened the security of San Diego, as many residents of San Diego fled the city. The Kumeyaay were able to attack San Diego in the late 1830s. Kumeyaay advancements into Rancho Bernardo in the north and San Ysidro and Tijuana to the south at the end of the decade threatened to cut off San Diego from the rest of the Centralist Republic of Mexico. The Kumeyaay made preparations to lay siege on San Diego in the early 1840s and launched a second attack on San Diego in June 1842. However, San Diego managed to defend itself once more. While the siege failed, the Kumeyaay managed to control much of the south, east, and most of the north of the settlement, with the town becoming dependent on sea access maintain connections to the rest of Mexico. Together with Quechan resistance in the east, the Kumeyaay cut off Alta California of all land routes to the rest of the Mexican republic between the Colorado River and the Pacific Ocean up until the Mexican–American War, further threatening Mexican control of the southern Alta California coast. The Kumeyaay prevented Mexican usage of the ranchos around San Diego and evicted most of the Californios in the area by 1844, and continued launching raids deep into the Mexican controlled coast up until the start of the Mexican–American War.[21] The Mexican settlers became refugees on Point Loma as they waited for ships, hoping to evacuate from San Diego as Kumeyaay victories challenged their ability to hold the pueblo.[25]

Mexican-American War

Battle of San Pasqual, picturing the Kumeyaay pueblo

During the Mexican–American War, the Kumeyaay were initially neutral. The Kumeyaay of the San Pasqual pueblo were evacuated as the Americans approached the town. The Mexicans and the Californios were victorious over the Americans at the Battle of San Pasqual. A Kumeyaay leader, Panto, called on the Mexicans to cease hostilities with the Americans so that the Kumeyaay could tend to the wounded Americans, to which provided Panto and the San Pasqual Kumeyaay resupplied the Americans and helped ensure the American capture of the Pueblo de Los Ángeles and San Diego.[23][24]

Late modern era

After the Mexican–American War, Kumeyaay lands were split between the U.S. and Mexico through the Mexican Cession resulting from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Yuma War and California genocide

Further information: Yuma War and California genocide

In 1851, San Diego County unilaterally charged property taxes on Native American tribes in the county and threatened to confiscate land and property should they fail to pay up. This led to the San Diego Tax Rebellion of 1851 or "Garra's Revolt", with the destruction of Warner's Ranch led by the Cupeño, opening up a new western front of the Yuma War. The Kumeyaay agreed to join the revolt alongside Cahuilla, Cocopah, and Quechan warriors, but made no military commitments to attack San Diego or capture Fort Yuma.[26][27]

However, not all Kumeyaay bands fought on the same side of the Yuma war; the San Pasqual Band of Kumeyaay fought against the Quechan campaign to attack San Diego and defeated the Quechan in the San Pasqual Valley.[28]

The Kumeyaay withdrew from the war after the capitulation of the Cahuilla to the US and the failed attempt to capture Fort Yuma.

Compared to other California tribes, the Kumeyaay did not face the same magnitude of destruction and exploitation under the California genocide. This was due to the strategic positioning of the Kumeyaay and the lack of gold in the mountains. Additionally, Mexican officials in Baja California Territory threatened to intervene in the conflict if they committed any atrocities on tribes along the border, due to a mix of Mexican sympathies towards the Native Californians and a fear of refugees coming across the border.[29]

Establishment of Kumeyaay reservations in the U.S.

On January 7, 1852, representatives of a number of Kumeyaay clans, including Panto, met with Commissioner Oliver M. Wozencraft and negotiated the Treaty of Santa Ysabel. The agreement was part of the "18 Treaties" of California, negotiated to protect Indian land rights. After the 18 Treaties were completed, the documents were sent to the United States Senate for approval. Under pressure from white settlers and the California Senate delegation, the treaties were all rejected.[23]

From 1870 to 1910, American settlers seized lands, including arable and native gathering lands. In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant created reservations in the area, and additional lands were placed under trust patent status after the passage of the 1891 Act for the Relief of Mission Indians. The reservations tended to be small and lacked adequate water supplies.[30] The situation was made worse during the famine of 1880–1881, which forced many Kumeyaay to survive by accepting charity from whites, as they faced diseases, starvation and attacks from white settlers.[31]

Some Kumeyaay chose not to establish a reservation inland and sought work in San Diego, many of whom migrated to the Kumeyaay village in what is now Balboa Park led by the Florida Canyon Kumeyaay Band. The village experienced growth after receiving immigrants from other Kumeyaay bands as well as from other indigenous Californian and Bajeno tribes, who sought work in the city, transforming the village into a neighborhood integrated into the city fabric.[32] The village was then demolished in the early 1900s in preparation for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, displacing the residents of the village.

