Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 15, 2002 - Issue 63


pictograph divider


Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center Opens

by Jamie Francisco North County Times
credits Don Boomer/Staff Photographer

POWAY, CA - Ceremonial songs detailing the connection between past, present and future were used to celebrate the dedication of the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center on Saturday.

The event drew nearly 60 people, including Assemblywoman Christine Zettel, R-Poway and Poway City Council members Betty Rexford and Bob Emery, who supported the project. The 5-acre site offers a glimpse into the lives of the Kumeyaay-Ipai Indians, the original settlers of Poway. Poway is an anglicized pronunciation of Pauwai, an Indian name.

Eagle Scout troops and volunteers have built trails, planted vegetation and constructed Kumeyaay houses of willow branches and tule reeds at the center to recreate a landscape resembling the Pauwai Valley at the time the Kumeyaay roamed the land. Hundreds of tribal members lived off the land until the 1900s.

Community members should be applauded for pooling their efforts to move forward with the center, especially since the state was unable to contribute funding for the project, Zettel said. In 2000, the Poway City Council reached an agreement with the San Pasqual band of Mission Indians, the nearest Kumeyaay tribal members, to open the center. City officials contributed $15,000 in March toward the project. The cost of the project, including an interpretive center still to be built, is expected to cost at least $3 million.

"Most of San Diego was the homeland of the Kumeyaay Indians," Zettel said. "They were custodians of the land here and I think it's important for us to appreciate our past."

During the dedication ceremony, Councilman Emery described how volunteers helped transform the 5-acre site from a gathering place for deviants to a historical site. Councilwoman Rexford said the dedication ceremony topped a longtime effort to honor the history of the Kumeyaay Indians.

"This is a day we were looking forward to," Rexford said.

Eamon Kavanagh, a Poway resident and archaeology expert who is credited with spearheading the effort to open the center, said the center will illustrate the similarities between the Kumeyaay way of life and today's society.

"The people of yesterday are very similar to what we are today," Kavanaugh said.

About 15 members from the San Pasqual tribe attended the opening. Tribal leader Allen Lawson said the center preserves the tribe's history by offering a real-life representation of their past.

"You have the Declaration of Independence in Washington, DC, that preserves the history of the United States. Our history is this," he said, gesturing to the land. "We have a history of where we lived."

The opening of the center signifies an opportunity to create a bridge between Indian culture and the history of Poway, said tribal member Kristie Orosco.

"To know your culture is to know yourself," Orosco said. "This is out of respect for my group and my ancestors. There's a lot to be learned from places like these."

Poway resident Christy Koppisch said she hopes the center teaches her 2-year-old son and other local children to respect other cultures and appreciate the history of the people who once inhabited the area.

"We just want them to have an understanding of history as it was truly lived," Koppisch said.

As the Indian Bird Singers from the San Pasqual band of Mission Indians wrapped up their songs, they invited visitors to join them in their dance. Nearly 40 people gathered around Ray Belardes and the other four singers, as they closed their eyes and sang of sunrises, sunsets and nighttime journeys through life.

"These blessings are for this place, for the people who believed in our center and to our ancestors because they're the ones who cared for the land and are going to care for us for generations," Belardes said.

Poway, CA Map
Maps by Travel

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota Logo


Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You