American Indian Responses to
Environmental Challenges

Campo Kumeyaay Nation
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Our Homeland

The Campo Kumeyaay live in a semi-arid environment with an abundance of plant and animal life. Historically, they knew how to manage their environment, making it healthier and more productive. The land provided everything the Kumeyaay needed.

Key Terms

  • Chaparral

    An area populated by shrubs that is dry in the summer and rainy in the winter.

  • Shawii

    A Kumeyaay word for food made from ground acorns. Acorns are the seeds of the oak tree.

  • Wetland

    Land covered mostly with water, with occasional marshy and soggy areas.

  • Kuseyaay

    A Kumeyaay name for people in their community who were specialists in particular areas. They offered advice and guidance to the people on many matters related to the environment, including where to build rock drop structures.

  • Biodiversity

    The number and variety of species of plant and animal life within a region.

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Explore: Kumeyaay Environmental Management

Prior to European arrival, the Kumeyaay managed the lands around them. They used several techniques that kept the environment healthy and productive. Roll over the highlighted spots to learn more.

Prior to European arrival, the Kumeyaay managed the lands around them. They used several techniques that kept the environment healthy and productive. Roll over or touch the highlighted spots to learn more.

The Kumeyaay knew how to harvest so that plants grew stronger and more prolifically. They never took all they found, and they never harvested when it interrupted a plant's reproduction cycle.

The Kumeyaay harvested grain. After harvest, they threw seeds from the grain back into the field then lit it on fire. The fire cleared out the dead plants and helped the new seeds germinate.

The Kumeyaay placed groups of large rocks into streams. The structures kept soil from washing out with rains, allowed many kinds of plants to grow, kept fresh water on the surface, and attracted wildlife.

The Kumeyaay also set fire to oak forests. The fire did not kill the big trees, but removed unwanted brush, dead leaves, and insects. It created healthier soil for new oak trees and good acorn crops.

In wetland areas, the Kumeyaay planted the seeds of different kinds of plants they knew grew well in those conditions. Wetlands plants were used as foods, medicines, and materials for making other things.

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Try These Questions

The Campo Valley, where the Kumeyaay people live, is a chaparral environment. Which pair of images best represents chaparral?
Image pair A
Image pair B
Image pair C
Historically, the Kuseyaay were spiritual people and specialists who acted as advisors. On which of the following did the Kuseyaay not offer guidance?
A) When to move to another area in the territory
B) What language to speak
C) When to harvest plants
D) When to burn an area to encourage plant growth
Historically, the Kumeyaay used many plants that grew in their region. Which of the following plants and uses are true for the Kumeyaay?
A) They used acorns from oak trees as food.
Yerba manza plant
B) They used the wide-leafed yerba mansa plant for medicine.
Stinging nettle
C) They boiled the stinging nettle plant and ate it.
All of the above
D) All of the above
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