Since 2019, California has proclaimed the second Monday in October to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In his proclamation, Governor Newsom said, “Today we celebrate the Indigenous peoples who call California home and who have survived and thrived in the face of unimaginable challenges to shape California’s past, present and future.”
Old Town San Diego was proud to welcome Iipay-Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok [Land of the First People] to OTSD State Historic Park in October 2021. Once the site of CalTrans headquarters, the site was dramatically improved to create the new parkland. The project included the following improvements:
- Interpretive elements, such as a Native American interpretive public gathering area for events and ceremonies, trilingual displays (Kumeyaay, Spanish and English) and art features
- Lighting and seating
- Landscaping, including native trees, ground cover and a dry riverbed
- Enhanced pedestrian circulation system with stabilized accessible pathways
- Shaded structures
“We stand upon thousands of generations of Kumeyaay footsteps, in honor and respect to that history and the ancient values they passed down to us. We celebrate the dedication of this tranquil, welcoming space where our Ancestors lived, loved, died and wrote our history in the land,” said Chairman of the Kumeyaay Dieguiño Land Conservancy Johnny Eagle-Spirit Elliott.
To develop the interpretive elements, State Parks worked with the Kumeyaay Nation, who established the Old Town Working Group with representatives from the Kumeyaay Diegueño Land Conservancy, Kumeyaay Heritage Preservation Committee, and Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee, and tribal members from the Barona, Campo, Jamul, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, San Pasqual, Sycuan and Viejas bands of the Kumeyaay Nation. The Old Town Working Group was instrumental in providing an opportunity for the Kumeyaay Nation to interpret their culture and their connections to the San Diego River and Old Town San Diego.