Banner graphic for the exhibition entitled 'Kumeyaay: Native Californians Iipai-Tipai'

About the Exhibit

The Museum of Us recognizes that it sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation. The Museum extends its respect and gratitude to the Kumeyaay peoples who have lived here for millennia. They continue to care for and maintain connection to this ancestral homeland.

The Kumeyaay Nation maintains their political sovereignty, governance, and cultural traditions. The Kumeyaay Nation is a culturally vibrant Indigenous community full of dedicated artists, educators, professionals, innovators, leaders, athletes, culture bearers, parents, and caregivers.

Tradition, culture, and family are at the heart of Kumeyaay peoples’ way of life. It is through this pathway, that the Kumeyaay community celebrates their resilience, honors their ancestors, and strengthens the path for future generations.

The Kumeyaay Peoples are the Indigenous peoples of present-day Southern California (San Diego and western Imperial Counties) and Northern Baja California. For many generations before the arrival of the Spanish, they have 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 were forced to change. Today the Kumeyaay Peoples are present in thirteen bands located on reservations throughout San Diego County, and four additional bands in present-day Baja California, Mexico:

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

In Baja California, Mexico:

La Huerta
Juntas de Nejí
San Antonio Necua
San José de la Zorra

The exhibit features content on traditional and contemporary Kumeyaay lifeways, including the art of pottery and basket making, food procurement, dress and adornment, traditional medicine, games, and ceremonies. Cultural resources highlight the rich cultural heritage and living traditions of the Kumeyaay Peoples.

Kumeyaay Cosmology Dome

What do you see when you gaze up at the night sky? Do you look for familiar shapes in the stars like Orion’s Belt or the Big Dipper? What do the Kumeyaay Peoples see when they look at the stars?

For generations, the Kumeyaay Peoples have studied the night sky, developing a deeply-rooted cosmological belief system that centers on the Kumeyaay Mat’taam (calendar year), My Uuyow (sky knowledge), and constellation map.

This extension of the main exhibit gallery explores the traditions and meanings of these cosmological beliefs, like how the Kumeyaay Peoples have different names and forms for constellations than those given to them by Europeans.

When the Kumeyaay Peoples spot Orion’s Belt or the Big Dipper, they actually see the constellations ‘Emuu (Mountain Sheep) and Selq Hatun (Arm).

They also see Kwellyap Ketull (North Star) at the center of the night sky, keeping watch over all human activities, surrounded by Hutcha (6 Laughing Girls) and Shaii (Buzzard), Hechkulk (Wolf) and Nemuuly (Bear), and Awii (Rattlesnake), the conveyor of punishment for improper deeds.

See if you can spot these constellations and many others on the exhibit’s giant constellation map – or better yet, the next time you’re looking up at the night sky!

Exhibit Images

Title wall of the exhibit featuring a large pot before an animated natural landscape with text that reads, "Kumeyaay: Native Californians - Iipai-Tipai"


Thank you to our community!

This exhibit – the first-ever museum exhibit about Kumeyaay astronomy – was developed by curator and Kumeyaay scholar, Michael Connolly Miskwish, and Mataam Naka Shin, the San Diego-Panama Exposition Centennial Intertribal Committee.

The Museum of Us recognizes that it sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation. The Museum extends its respect and gratitude to the Kumeyaay peoples who have lived here for millennia.

The Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Affiliations & Memberships:San Diego Museum Council logoCharity Navigator Four Star Charity logoBalboa Park Cultural Partnership Collaborative for Arts, Science and Culture logoAmerican Alliance of Museums logoSmithsonian Affiliate logoInternational Coalition of Sites of Conscience logo
Financial support provided by:San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture logo
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