December 1, 2013

Four tribal groupings make up the indigenous Indians of San Diego County


Four tribal groupings make up the indigenous Indians of San Diego County: the Kumeyaay/Diegueño, the Luiseño, the Cupeño, and the Cahuilla.

The Diegueño are the largest group, and are classified in the Yuman language family, Hokan stock. They are divided into the Ipai (the northern dialectical form) and the Tipai (the southern dialectical form). The Southern Diegueño are known in their language as the Kumeyaay. 

Some research shows that the Kumeyaay are the same as the Kamia, which are the Yuman-speaking Indians of Imperial County, over the mountains east of San Diego County.

The Luiseño, Cupeño, and Cahuilla Indians belong to the Cupan subgroup of the Takic language family of Uto-Aztecan. This language is sometimes called Southern California Shoshonean. They live in the northern part of San Diego County, and are related linguistically and culturally to the Juaneno, Gabrielino, Serrano, and Kitanemuk Indians.

The Cahuilla are primarily in the desert areas of Riverside County, although they occupy the far northeasternmost reservation of San Diego County, called Los Coyotes.

All of the Indians who traditionally lived in the San Diego area when the Spanish arrived in 1769 are called Mission Indians.

There are 18 Indian reservations in San Diego County, more than in any other county in the United States. However, most people have only heard of the reservations with successful bingo and gaming operations, which are the reservations of Sycuan, Barona, and Viejas.

The 1990 Census of Population and Housing lists around 2,200 Indians living on 17 of the reservations in the County, although there are many others living in the urban areas.

The reservations may be divided by the following tribal groups, or rancherias.


Barona, Campo, Capitan Grande (unoccupied), Cuyapaipe, Inaja-Cosmit, Jamul, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, San Pasqual, Santa Ysabel, Sycuan, and Viejas.


La Jolla, Pauma, and Rincon




Los Coyotes

Mission / Rancheria Indians
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