San Diego NWR Complex
Pacific Southwest Region
Celestine De La Chappa
Celestine La Chappa

San Diego's Native People

Pot shards, 'metates' or grinding stones, pieces of obsidian traded in far off lands, and other remnants of the Kumeyaay native American population who lived and managed land in this area for hundreds of years from inland to the coast are sprinkled across San Diego's refuges. Today, Kumeyaay residents continue to be active members of the San Diego community. Kumeyaay who live just across the international border with Mexico frequently visit relatives and neighbors for social, cultural and business activities.
In times past, Kumeyaay managed the water- starved landscape of San Diego by building dams and sluices to enhance natural meadow wetlands trapping water that would linger long after the last rains of winter. These wetlands enabled Kumeyaay villages to produce crops, attract wildlife like the area's mule deer and rabbits and, in general, sustain life through the long dry months of spring and summer.

Native plants were used for clothing, food, shelter and medicine. Juncus, a strong, flexible, reedy plant that grows along rivers and in marshes was used to make intricately decorated baskets as were pine needles from trees farther inland. These tightly woven baskets were used for everything from food storage and cradles to cooking pots. Kumeyaay baskets and pottery are highly valued today by collectors for their beauty and fine craftsmanship.

Photographs Courtesy Of The San Diego Museum Of Man

Click on a photo below to view a large image
snake basket
Celestine La Chappa Basket: "Snake"
leaves basket
Celestine La Chappa Basket: "Leaves"

Where wildlife comes naturally!

Last updated: May 19, 2009