Sacred Sites: Kumeyaay Fight for Burial and Ceremonial Grounds


News broke in 2010 of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s plan to develop a reservoir and pumping station in San Diego County, California—the problem is the site of planned developments.

The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians have waged a legal and political battle to protect the site, considered a tribal burial ground and ceremonial site, from being destroyed for the planned reservoir.

Over the past year, progress has been made in protecting the area, the site has been designated a sanctified burial ground and ceremonial site by the Native American Heritage Commission, the California Attorney General filed it’s own lawsuit against the district and the Supreme Court granted an injunction to stop all construction on the property.

According to a press release, however, this attack on a significant, historic and culturally important sanctified site is not over: the litigation is still pending, there is no agreed upon path yet to find an alternative site or alternative remedy, the property remains unrestored and many thousands of cubic yards of soils from the site that contain human remains and grave goods and ceremonial items sit a mile away from the site under massive tarps, in limbo.

“This site is sacred to our people, and it is culturally and historically significant for all residents of San Diego County and southern California,” then-Viejas tribal chairman Bobby Barrett said in the East County Magazine.

The Viejas Band is only one tribe struggling to maintain its sacred sites and requesting prayers on the 2011 National Day of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places on June 21.