Kumeyaay were displaced to construct the El Capitan Reservoir

In 1932, the Coapan Kumeyaay living and farming on the San Diego River were removed to make way for the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir and relocated their inhabitants at the Barona Reservation and the Viejas Reservation, further cutting down the agricultural capacity of the Kumeyaay reservations.[20]

Kumeyaay in the Mexican Revolution (1910–1911)

During the Mexican Revolution, the Magonistas gained the support of the Kumeyaay with an enthusiastic base, particularly in the Tecate region; many Kumeyaay from both sides of the border were enticed by their anarcho-syndicalist message of indigenous liberation from the Mexican and American colonial nation-states starting with the end of the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship. The Kumeyaay supported the Magonistas as guides throughout the land, whose aid allowed them to control Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana during the Magonista rebellion of 1911.[33] However, the Kumeyaay did not participate in much of the active fighting in the Magonista Rebellion, and did not participate with Cocopah, Kiliwa, and Paipai tribes in raiding on small towns or looting Chinese-Mexican businesses in the region, and may have even smuggled Chinese-Mexican refugees to the American side of the border.[33] By the end of June, the rebellion was suppressed by the Madero administration.

After the revolution, the ban on Ejidos and other forms of communal living were lifted and the Kumeyaay were able to resume their traditional communal way of life legitimately with their communities in Valle de Las Palmas, Peña Blanca, and their five other reservations.[34]

Contemporary era

Kumeyaay-American economy and casino industry

Kumeyaay people supported themselves by farming and agricultural wage labor; however, a 20-year drought in the mid-20th century crippled the region's dry farming economy.[35] For their common welfare, several reservations in the US formed the non-profit Kumeyaay, Inc.[36]

Cuts in Native American welfare programs under the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations forced the reservation to find other means of income and capitalize on industries not possible off-reservation.[37]

Barona Resort Hotel

In 1982, the Barona Band won its case in Barona Group of the Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians v. Duffy (1982) to operate high-stakes bingo games, leading to the expansion of many Kumeyaay bingo operators into the casino industry. This helped establish Las Vegas-style gaming operations in the reservations in the region, evaporating reservation unemployment and poverty in a short time. In total, the Kumeyaay operate six casinos: Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino, Sycuan Resort and Casino, Viejas Casino & Resort, Valley View Casino and Hotel, Golden Acorn Casino and Travel Center, and Jamul Casino.[37]

In response to the casino construction boom, the San Diego County government maintained a policy of opposition to any growth in tribal expansion under any circumstance in fears that land would be used to build more casinos, which broke down relations between the County and the Kumeyaay, Payomkawichum (Luiseño), and Kuupangaxwichem (Cupeño) tribal reservation governments.[38] This San Diego County Board of Supervisors repealed these policies in May 2021.[39]

The relative success of gaming operations on many reservations has allowed them to buy naming rights of infrastructure around the San Diego region, such as the Sycuan Green Line of the San Diego Trolley and the SDSU Viejas Arena. Some reservations have also diversified their economic profile such as Campo Reservation-based Muht Hei inc which oversees the reservation's wind farm or Sycuan Band's acquisition of the U.S. Grant Hotel.[40][41] Additionally, Sycuan also became the first Native American tribe to own part of a professional soccer franchise by becoming the co-owner of San Diego FC, a Major League Soccer expansion team, and the second to have an ownership stake in any professional sports team.[42]

Kumeyaay-Mexican economy and the wine tourism industry

On the Mexican side of the border, Kumeyaay reservations manufacture traditional craftwork to sell on the American side of the border with partnering Kumeyaay souvenir gift shops and casinos.[43]

Many Kumeyaay there have moved into urban areas to seek better employment opportunities compared to their agrarian employment on the reservation. The depopulation of their reservations has allowed neighboring non-native Ejidos to encroach on their lands.[44]

Valle de Guadalupe, B.C.

