Acknowledging Our Native Community
San Diego REP would like to acknowledge that the Lyceum Theatre is built on the traditional lands of the Ipai-Tipai Kumeyaay Nation (pronounced Ee
-mee-eye), translated as “the people who overlook the ocean from the cliffs.” We also want to recognize their neighbors in the region, the Payómkawichum, Cahuilla, and Cupeño peoples (Pye-om
-yo). San Diego REP honors the over 20,000 current tribal members living in our area, and elevates local elders past, present, and future. We respectfully acknowledge these community members for their tremendous contributions to our region and thank them for their continued stewardship.
Map Credit to Paul Cannon
While there are currently over 200 tribes fighting for recognition from the US government, there are 567 federally recognized Tribal Nations (variously called tribes, nations, bands,
pueblos, communities and Native villages) in the United States. Of those, 109 are here, in California, with 19 federally recognized tribal communities residing within San Diego County, making our region the most tribally diverse county in the US. The US-Mexico border divides the traditional lands of the Kumeyaay Nation, also referred to as the Kumia (Koo
-mee-ah); their traditional lands extend into Baja California, Mexico.
Prior to European contact and colonization, Point Loma, Mission Bay, and Silver Strand were traditional gathering centers for all Kumeyaay. The San Diego River used to flow freely into "False Bay" as well as the San Diego Bay, which created a rich ecosystem of black mud and marsh. Here, the Kumeyaay Nation collected shellfish, hunted game, fished, and collected plants for medicinal and food purposes. Juan Reynoso-Waipuk (Why-poke
), Ipai-Kumeyaay from the San Pasqual Band of Kumeyaay Indians shared, “We would use Tule Boats to navigate the coast line and had many ceremonial offerings and celebrations with our Kumeyaay relatives outside the coastal region. Sadly, the development of Mission Bay Park in the early 1940s-1960's resulted in much of the original marsh being covered and developed on. There was even a short time where the region was said to have been used as a landfill. There is wide speculation that industrial waste was dumped in unlined landfill areas and to this day has never been remedied.”
Contemporarily, the ongoing governmental pressure of border enforcement and construction, which intensified during the Trump administration, continues to be a symbol of colonial settlerism. It separates Kumeyaay relatives across the US-Mexico border, making it more difficult for Kumeyaay/Kumia in Mexico to access ceremonial gatherings and sacred sites in the United States. Several Kumeyaay Activist groups, such as Kumeyaay Defense (IG @kumeyaaydefense), Warriors of Awareness Topics (found on Facebook), and Tipey Joa Native Warriors (Facebook), have been active in shedding light on these issues, continuing to challenge construction of the US border wall, and support their relatives both in the US and Mexico.
Today, the Kumeyaay Nation continues to maintain their political sovereignty and cultural traditions as vital members of our San Diego community. In Kumeyaay, there is no literal word for ‘nature’ separate from everything; instead, the word ‘Maat’ (Mutt
) means to “be from or come from the earth.” This demonstrates the cyclic experience and responsibility; spiritual and physical, that we as humans have for the earth. San Diego REP is grateful for the Kumeyaay Nation’s tremendous contributions to our region and thank them for their continued stewardship.
We hold that it is vital to honor the Kumeyaay legacy of stewardship and recognize the ongoing dedication and importance of Indigenous culture within our communities and within the land that we gather, live, learn and work on.
We understand that a land acknowledgment alone is not enough. It is merely a starting point. Therefore, San Diego REP is committed to the following actions towards building stronger ties with our local Native community, bolstering Indigenous visibility, creating public awareness of the history that has led to this moment, offering recognition and respect, and inspiring ongoing action:
- Support Indigenous artists through commissioning and developing new plays;
- Seek and program plays by Native American writers in our subscription season;
- Commission a permanent art piece by a local Native American artist for our lobby;
- Spotlight Native artists in our gallery space;
- Be in conversation with community leaders to find out how we can be of service;
- Serve as a collective space for our Native community;
- Support Indigenous-led grassroots change movements, education, and campaigns;
- Commit to being an anti-racist, multicultural organization overall.
To learn more about the Native people in our region, visit www.kumeyaay.com
, and check out the book: Mii Anmak Nyamak Kweyiwpo: Jwanya Kumiai Kuwak / Footsteps From the Past into the Future: Kumeyaay Stories of Baja California
, published by San Diego State University Press (2019).
To support Indigenous communities nationally, you can also check out the following resources: www.nativelikewater.org
, and www.culturalsurvival.org
Additionally, if you are unsure of whose land upon which you currently reside, we encourage you to visit www.native-land.ca
We are grateful to the local community members, activities, educators, and artists who assisted in the creation of this statement: Juan Reynoso-Waipuk, Sam Aros Mitchell, and Randy Reinholz.