The Kumeyaay and their ancestors have lived, worked, and played in the diverse landscape of Imperial County for over 9,000 years.  

The Kumeyaay Nation has a long tradition of change.  Traditionally the Kumeyaay have inhabited the most diverse landscape of any culture in the Americas.  Their traditional territory ranges from the beaches of San Diego over the lush Laguna Mountains, across the arid Colorado Desert, to the shores of Lake Cahuilla and down into Baja California, Mexico. 

 Traditional Kumeyaay territory stretches from San Diego's coast to the desert. Frank Salazar, a member of the Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians said Kumeyaay territory had the most diverse geography of any other tribe in the United States.

Map of traditional Kumeyaay territory,from First People-Kumeyaay

In 2014 the documentary First People-Kumeyaay was produced by Industrial Strength Television, Inc.Drawn from over 70 hours of oral interviews with culture bearers from the Kumeyaay Nation and focused on the importances of sharing and maintaining cultural heritage and passing it on to future generations, the documentary quickly won numerous awards, including the 2014 Borrego Springs Film Festival "People's Choice" award for best documentary, and has been nominated in 2015 for a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Pacific Southwest region Emmy award in the documentary category.

The Imperial Valley Desert Museum received the rights and access to the 70 hours of raw interview footage filmed for this documentary, and is working to include as much of it as possible in a new permanent exhibit.  These interviews with Kumeyaay culture bearers and tribal members would otherwise never be viewed by the public.  Through the award of a Cal Humanities Community Stories grant the Imperial Valley Desert Museum is able to present many of these interviews, reaching new audiences and allowing those audiences to reflect on how they interact with a landscape that the Kumeyaay have traditionally inhabited for over 9,000 years. 

Kumeyaay Nation: Stories of Change is a project that combines a successful video outlet for cultural diffusion with the Museum's successful exhibit development and cross cultural community outreach to explore both Kumeyaay traditions and Imperial County's diverse desert community.  Audiences are able to reflect and explore the idea of a shared identity in a changing landscape.






This project was made possible with support from Cal Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit at www.calhum.org


 Member of the American Alliance of Museums since 2013

All photographs taken by IVDM staff or used with permission by Joselito Villero and Michael Field. All rights reserved.2014.