The Kumeyaay reservations on the Mexican side of the border have largely retained their traditional heritage. Some reservations faced water shortages, making it difficult to continue agricultural operation. This led many communities to enter wine-tasting and tourism industries in the Guadalupe Valley.[45] Many bands began launching wine tours and festivals to attract tourists and foreign visitors from southern California and cruise passengers stopping at the Port of Ensenada.[34]

Kumeyaay and the US-Mexican border

Further information: Indigenous conflicts on the Mexico–United States barrier

In 1998, the Kumeyaay established the Kumeyaay Border task force to work with federal immigration officials to secure free passage of Baja Kumeyaay bands to visit the US Kumeyaay bands and ensure their rights to protected graves and artifacts protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.[20]

However, border wall construction accelerated in 2020 and Kumeyaay representatives at the border to protect and preserve Kumeyaay artifacts were turned away from the construction area. This sparked protests among the bands and Kumeyaay women organized to lead a protest at the border in July. The La Posta Band filed a lawsuit in August against the Trump administration seeking to block further construction of the border wall through their sacred cemetery (burial sites).[46]


Social structure

Kumeyaay items

Prior to Western assimilation, the Kumeyaay were organized into bands or clans called sibs or shiimull, which were grounded in family lineages with each sib home for 5 to 15 families. Each sib had their own territory and had the right to enforce land property rights in punishing thieves and trespassers. However, Kumeyaay did recognize the right to water and were also obligated to share food with visitors.[47]

The Kumeyaay had a patriarchal society where the position of chief, or Kwaapaay, was inherited from the father to son, although widows were sometimes permitted to assume the position. It was the Kwaapaay's role to protect traditions, hold ceremonies, and resolve disputes and was responsible for political, religious, and economic activities of the sib. Future Kwaapaays were often selected by a Kwaapaay of another with no family relations to ensure impartiality.[47]

Kwaapaays were also accompanied by assistants and had a council of Kuseyaays. Kuseyaays were made up of male or female priests, doctors, and other specialists in the fields of health, ecology, resource management, tradition, and religion. Kuseyaays could be called by the kwaapaay to provide information or to make decisions for the sib's welfare. Each family in the sib was allowed to follow and participate in the decision making, or could leave the sib and pursue their own decision.[47]

The Kumeyaay practiced arranged marriage made by parents of different sibs. The future husband was expected to demonstrate his ability to hunt and needed to present the future bride the game he had killed. The bride would move into the husband's sib once they were married. Marriage relations were also made between sibs and other neighboring tribal groups as a gesture of peace between warring groups or as part of a trade relationship.[48]


Frame of an ‘ewaa

Kumeyaay generally lived in dome-shaped homes made from branches and covered with leaves of willow or tule, called 'ewaa. These structures had a hole at the top to let smoke out and rocks along its base to keep out wind and small animals.[48] Some Kumeyaay who lived in the mountains made their home out of slabs of bark.[49]

These structures were often temporary. When families moved or if someone died in the house, they were often burned down.[48]


During warm seasons, men wore nothing except for a hide breechcloth to hold tools while women wore an apron or a skirt made from willow or elderberry bark. In the colder months, they would wear blankets made from willow bark or rabbit skins.

They wore agave sandals made from yucca and agave fibers when going over long distances, over sharp rocks, or hot sand. Some would wear bead necklaces as jewelry, with beads made of clam, abalone, or olivella shells. Additionally, men could get their nose pierced and women might have their chins tattooed.

The Kumeyaay started to abandon much of their traditional clothing after coming in contact with the Spanish, and adopted European-style clothing, wearing clothes that were normal in Latin America.[48]


Acorns were a staple of the Kumeyaay diet, and made acorn mush they called shawii, which could be used in dough to make bread by grinding with a mano and a metate. Other grains like pinon nuts or chia seeds were also stone-ground and consumed.[50] The Kumeyaay stored these grains in basket granaries made of willow leaves. They also consumed the leaves and fruits of the prickly pear and copal cactus, as well as cherries, plums, elderberries, and Manzanita berries.[citation needed] They also fermented many of these plants with water and honey to create alcohol.[51]

They hunted for animals such as birds, rabbits, squirrels, and woodrats, as well as larger animals like antelope, deer, and mountain sheep. The Kumeyaay also ate more nutrient-rich insects such as crickets, grubs and grasshoppers.[48]

Kamia Kumeyaay in the Imperial Valley practiced some forms of agriculture, producing maize, beans, and teparies. Like other Kumeyaay, though, they largely relied on gathering.[citation needed]

