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Education

Cuyamaca College To Launch Associate's Degree In Kumeyaay Studies

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Cuyamaca College plans to launch an associate's degree program in Kumeyaay studies this fall and become one of the first community colleges in the state to offer a degree program focusing on the language, culture and history of a specific Native American group.

The program is a step up from the current certificate in Kumeyaay studies offered by Cuyamaca and will draw from the sciences, humanities, world languages and history departments, according to the college.

"Cuyamaca College has a long history of working with and learning from the Kumeyaay nation, and we are proud to launch this new associate of arts degree program to our students and to the community," college President Julianna Barnes said.

The Kumeyaay, whom scholars say have lived in the area for some 12,000 years, are native to a region stretching roughly from the Pacific Ocean east to the Colorado River, and from Oceanside south to Ensenada.

Today, the Kumeyaay make their home on 13 federally recognized reservations, including Barona, Viejas, Campo, Ewiiaapaayp, Jamul, Inaja- Cosmit, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, San Pasqual and Sycuan.

Officials at the East County school said several community colleges in the state offer associate's degrees in American Indian Studies, but they believe Cuyamaca's will be the first to offer such a program in the study of a particular tribe.

Required courses will include Kumeyaay history, arts and culture, ethno-ecology, ethno-botany and language.

College officials said students who complete the program will be able to communicate in the Kumeyaay language at a basic level; have an understanding of the people's heritage, history, society and traditions; and gain sensitivity and cultural competence of a unique group of people.

The school's name comes from a Kumeyaay phrase that can be translated to mean "behind the clouds," "above the rains" and "the place where the rains come from the heavens."

Courses will be held at both Cuyamaca and Kumeyaay Community College on the Sycuan reservation near El Cajon.

Students with questions about the program are asked to email Teresa Greenhalgh at Teresa.greenhalgh@gcccd.edu.