Native Americans on the Mountain

Native Americans have been a centuries old presence on Mount Laguna. The native peoples of Southern California used mountain, coast and desert terrains for their habitat in a seasonal round of occupation throughout the year. Coming to the Laguna mountains from the deserts to the east in the late spring to early fall, and returning in for the winter and spring months served their lifeway. Other native groups migrated between the mountains and western foothills coastal areas in San Diego.

Human occupation of San Diego County has been documented from around 9,000 -10,000 years ago. Whether people migrated to Southern California from the eastern deserts or down the coast (or both) is not clear. Human presence in the eastern San Diego mountains is evident in what is known archaeologically as the Late pre-Historic period, 1500 – 2000 years Before Present (BP).

Indian groups were previously known as the Luiseno and Diegueno peoples. These are the Spanish names given to the Indians found in Southern California. Today the Native American tribal name of Kumeyaay is used. The Kumeyaay people are made up of different Indian bands and are now associated with different reservations throughout San Diego County. The Viejas, Barona, Camp, Manzanita, Santa Ysabel, and Pala Indians are just a few of the numerous Kumeyaay bands living in San Diego.

The Kumeyaay and their ancestors were masters of their environment. Described as hunter-gatherers, they used the plant and animal resources readily available in the mountains, desert, foothills and coast for all their needs including food, medicine, tools, shelter, clothing, and ceremony.

Protect Our Native Heritage

There are numerous pre-historic archaeological sites and artifacts throughout the Laguna Mountains. Grinding holes, known as metates, slicks, stone tools, pottery sherds, and flakes can be seen around the mountain. These are important and protected resources.

Please leave what you see where you see it.

Do not pick up any pottery piece, flake, mano or tool and take them home with you. These are legally protected items and it is against the law to remove them from their location and take them away.

While native people do not live on Mount Laguna today as they used to, the evidence of their presence is all around. This heritage comes down to all of us who are visit the mountain today and must be left for those who come tomorrow.

Learn More

Richard Carrico’s book Strangers in a Stolen Land is an excellent and interesting history of the Indians of San Diego from pre-historic times to 1935.

Lora L. Cline wrote the history of the Kumeyaay as she learned it from Tom Lucas the last full-blooded descendant of his people, the Kwaaymii Indians.  Her book Just Before Sunset tells the story of Tom Lucas’ life and his culture.

NA Use of Fire