Economy and communication

Kumeyaay coiled basket, woven by Celestine Lachapa, 19th century, San Diego Museum of Us
Kumeyaay willow storage basket at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California cultural museum, Mexicali

The Ipai-Tipai Kumeyaay traded with the Kamia Kumeyaay to obtain obsidian from an area south of the Salton Sea. Within the Tipai-Ipai, the coastal Kumeyaay traded salt, seaweed, and abalone shells for acorns, agave, mesquite beans, and gourds from the mountain Kumeyaay. They also traded along the Pacific coast to obtain Olivella shell beads from the Chumash, as well as tribes along the Gulf of California and in the American Southwest as far east as to trade with the Zuni.[52] Granite was also plentiful in Kumeyaay lands, which was used to trade for pestles, steatite, eagle feathers, and colored minerals for paint.[citation needed]

The Kumeyaay's maritime economy relied on shell fishing, and they built fishing boats, either balsa rafts made of reeds or dugout canoes.[citation needed] To support their maritime economy, they manufactured fishing spears, hooks, and nets made of agave fiber.[48]

Upon Spanish arrival, woven baskets were highly prized by the Europeans, as these baskets were so well made that they could hold water and it was possible to cook food with these baskets in an open fire. The strong demand for Californian woven baskets in Mexican and European markets strengthened the basket weaving economy among the Kumeyaay.[53]

The Kumeyaay had a system of trail runners who carried messages and announcements between bands, which notified the presence of the Spaniards prior to Cabrillo's arrival in San Diego.[54]


The Kumeyaay used archery in order to hunt prey. The arrows were made of wood, reeds, or cane, as well as chamise or greasewood plant for larger animals. Bows were made of mesquite or ash, as well as animal hides. They also equipped with throwing sticks better known as rabbit sticks, which were used to knock out small animals and were sometimes used in war.[48]


The Kumeyaay has a continuous song and dance culture, of which many are still passed on to the next generation during special occasions. Occasions like the mourning of an important figure was honored by an Eagle Dance, and a War Dance accompanied those heading for battle. Men often sang songs with a rattle, while women supported the song through dance. Through the Mission, the Kumeyaay picked up skills in Western musical instruments, and joined the Mission choirs and orchestras.[48]

They also had animal companions and domesticated mockingbirds and roadrunners as pets.


See also: Mythologies of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Kumeyaay traditional narratives

One Kumeyaay creation story involves the original state of the world as being covered with salt water and tule, without land. The older brother Tuchaipa (also known as Tu-chai-pai, Tcaipakomat) and the younger twin brother Yokomatis (Yo-ko-mat-is) make the world. Tuchaipa rubs tobacco in his hand and blows it three times, causing the heavens to rise up and form the sky. He draws a line from east to west, named Y-nak and A-uk. He draws a line from north to south, named Ka-tulk and Ya-wak. He tells Yo-ko-mat-is that from the east three or four men are coming from the east, and from the east three or four Indians are coming, and he makes hills and valleys with hollows of water so the humans will not die of dehydration. He makes forests so humans will not die of cold. Then he makes humans out of mud, who can walk but never get tired, and tells them that they must walk to the east towards the light. When the humans reach the Sun, he makes the Moon, and tells the men they must run races when the Moon is small. Later, when there is less food and water, Tuchaipa calls together the men without the women and gives them three choices; to die forever; to live for a time and return; or to live forever. The men are divided over what to choose, and talk and talk without knowing what to do. Then the fly comes and says to choose to die forever, and so the men choose to be done with life and die forever. This is the reason why the fly rubs his hands together, to beg the forgiveness of humans. [55]

In another story, Tcaipakomat and Yokomatis have their eyes closed from the blinding salt water. Yokomatis tries to see atop the water, but opens his eyes and is blinded. Tcaipakomat goes on top of the water and sees nothing, so he makes little red ants (miskiluiw, ciracir) which fill the water with their bodies to make land. Then Tcaipakomat makes a type of black bird with a flat bill (xanyil) to come into being, but they were lost without their roosts, so Tcaipakomat takes red clay, yellow clay, and black clay to make a round flat object, and throws it into the sky to make a dimly-shining moon (halya). Tcaipakomat tries again with another piece of clay to make the brighter sun (inyau). Then he takes a light colored piece of clay (mutakwic), and splits it up, making a man, and the a woman (Sinyaxau, First Woman). The children of this man and this woman are people (ipai). [56]

