KPBS’ ‘Historic Places’ Explores First People Of The Kumeyaay Nation
Speaker 1: 00:00 The 10th season of the KPBS series, historic places with Elsa Saviah just wrapped up this season. The series corrected the historical record of the first people of the Kumiai nation and how San Diego came to be 250 years ago. A culture very much alive was revealed. Here's a clip from episode one of historic places featuring Stan Rodriguez of the Senate Isabelle tribe. Speaker 2: 00:24 It was still a vast majority of Coolni high who carried on in their own native traditions. And to this day there are still [inaudible] who carry on it, the traditional culture of religion. They're singers, there's people who dance, there's people who still speak the language Speaker 1: 00:43 host Elsa Savia joined us to share more about her experience making the show. Elsa, welcome. Thank you for having me. You are 10 seasons in and the first episode you explore who the first people of the Kumiai nation in southern, in Baja, California, Mexico are, uh, and how long they've been in the region. Tell me about why you wanted to tell their story. A lot of people don't even know about the [inaudible] people. And that's why, um, it's important to tell their history. They've been in the region, uh, for 12,000 years and beyond. And we say beyond, because it could be longer. Many people believe that they've been here from the very beginning. And so to think of that and put that in perspective, it just, you know, it's, it's Kinda hard to think about because we don't know. So that was important for me to tell people their history and the fact that they'd been here for so long. Speaker 1: 01:35 And when you put that into perspective, just the last 250 years is really just a blip in history. Um, exactly. You know, but still the Kumi I have survived even outside of the, the European influences. What's been key for them in doing so, what they've told me is that they banded together. They've preserved as best as possible, their language, their Birdsongs, their traditions, their foods. Um, they have so much knowledge of science, of medicine, of astrology, of, uh, trading within the different, uh, shambles. The communities before the influences arrive. And they have incredible knowledge about ethnobotany. So talking to them, it's just I, it just incredible to learn so much knowledge from them. I wonder how does the Kumiai People's perspective of history about the encounter with Europeans and the missions differ from what's been taught in schools and even celebrated. Yeah. And you know what, um, they want to tell their history from their perspective and it's because, you know, we find that when we're telling history, everybody has a different point of view, right? Speaker 1: 02:42 It depends what that person experience and that's how they're going to view history. And so a lot of their history has not been told. Um, they also feel that a lot of the mission side, the, the religion, the Catholic religion, the Spanish and the mission history has been told over a thousand times and it's only in the history books. Their history is not as elaborated in the history books. And that's one of the reasons that they really wanted to work with us and tell their history. And in episode three, you talk about why some call Presidio hill near Old Town San Diego's last city or the Machu Picchu of San Diego. What's the history there? Well, that's an incredible area. There's so much history that has been buried. Um, what happened during the span or the Mexican period? The uh, mission of course was abandoned. The missions were secularized, but then during the Mexican period, that's when the missions were abandoned and that's what happened at Procedural Hill. Speaker 1: 03:42 People don't know the extent of the buildings that were erected were founded and built by the indigenous people. A lot of them from Baja, but also a lot of the Kumiai people built all that. They did the hard labor, they did the hard work and you know, some other really, um, awful things happen to them. Uh, as we mentioned in the series, they had to, you know, go through whipping floggings. Um, and there was forced labor. That's how they see it. That they couldn't leave the missions once they were baptized and the company, I didn't understand that that was all foreign to them. And so to know that they couldn't leave the mission and, uh, they had to work and that they couldn't go back to their, um, villages. And so a lot of that is part of that history that people don't know. But what's interesting is that it evolves because it was 51 years. Speaker 1: 04:36 And so what happens in the beginning is, um, father who Neupro Sarah comes with 200 people, many of those from Baja and a few Spanish people and they settle San Diego and they, the Spanish call it settle and the [inaudible] people call it an invasion or an encroachment of their traditional homelands, their traditional territories. And so it have that a procedural hill evolves through the years. And so at first it's, it's just the mission, but the mission is actually moved five years later because there's so many, um, rapes by the soldiers against the women, the Kumeyaay people, um, the women. And so they had to move the mission. And also because the water wasn't sufficient enough to plant the crops. So they moved the mission to where it's currently now in mission gorge. And so procedural hills, incredible. Because it is the most preserved, um, mission site in all of California. Speaker 1: 05:29 And so if you were to uncover it, you would find just incredible things. The footprint. Um, there's also a cemetery there that a lot of people don't know about and I believe there's about 220 people that are buried there. Um, some Baja, um, natives, uh, Spanish soldiers who are actually, there were the Baja soldiers, but we're under the Spanish rule. And so there's just so many incredible stories that people don't know. And I think because it is buried underground that it's kind of forgotten. There's still so much to uncover from our perspective that we could tell so many more stories and we'd love to continue to tell more stories from procedural hill and talk about the different perspectives because there were so many different people that came to procedural hills. So there's incredible stories there. I've been speaking with Elsa Savi, a host of historic places. You can find her show anytime as she says any place, right? Yes, as long as you go to kpbs.org and also our m severe productions.com website. Elsa, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.