By Rebekah Loveless and Brandon Linton, ‘Ilpay (Kumeyaay)/Cupa, Renascence
Prior to the Mission era, San Diego’s indigenous people, the Kumeyaay, inhabited the coasts, valleys, mountains, and deserts of California and Baja. While many have historically been confined to reservations, cut off by borders, forced into assimilation, or found other means of survival, their connection and love of their homeland has gone unchanged since the birth of time. Fortunately, the Kumeyaay are resilient and remain in their unceded homeland. With their presence, community, and partnership, we have the opportunity to salvage and restore a small portion of the original wetland in Mission Bay and revitalize historic Native American land.
Through the De Anza area, the City has before them an opportunity for restoration of our depleted wetlands. Restoration of our capacity to enjoy our natural resources. Restoration of natural habitat for wildlife and plant life, and restoration of space for the original inhabitants to reestablish their connection with their native Kumeyaay land and have equitable access.
Our elected officials have the unique chance to design and support a model project that puts San Diegans first and protects Kumeyaay land. This project will create a space that allows for all inhabitants and visitors alike to enjoy the natural beauty of a functioning wetland and the cultural education brought in by shining a light on the importance of Kumeyaay traditional knowledge through land-management opportunities of historic San Diego native land. The possibilities are endless.
Those of us with intimate knowledge of the San Diego landscape would love to see the wetlands restored, the natural harmony of man and earth restored, access for Kumeyaay to gather cultural resources and to gather as a people restored. The Wildest plan allows accessibility to all life forms that inhabit San Diego native land, including birds, mollusks, plants, and people. Imagine a place of cultural engagement, healing, and a feeling of welcomeness to all. Not only do we create a place of healing, but also a chance for ecotourism, sustainability, and a chance for us to define who we are to the world as a city and community. If done with the focus of inclusion, this plan could create a legacy of sustainable mixed use.
Photos courtesy of Roy Little and others