Reservation era Kumeyaay institutions

The Kumeyaay Community College was created by the Sycuan Band to serve the Kumeyaay-Diegueño Nation, and describes its mission as "to support cultural identity, sovereignty, and self-determination while meeting the needs of native and non-native students". The college's focus is on "Kumeyaay History, Kumeyaay Ethnobotany and traditional Indigenous arts" It "serves and relies on resources from the thirteen reservations of the Kumeyaay Nation situated in San Diego county".[57] In the fall of 2016, Cuyamaca College began offering an associate degree in Kumeyaay Studies with courses at its Rancho San Diego campus, as well as at Kumeyaay Community College on the Sycuan reservation.[58]

The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming was also established at SDSU by the Sycuan Band with the focus on research and policy related to the tribal gaming industry.


Further information: Population of Native California

Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. In 1925, Alfred L. Kroeber proposed that the population of the Kumeyaay in the San Diego region in 1770 had been about 3,000.[59] More recently, Katharine Luomala points out that this estimate depended on calculations of rates of baptisms at the Mission, and as such "ignores the unbaptized". She suggests that the region could have supported 6,000–9,000 people.[60] Florence C. Shipek goes further, estimating 16,000–19,000 inhabitants.[61]

In the late eighteenth century, it is estimated that the Kumeyaay population was between 3,000 and 9,000.[1] In 1828, 1,711 Kumeyaay were recorded by the missions. The 1860 federal census recorded 1,571 Kumeyaay living in 24 villages.[60] The Bureau of Indian Affairs recorded 1,322 Kumeyaay in 1968, with 435 living on reservations.[60] By 1990, an estimated 1,200 lived on reservation lands, while 2,000 lived elsewhere.[1]

Tribes and reservations

Kumeyaay reservations and village communities
Reservation Language affiliation Location Associated Kumeyaay village(s) Population Federal recognition[62] Area in mi2 (km2)[63] Includes


Land Water Total
Inaja Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Inaja and Cosmit Reservation 'Iipay San Diego County Inyaha


15 1875 1.34 (3.48) 0 1.34 (3.48) no
Mesa Grande Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Mesa Grande Reservation 'Iipay San Diego County Tekemak


98 1875 2.73 (7.06) 0 2.73 (7.06) no
San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of California 'Iipay San Diego County Ahmukatlatl (Pueblo San Pasqual) 1,097 1910 2.24 (5.79) 0 2.24 (5.79) no
Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel (formerly Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Santa Ysabel Reservation) 'Iipay San Diego County Elcuanan (Santa Ysabel) 330 1893 23.42 (60.67) 0 23.42 (60.67) no
Laguna Indian Reservation (Kwaaymii Reservation) (defunct 1989)[64] 'Iipay San Diego County Inyahkai? Aha-Hakaik? 0 1947 (defunct) no
Campo Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Campo Indian Reservation Tiipay San Diego County Meelqsh G'tay 362 1893 25.76 (66.73) 0 25.76 (66.73) no
Capitan Grande Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of California Tiipay, 'Iipay San Diego County 'E-quilsch a-mahk (Cuyamac) 0 1875 24.88 (64.43) 0.00032 (0.00083) 24.88 (64.43) no
Barona Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Barona Reservation Tiipay, 'Iipay San Diego County 640 1875 9.31 (24.12) 0 9.31 (24.12) no
Viejas (Baron Long) Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Viejas Reservation Tiipay, 'Iipay San Diego County Matkwatay 520 1875 2.51 (6.50) 0 2.51 (6.50) no
Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians (formerly the Cuyapaipe Community of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Cuyapaipe Reservation) Tiipay San Diego County Ewiiaapaay 7 1893 8.55 (22.14) 0 8.55 (22.14) no
Jamul Indian Village of California Tiipay San Diego County Hamul 60 1975 0.023 (0.060) 0 0.023 (0.060) no
La Posta Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the La Posta Indian Reservation Tiipay San Diego County Amai'tu 55 1893 6.39 (16.56) 0 6.39 (16.56) no
Manzanita Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Manzanita Reservation Tiipay, Kamia San Diego County Snyaawkwatun 78 1893 7.17 (18.58) 0 7.17 (18.58) yes
Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Tiipay San Diego County Sekwan 211 1875 1.28 (3.31) 0 1.28 (3.31) yes
Village community Language affiliation Location Kumeyaay name Population Recognized communities in Mexico
Aguaje de la Tuna (Tecate) Tiipay Tecate Municipality Ha'samen 18 No
Juntas de Neji Tiipay Tecate Municipality Neji 25 Yes
Peña Blanca Tiipay Tecate Municipality 'Ui'hapal 2 No
San José de la Zorra Tiipay Playas de Rosarito Municipality

