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American Indian Identities

Kum 'Enyaawapch Ewuupch 

On Thursday, May 26th, join us 10am-12pm at the Mingei International Museum

Kum 'Enyaawapch Ewuupch is 'Iipay Aa (the northern dialect of the Kumeyaay Language) for 'the way we see it'. Students from Barona Indian Charter School are creating a culminating project representative of their 8 years of Culture Class with Barona Cultural Center & Museum studying Kumeyaay culture and history. This exhibition serves as their legacy—a Heritage Project in which their knowledge is shared with others, contributing to the perpetuation and preservation of the Kumeyaay culture.

We Stayed Together: 75th Anniversary of the Reservation

Barona Cultural Center and Museum’s exhibition, We Stayed Together: 75th Anniversary of the Reservation was on display at the Museum from 2007-2021. This exhibition was held in honor of the Barona Reservation’s 75th Anniversary in 2007. Historical photographs, drawings, and label text documented the history of the Barona Band of Mission Indians from thousands of years ago through 2007. Please click here to see the timeline text and photographs.

the move illustration - Horse Drawn Carriage_Car copy (002).jpg
Ancient Spirits Speak

"The Move" by Scott Swearingin

Sports - The Competitive Spirit at Barona

This exhibition is a celebration of Native American athletes throughout history featuring memorabilia from Legends such as Jim Thorpe (Sac/Fox/Potawatomi), John Tortes “Chief” Meyers (Cahuilla), and Notah Begay III (Navajo/San Felipe/Isleta and many others. Over 200 Barona Tribal and community members are represented within this exhibition through photographs, memorabilia, and quotes. Some have gone on to Major League tryouts, and one, Matt LaChappa, was drafted by the San Diego Padres. With a love of sports, Barona Reservation honors that competitive Native American spirit.

'Iipayn Aa

Ancient Spirits Speak

The Native People of San Diego County

Who are the people that have inhabited this land since time immemorial? In the San Diego International Airport, Terminal 2, eight cases were exhibited on Kumeyaay/Diegueño culture and history from ancient times to the present. We highlighted important periods in time and lifestyle, including stories of the land and home, the impact of the Spanish Missions, and modern tribal sovereignty. The exhibit was on display through March, 2007. If you are traveling into or out of San Diego, please make sure to see our display on the balcony above baggage claim. We have received great feedback from Tribal members and the general public around the nation who saw the exhibition while traveling through. After de-installing the exhibit in late March, most of the display will return to the museum for presentation to the public through the fall. We hope to travel a specially prepared portion of this exhibit to other museums, libraries, universities, and other venues that show an interest.


Please contact us if you would like this display in your institution!

Elders Tree

American Indian Identities

The Museum often receives questions from the public about the lifestyle and appearance of modern Tribal members. Much of what people believe about Indians comes from some very general stereotypes that have been around since Europeans came to the Americas. We will explore some of these images and identities using the Museum’s library.

For several years now the staff has compiled a Stereotypes Literature Collection beginning with books that I collected for my research as a graduate student. The Tribal Museum staff has been especially interested in Children’s literature of the last 100 years. When we are very young, we have our first introduction to other people. What have books been saying and showing children about Indians? How much of it is good; what is negative?

We supplemented the books with some interesting objects that the staff members have collected, including Barbies, Indian dolls, party favors, sports mascots, artwork, tourist items and other interesting objects. Let us know what you think about stereotypes. What do you think about the sports mascots issue? What have you seen that represents some exaggerated thinking about Indians? What visions seem to be accurate and help us understand Native people in the Americas?

After almost 20 years of studying stereotype issues, I can tell you that the question, “what is a negative stereotype?” is not always easily answered, even among tribal members.

Legacy from Mothers

‘Iipay Aa Tiipay Aa Uumall,
The Barona Inter-Tribal Dictionary  (2009)

In the spirit of ongoing Cultural Preservation, we presented the exhibition, ‘Iipay Aa Tiipay Aa Uumall: More Than Words Saving Our Endangered Language. This exhibition describes the first publication of the Barona Museum Press in 2008, the monumental 696-page Barona Inter-Tribal Dictionary: ‘Iipay Aa Tiipay Aa Uumall. The inspiration for this seven-year long project is embodied in the Dictionary Committee’s efforts to save this endangered language.

Language reflects a culture’s world view. Words reflect the history and environment of the people. The Barona people suffered severe language loss through the mission system, boarding schools, urbanization, and assimilation projects. Museum and other Tribal programs have been dedicated to cultural preservation and revitalization with ongoing culture classes and the Language Preservation Program from 1973 to present. The exhibition traces these many efforts. These words are fascinating when we examine their origin and development within the history of the Barona people. We find that a dictionary is more than just words; it is culture.

