Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretative Center, Poway, CA

 The Kumeyaay-Ipai Center is a small site with a lot to offer.  I went to a docent-led tour yesterday.  It was a fascinating introduction to the history of Kumeyaay people and the ethnobotany of the area.  The focus of the talk was how the Kumeyaay (the native people of San Diego County) used their environment to make a living, taking full advantage of the plant and animal resources.  Our guide had had some personal experiences with things like preparing acorns to eat (a lot of work) and trying to dig up agave roots (also a lot of work).  The Kumeyaay used dozens of plants for food, medicine, housing, for ceremonial purposes and to make life pleasant for themselves.  They migrated seasonally from the coast for fishing to the mountains for harvesting the best acorns and into the desert.

Poway used to part of this migration and there were at least five seasonal villages.  The Center has a short walking trail with guides to the local plants.  Most interesting is a large rock with deep grinding holes and metates that show centuries of use.  There is also a rock fireplace.  Although the site is atop of very small hill, it offers a great 360 degree view of the valley.  The site also includes reproductions of the shelters the Kumeyaay would have made.  

The Center has some nice artifacts, such as willow and tule baskets, bows, spears with an atlatl and much more.  The Center is open on the third Saturday of each month.  The site and museum are nice for a self-guided tour, but I highly recommend a tour with a docent.  I particularly wanted to learn to identify lemonadeberry shrubs and I got a good picture. 

The Kumeyaay continue to live in San Diego County, but were displaced and their migratory life way destroyed.  They live in bands in the eastern part of the County and many, such as the Barona and Sycuan operate casinos on tribal lands.

                                                        This is about a foot deep

                                                        Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia)
                                            A rock with images of a sea turtle, whale and dolphin
                                                            Many "morteros" for grinding
                                                        A temporary shelter used seasonally


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