Ensenada Municipality

  • Mat Purjao
  • Iškišup?
77 Yes
La Huerta Tiipay Ensenada Municipality Axta 131 Yes
San Antonio Necua Tiipay Ensenada Municipality Eñekwa 204 Yes
Santa Catarina Tiipay, Kamia Ensenada Municipality 133 Yes


Present-day cities with Kumeyaay village origins

Other former villages in the US

In Tepacul Watai (City of San Diego in 'Iipay Kumeyaay):[66][67]

In the County of San Diego

In Imperial County

Other former villages in Mexico

In the Municipality of Tijuana[65]

In the Municipality of Tecate

In the Municipality of Mexicali

In the Municipality of Ensenada

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Pritzker 2000, p. 145.
  2. ^ "The Indians of San Diego County". Kumeyaay.com. Archived from the original on 2020-11-01. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  3. ^ Hoffman & Gamble 2006, p. 81.
  4. ^ Smith 2005, p. 12.
  5. ^ Langdon 1990, pp. 184–190.
  6. ^ Barfield, Chet (November 2, 2005). "Obituary: Margaret Langdon; linguist helped write first local Indian dictionary". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Luomala 1978, p. 594.
  8. ^ Pritzker 2000, p. 140.
  9. ^ Field 2012, p. 557.
  10. ^ Erlandson et al. 2010, p. 62.
  11. ^ "KUMEYAAY MAP 1776 Kumeyaay Territory, 2005 California Indian Reservations". Kumeyaay Information Village. Archived from the original on 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  12. ^ "A Glossary of Proper Names in California Prehistory". Society for California Archaeology. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  13. ^ "Native Americans". Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Kumeyaay of Southern California". Kumeyaay Information Village. Archived from the original on September 28, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Luomala 1978, p. 592.
  16. ^ Yagi, George (October 11, 2017). "The Battle for San Diego". HistoryNet. Archived from the original on September 29, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  17. ^ "Sociopolitical Aspects of the 1775 Revolt at Mission San Diego de Alcala". San Diego History Center. Archived from the original on August 12, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Naomi Sussman. “Indigenous Diplomacy and Spanish Mediation in the Lower Colorado-Gila River Region, 1771-1783.” Ethnohistory, vol. 66, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 329–52. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1215/00141801-7298819.
  19. ^ Gurling, Sara (November 22, 2018). "Give Thanks and Remember Your Cousins". Latino Rebels. Archived from the original on July 3, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d "Kumeyaay Timeline". Kumeyaay.com. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  21. ^ a b c Connolly, Mike. "Kumeyaay – The Mexican Period". Kumeyaay.com. Archived from the original on October 23, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  22. ^ Luomala 1978, p. 595.
  23. ^ a b c "History: 1769 - The Arrival of the Spaniards". SanPasqualBandofMissionIndians.org. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Farris, Glenn. "Captain Jose Panto and the San Pascual Indian Pueblo in San Diego County 1835-1878". San Diego History Center. Archived from the original on August 12, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  25. ^ Cruz, Debbie; Mohebbi, Emilyn; Ruth, Brooke (December 6, 2023). "Prosecuting overdose deaths as homicides". KPBS Public Media (Podcast). KPBS. Retrieved 2023-12-07.
  26. ^ "The Indian Tax Rebellion of 1851". HistoryNet. June 12, 2006. Archived from the original on May 17, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  27. ^ "San Diego History: Garra's Uprising". Los Angeles Times. August 10, 1992. Archived from the original on April 11, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  28. ^ "Kumeyaay Sense of the Land and Landscape". Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. Archived from the original on November 1, 2022. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  29. ^ Connolly, Mike. "Kumeyaay – California Genocide". Kumeyaay.com. Archived from the original on March 31, 2022. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  30. ^ Shipek 1978, p. 610.
  31. ^ Connolly, Mike. "The Kumeyaay Threat of 1860-1880". Kumeyaay.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2023. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  32. ^ "Jose Hatam Bio". American Indian Source. Archived from the original on 2021-07-25. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  33. ^ a b Muñoz 2012, pp. 30–31.
  34. ^ a b "Kumeyaay Land: Baja California's Endangered Rural Heritage". SohoSanDiego.org. Archived from the original on February 21, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  35. ^ Shipek 1978, p. 611.
