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Community Viewpoint: Map links Kumeyaay ancestors to Shores

By Daniel J. Tucker and Ricci LaBrake

San Diego’s Native American tribes have long been associated with East County, but many people may not realize the reach of the tribes has historically extended to the entire County, including the ocean waters off La Jolla.

A new piece of public art in La Jolla recognizes the rich, diverse heritage of the Kumeyaay nation. It is a 2,300-square-foot in-ground sculpture at Kellogg Park depicting the undersea life of the La Jolla Shores Underwater Park & Ecological Reserve.

The reserve, a protected waterway, is the final resting place for numerous artifacts of the Kumeyaay Nation. Generations of Kumeyaay incorporated the ocean and bays off San Diego’s coast into their lifestyle, using them to find sustenance and helping them travel to other regions where disparate bands of the far-flung Kumeyaay Nation had settled.

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That is why the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, on behalf of all 13 Kumeyaay Bands in San Diego County, believed it was so important to support “The Map,” the sculpture that was unveiled last month at Kellogg Park. The artwork will not only raise awareness and understanding of the ecological, geological, and cultural resources featured just offshore, but will also celebrate long-standing Kumeyaay traditions and promote preservation of Kumeyaay artifacts found along the ocean floor and surrounding areas. Those artifacts are now protected by federal and state laws, prohibiting their removal.

Sycuan hopes “The Map” will become a tool to help children and all people understand the rich culture along San Diego’s coast and its relation to the heritage of the Kumeyaay Nation.

Sycuan would like to thank those who made “The Map” possible, including the Institution of Oceanography, the Birch Aquarium, Wyland, Franko, the Kumeyaay/Digueno Land Conservancy, and numerous other individuals and groups.

Daniel J. Tucker is chairman and Ricci LaBrake, vice chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.