The Kumeyaay

History of the Kumeyaay Indians

The Kumeyaay and their ancestors  have lived on the Baja-California border at least 10,000 years in accordance with a recent excavation near Jacumba. Their descendants are probably the Yuman speaking Tipai. The striking red, black and white pictographs were painted in caves and on rocks along the southern California border, up the Gila River and along the Colorado River, ranging from the lower Grand Canyon to the Sea of Cortez. This tradition of ancient art is called La Rumorosa, after a site in northeastern Baja, Mexico.

The Kumeyaay Indians Today

There are twelve surviving North American Kumeyaay bands in the United States that are recognized by the federal government as sovereign tribal governments. Four Kumeyaay tribal communities survive south of the border in Baja California, Mexico.

Some of the more successful tribal ventures are the San Diego County Kumeyaay Indian casinos, resorts, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and golf courses.

Movie of Rock Art at Echo Rock in the In Ko Pah Mountains

This movie shows some of the rock art at Echo Rock in the In Ko Pah Mountains. This very isolated rock shelter is unique in all of the Southwest. Nowhere else are there two orange beings and lots of accompanying rock art pertaining to the heavens and cosmology of the Kumeyaay Native Americans. When we go to one of the more than 200 La Rumorosa rock art sites, this is what we see and this remarkable short film will let you experience perhaps the finest rock art in the San Diego region. If you want more, please purchase one of our books. Your support goes directly to Kumeyaay education.

Don Liponi

In the deepest part of Wikwip also known as Echo Rock looking out into the ordinary world.  In this darkened chamber is where the shaman artist sat painting his vision in a metaphoric painting. These symbols may have preceded the European invasion of Kumeyaay land and the genocide that followed. Here, in a vision of the spiritual world, a holy person sought guidance and wisdom, then to honor the experience painted what we see here.

Don Liponi

Basketry of the Mission Indians

A photo from 1924 by Edward S. Curtis from The North American Indian (1907-1930) v.15, Southern California Shoshoneans. The Dieguenos Plateau Shoshoneans. The Washo ([Seattle] : E.S. Curtis ; [Cambridge, Mass. : The University Press], 1926), plate no. 509


Kumeyaay Bands of the United States

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

The Baja California, Mexico, Kumiai Bands

  • San Jose de la Zorra
  • La Huerta
  • Juntas de Neji
  • San Antonio Necua
  • Santa Catarina (Kumeyaay-Pai Pai)

Campo reservation is only a few miles from the Mexican boundary.

A photo from 1924 by Edward S. Curtis from The North American Indian (1907-1930) v.15, Southern California Shoshoneans. The Dieguenos Plateau Shoshoneans. The Washo ([Seattle] : E.S. Curtis ; [Cambridge, Mass. : The University Press], 1926), plate no. 525

So you understand Shamanistic Rock Art? You do? Then what do you see here portrayed from another one of many Malcolm Roger's sites in Arizona Kofa's Wilderness. The Kumeyaay lived on this land. A beautiful area with water and mountains; plants to eat or grow along the banks of the Colorado River. The many tinajas drew larger desert game animals in. So what is the main defining characteristic of Northern Shamanism? It is Trance or Altered States of Consciousness [ASC] where the shaman enters into another stream of reality. People who have taken LSD or Psilocybin will know what I am talking about. Hallucinogens or more appropriately called Entheogens, when taken for Spiritual purposes is that amazing visual and cognitive sources of information are encountered from normally supressed areas of the brain. Here in ASC one "trips" of travels to another world and there one meets a guide. Our term for them is "Spirit Helpers". These guides can be a person, an animal or a combination of both called a therianthrope. The shaman is then guided and often feels like they are flying above the landscape. The guide takes them to a placed where they are able to see there problems in a new light. A new source of wisdom to see one's problems and unresolved conflicts by accessing knowledge that was not previously available to them. In this way the shaman was able to bring wisdom to his group. You might say, well that is just a drug trip. Maybe, the drug took you to this place, but what you envisioned and what you learned was in your own mind. Bob Marley once said, who many believe was a wise shaman or prophet - "Herb reveals yourself to you". This is what he was talking about. Is it any wonder that the Native Americans were impressed with Bob as they are with any spiritual person. This is the heart of shamanism. So how does that help us with our painting here? A normal man walks [trips] towards his guide - a Lizard Man or half man and half animal. When he meets the guide, he has a conversion from the physical to the ethereal, and becomes the white floating figure you see between the two. This may not be the only explanation, but one fully compatible with Trance Vision and Cognitive Alterations. What do you think? This is one slide from my upcoming presentation were we can discuss these pictographs and manty others. ...
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We are giving a new presentation on August 6th at 7pm PCT on shamanism and how it relates to La Rumorosa rock art. This presentation is sponsored by the Sierra Club of San Diego. Each time I give a talk to the Sierra Club I learn a lot. John Muir once said it is not enough to know, you have to act. That is what they do and it makes for an informative interaction. Everyone is welcome, there is no charge. You go to their Facebook Page as the grows near and you will see an announcement. Their Face Book page is: [] If you are reading this page then you know La Rumorosa is the dominant rock art style of southern California and northern Baja California and is attributed to the Kumeyaay Native Americans who lived here in harmony with ecosystem for more than 10,000 years and perhaps much longer. We only have archaeology back that far. They practiced a form of spirituality which is still in use today in this area. Shamanism has been with us for 50-70,000 years and is thought to have originated with the San people who are still alive in Southern Africa. There is evidence of ritual going back [in archaeological evidence] for 70,000 years at a site in Botswana. In any case, it was an effective form of spirituality. Our Native American shaman have given an abundance of proof that they can bend reality. It is not fiction or fakery. Think about a “religious” system that has endured for 35 times the duration of Christianity or 12 times that of Judaism. Would people have followed that if it was not effective. Survival without modern technology was much more difficult. It worked. We will talk about these things. For more on La Rumorosa – take a look at our book site: [], or our books. We have a few left if you want one. See you there. Below is a deep cave more than 100 feet below the surface of the ground in Yuman territory (the Kumeyaay are in the Yuman language family). Below the earth these multicolored images portray spiritual flight by having avian characteristics like bird feet and wings. Some forms are human and some other worldly. This is a metaphor we see in La Rumorosa called binary or twin beings. The shaman’s spiritual self. We call this the God within. ...
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