  36. ^ Shipek 1978, p. 616.
  37. ^ a b Banegas, Ethan (Winter 2017). "Indian Gaming in the Kumeyaay Nation" (PDF). The Journal of San Diego History Center. 63 (1). San Diego History Center Quarterly. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-11-29. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  38. ^ Mapp, Lauren (April 3, 2021). "County may lift barriers to tribes expanding their reservations". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on April 8, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  39. ^ "San Diego County Supervisors repeal tribal policies". KGTV. May 6, 2021. Archived from the original on May 6, 2021. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  40. ^ "Campo Kumeyaay Nation | Muht Hei, Inc. | Kumeyaay Wind Farm". www.campo-nsn.gov. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  42. ^ Zeigler, Mark (May 18, 2023). "San Diego becomes Major League Soccer's 30th franchise in landmark moment for sport's hotbed". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  43. ^ "SAN ANTONIO NECUA Baja California Mexico Kumeyaay Indians Documentary Kumiai Photos Pictures". Kumeyaay Information Village. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  44. ^ "Juntas de Nejí". Kumeyaay.com. Archived from the original on March 17, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  45. ^ "Native Kumiai Finding a New Way - The Baja Storyteller". Baja Bound Insurance Services. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  46. ^ Srikrishnan, Maya (August 17, 2020). "Border Report: Kumeyaay Band Sues to Stop Border Wall Construction". Voice of San Diego. Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  47. ^ a b c Pico, Anthony. "The Kumeyaay Millennium - Land History". www.americanindiansource.com. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  48. ^ a b c d e f g h Bacich, Damian (November 13, 2019). "Native Americans of Southern California: The Kumeyaay". The California Frontier Project. Archived from the original on November 7, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  49. ^ Hoffman & Gamble 2006, p. 19.
  50. ^ Hoffman & Gamble 2006, p. 27.
  51. ^ "San Diego Brews". San Diego History Center. Archived from the original on September 22, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  52. ^ Hoffman & Gamble 2006, p. 21.
  53. ^ Hoffman & Gamble 2006, p. 29.
  54. ^ Hoffman & Gamble 2006, p. 39.
  55. ^ Du Bois, Constance Goddard. “The Mythology of the Diegueños.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 14, no. 54, 1901, pp. 181–85. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/533630. Accessed 26 May 2023.
  56. ^ "Decolonizing San Diego's History: An Iipay Reflection on the Context and Impact of 1769". San Diego History Center | San Diego, CA | Our City, Our Story. Archived from the original on 2023-05-26. Retrieved 2023-05-26.
  57. ^ "Kumeyaay Community College". Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  58. ^ Huard, Christine (August 15, 2016). "College expands Kumeyaay studies program". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  59. ^ Kroeber 1925, p. 88.
  60. ^ a b c Luomala 1978, p. 596.
  61. ^ Shipek 1986, p. 19.
  62. ^ "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs" (PDF). Notice 145A2100DD/A0T500000.000000/AAK3000000: Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services (Report). Federal Register. Vol. 80. Government Publishing Office. January 14, 2015. pp. 1942–1948. OCLC 1768512. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 9, 2015.
  63. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". Archived from the original on 1996-12-27. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  64. ^ Ray, Nancy (December 23, 1989). "Last Full-Blooded Kwaaymii Indian Dies at 87". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 24, 2020. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  65. ^ a b "bajacalifology.org - Kumeyaay Place Names". www.sandiegoarchaeology.org. Archived from the original on October 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  66. ^ Felix-Ibarra, Ana Patricia (2021-08-17). "Kumeyaay Placenames". ArcGIS StoryMaps. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  67. ^ "Kumeyaay Sense of the Land and Landscape - Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians". Archived from the original on 2022-11-01. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  68. ^ Carrico, Richard L. (Summer 1980). "San Diego Indians and the Federal Government Years of Neglect, 1850-1865". The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2011-12-20. Retrieved 2010-06-22.


Further reading