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Kumeyaay: Native Californians

This ongoing exhibit is now open to the public.

The Kumeyaay, or Diegueño (as they were later called by the Spanish), are the Native American people of present-day Southern California (San Diego and western Imperial Counties) and Northern Baja. For many generations before the arrival of the Spanish, they occupied the deserts, mountains, and coasts, developing sophisticated means of adapting to the diverse environments.

With the arrival of Spanish settlers in the mid 1700s, Kumeyaay lifeways had to change and adapt, often by force. Today, the Kumeyaay are present in thirteen bands located on reservations throughout San Diego County, with four additional bands in present day Baja, Mexico:

  • Campo Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
  • Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
  • Barona Band of Mission Indians
  • San Pasqual Band of Indians
  • Inaja Cosmit Indian Reservation
  • Capitan Grande Indian Reservation
  • Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueño Indians, aka Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel
  • Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians aka Cuyapaipe
  • Manzanita Indian Reservation
  • La Posta Indian Reservation
  • Jamul Indian Village A Kumeyaay Nation
  • Mesa Grande Indian Reservation
  • Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation

In Baja, Mexico: La Huerta, Juntas de Nejí, San Antonio Necua, and San José de la Zorra

The exhibit explores traditional Kumeyaay lifeways, featuring the art of pottery and basket making, food procurement, dress and adornment, traditional medicine, games, and ceremonies. Artifacts and photographs from the museum’s collection highlight the rich cultural heritage of the Kumeyaay, offering a glimpse of the life of the ancestors of today’s present day people. The exhibit remains popular with school groups from throughout the county.

READ MORE: Spotlight on the Kumeyaay