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Sycuan Cultural Museum Opens In January

A collection of Kumeyaay baskets displayed at the new cultural museum in El Cajon.
Courtesy of Sycuan Casino
A collection of Kumeyaay baskets displayed at the new cultural museum in El Cajon.
Sycuan Cultural Museum Opens In January
Sycuan Cultural Museum Opens In January GUEST: Cody Martinez, chairman, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation

The site of the ancient village of Matamo is now the location of the new Sycuan cultural research Center and Museum. The museum brings together a number of Kumeyaay artifact collections and a culturally significant site in the Valley near the Sycuan casino complex. Joni me is Cody Martinez. This new museum brings together a large amount of artifacts. Give us an idea of the kinds of artifacts and information that are housed in the museum. The current collection makes up about three different separate collections. The first was beginning with a well-known anthropologists that makes up most of the resource Center which is actually a research library. That was comprised of a lot of her fieldnotes, a number of books, a lot of California Native American specific research material. And also a private collection of baskets and thing she comprise. She actually left that to the Kumeyaay nation as a whole but in care of Sycuan at the time. So a lot of the stuff we have had for a number of years has been really in storage. We have not had a facility to showcase a lot of the material. Than a second larger collection of basketry is from a Walberg collection. A known family here. One of the most recent collections we were able to acquire was from a housing development off as Chase Avenue. In El Cajon. Thousands of artifacts came from that site. I was very surprised by the quality and amount of artifacts that came from that site. When you're talking about artifacts, what exactly are they? You will see a number of arrowhead points. Hundreds of them in various sizes, shapes and quality. All of them in very good condition. He will also see a number of items used for food preparation. Grinding [ INDISCERNIBLE ] and things like that. There was also a number of jewelry pieces. Beadwork. It was very interesting. Why you think it's important to have a centralized location for all of these various artifacts and information about the Kumeyaay nation quick The nation is spread over 13 bands from Sycuan and [ INDISCERNIBLE ] been closest to the urban area all the way to the eastern edges of the county. It is spread over an area traveling from tribe to tribe, being able to bring the nation together is very important. Sycuan is centrally located. It made sense to not only have a display area as far as the historical items, but a gathering place, classroom space. Because the property also hosts the Kumeyaay community college headquarters. Talk about the significance of the location itself. The location is specifically the village of Matamo. It is a prehistoric village site that was identified in early 1920s. Most of it was destroyed during the development of the actual tennis club site itself which came along in the mid-70s. The original golf course property was developed in the mid-1950s. So the tribe acquired the golf course in early 2000 I believe. It basically continue to operate as a tennis club for 30 years or more. Dwindling membership. The building fell into a state of disrepair. The tribe made a difficult decision to close the tennis operation because it had been there for over 30 years. When you talk about the agent village of Matamo, one of the most important items on display is a timeline of the Kumeyaay people how many years does that encompass. The timeline talks about pre-contact. It is a look into the daily life of Native Americans and what we call a free and independent existence before European context, which occurred in the mid-1500s. So the timeline talks about the creative -- the creation story. And has a visual of water and earth and sunlight. It talks about some of those pieces of the Kumeyaay creation story and immediately jumps into Spanish contact , European contact and going from a Spanish Mexican American period all the way up to modern day. There's over 60 different specific historical points that are able to tell the story. Is not exactly happy story, the majority of it is a lot of trials and tribulations of the nation. Because a lot of people don't remember that by the time the Civil War and the Indian wars were happening in the 1860s era, the Kumeyaay had already been in European contact for over 100 years. You mentioned water in the creation story. The protest by the Standing Rock and North Dakota has brought Native American heritage into the headlines this year. Do you see that event empowering Native American culture across the nation's? I do because it is a common trait of Native American culture and awareness is to protect mother Earth, to protect where things come from. Native Americans are always taught when -- whenever you harvest, take white sage for example or anything from the land, you are supposed to acknowledge that that is coming -- you give a prayer to your ancestors to thank for taking that. It seems very simple and in some ways if I were to tell that to my eight-year-old son he would maybe laugh a little bit. But you have to give them the understanding that simple things matter. So I think protecting the land, protecting resources with the engagement of Native Americans across the country via social media, it was able to bring a lot of people together. When is this news -- name is you see am open to the public? We're looking to get moving January 3. Open daily from 10 AM through 4 PM Monday through Friday. 10 AM through 2 PM on Saturday. Closed on Sundays at this point. Sycuan has hosted a number of local schools and youth educational programs throughout the East County. They been coming out to the reservation. We have had a village site that was re-created a few years ago near Willow Lake. We will be moving that site and doing a prehistoric the creation of the village site at the new cultural center. We're looking forward to hosting a number of local schools. We will bring them into a classroom environment, give them a classroom style lesson on the Kumeyaay people and take them outside and be able to get their hands dirty and engage and really get them submerged in pre-contact culture. I've been speaking with the tribal chairman Cody Martinez. Thank you for coming and speaking with us.

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation will open a museum in El Cajon in January to highlight the culture and history behind some of San Diego’s first inhabitants.

The museum, located on a prehistoric site known as the Kumeyaay Village of Matamo near the Sycuan Casino complex, features hundreds of Kumeyaay artifacts, an archive collection of oral histories and textual records, and educational materials, including a wall-length timeline outlining more than 12,000 years of Kumeyaay history.

“The Sycuan Tribe is extremely proud to open to the public our new Cultural Resource Center and Museum,” stated tribal Chairman Cody Martinez in a press release.

“The history and spirit of the village of Matamo courses through and infuses the facility, exhibits and programs that will be offered here. We encourage all Native Americans -- and all San Diegans -- to visit and learn about Kumeyaay history and culture through viewing of these ancient artifacts, accessing a comprehensive collection of scholarly research, and enjoying programs and services that will foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich Kumeyaay culture.”

The Kumeyaay Nation is spread over 13 bands in San Diego County.

The museum is scheduled to open weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, starting next month.

Martinez discusses the role of the museum in the preservation of the Kumeyaay culture Tuesday on Midday Edition.