American Indian Responses to
Environmental Challenges

Campo Kumeyaay Nation
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Meet the People

Campo Kumeyaay identity and culture have been shaped by the land on which they thrived for thousands of years. Since the 1700s, they have survived many changes to those ways of life. Their culture is still important to them today.

Key Terms

  • Semiarid region

    An area that receives little rainfall, about 10 to 20 inches of rainfall per year.

  • Maay Xa

    A Kumeyaay word for creator, meaning “the water above.”

  • Nitrate

    A compound containing nitrogen that can have harmful effects on humans and animals. Nitrate is found in agricultural fertilizers, manure, industrial waste waters, sanitary landfills, and garbage. Nitrates in water can cause illness in humans and animals.

  • Sh’mulq

    A Kumeyaay word for clans, or extended family groups. Among the Kumeyaay, people traditionally lived and traveled in their sh’mulqs.

  • Kwai-pai

    A Kumeyaay word for the leader of a clan.

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Explore: Territory Maps

Map of Kumeyaay lands Original territory occupied by the Kumeyaay Kumeaay reservations today

The lands that the Kumeyaay people have lived on for thousands of years are located in the southwestern corner of the U.S. and the northwest corner of Mexico.

The Kumeyaay occupied a large region. Their lands were located along the ocean and inland, in the river valleys and mountains. Their territory began to shrink after the Spanish arrived in 1769.

By the late 19th century, Kumeyaay lands were vastly reduced. Today there are 13 Kumeyaay reservations in California and a few communities in Mexico. The Campo Reservation is just north of Mexico.

Original Territory
13 Reservations
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Try These Questions

Why did the Kumeyaay live in the lower elevations, or coast, during the winter and the higher elevations, or mountains, during the spring and summer?
A) In winter they lived on the coast to avoid cold mountain weather.
B) In warmer months, higher elevations offered different kinds of foods and other resources.
A and B
C) A and B
Between 1769 and 1846, Spanish, Mexican, and American people came to Kumeyaay lands. What are some ways these outsiders changed where and how the Kumeyaay lived?
A) American windmills pumped water for cattle at higher elevations.
B) The Spanish took coastal lands from the Kumeyaay.
C) The Mexicans taught the Kumeyaay to make baskets.
A and B
D) A and B
Over the years, what restrictions were placed on the Kumeyaay people to prevent them from expressing their culture?
Traditional dress
A) Traditional dances and ceremonies were outlawed.
Kumeyaay family
B) They could not wear traditional clothing or hair styles.
C) Schoolchildren were punished for speaking their own language.
All of the above
D) All of the above
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