Living Treasure

Barona Elders' Tree:

The Faces of Our Heritage (2008)

In family trees all over the world, families trace who they are and where they came from. Looking into the faces of these Barona Elders and Seniors, we see the past, present and future of our heritage. The strength and perseverance of our families is seen in these faces. These Barona elders held tight to the land and to the customs and traditions of the ancestors. With this exhibition we commemorate 75 years since the move from our original reservation at Capitan Grande to Barona Indian Reservation in 1932. This important and transforming move was witnessed by our elders, Josephine Romero, Josephine Whaley, Ernie Magginni and Albert Phoenix as children.

These portraits reflect the diverse lives among the Barona Tribal members-- some are innovative and some traditional, and many incorporate both qualities. We also acknowledged the dedicated spouses in the Couples Corner. The common thread among all is an unwavering dedication to the continuity of family and preservation of this sovereign Tribe.

We thank the following Barona Elders and Seniors for their participation:  Josephine "Sister" Romero, Pat Curo, Janice Curo Pinto, Josephine Whaley, Donna Romero DiIorio, Edwin "Thorpe" Romero, Albert "Boxie" Phoenix, Frank LaChappa, Charley Rodriguez, Larry Banegas, Stanley Maxcy, Shirley Curo Ruis, Robert Banegas, Caroline LaChappa Mendoza, Elaine Curo Trujillo, Alan Banegas, Clifford LaChappa, Phillis Brown VanWanseele, Charles "Beaver" Curo, Susan Paridar, Robert Welch, Linda Curo, Montie Banegas Perez, Lynn "Toddy" Brown Yeats.

Permanent Collection

Legacy from Our Mothers

Indian Basketry of San Diego County, 2004, in Partnership with San Diego Museum of Man.

Beautiful baskets are the enduring legacy of San Diego County Indian women. Of all the art forms practiced by the people, this is perhaps the most delicate and well known. The women spent hours finding the proper plants, preparing them, and then coiling the fibers into practical, yet elegant containers.

As the world left traditional culture behind, the women sought to make a new livelihood with their art form. Many beautiful and innovative baskets were made for sale or commission during the early part of the twentieth century. This practice continues today.

This exhibition featured an exquisite collection of 33 baskets from the collection of the San Diego Museum of Man. It is so important to remember the women who did this beautiful work—our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers.

Rock of Ages

Living Treasure (2011)

Josephine “Sister” Curo Romero is the 2011 recipient of the Barona Cultural Center & Museum Living Treasure award. The award goes to an elder selected by his or her peers in the Kumii Tepchuurp, Barona Circle of Elders, for contributions to the preservation of the Barona Band of Mission Indians’ culture and language. In 2010, the inaugural awardee was Caroline Mendoza.

Over the past several decades, Josephine “Sister” Curo Romero has made significant contributions to the Barona Tribe. Sister served as Chairwoman for the Barona Band of Mission Indians from 1976 to 1980. Under her leadership, the Tribal government started to take the first steps toward gaming. Sister served on Council several times as well as on numerous Barona Tribal Committees. She is a great supporter of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kateri Tekakwith, a Parish on the Reservation and also sings in the choir. Sister is also a founding member of the Kumii Tepchuurp, Barona Circle of Elders. Sister was instrumental in founding the Barona Museum. Her advice, knowledge, and history are invaluable to the Museum exhibitions and activities. She was especially helpful with the Tribal History exhibition for the 75th Anniversary of the Reservation, being five years-old when the Reservation was established.

Shahuuk Matwam

The Barona Cultural Center and Museum Permanent Collection: Fifth Year Retrospective

The collection that began it all!

The Museum celebrated its Fifth Anniversary with the Re-Installation of the Permanent Exhibit. The treasured anthology features rare Southern California Indian artifacts from several local tribes and unique artifacts representing ancient song and ceremony. This Collection was acquired for the Tribe through the generosity of Don Speer and Venture Catalyst and became the foundation for the establishment of the Museum.

The exhibition includes stone blades and points from 10,000 years ago, baskets from the 1900s to present-day, and several ancient and modern pottery vessels. Presented are ancient stone and clay pipes, beautiful shell beads, and rare wooden artifacts such as digging sticks and shinny game pieces and a few fascinating mystery pieces

We Stayed Toether

Rock of Ages

Music and musicians tell great stories through song.

The Museum collected many of these great stories through recent interviews with several of the musicians on the Reservation. The exhibition features the stories about the musicians, how they got their starts and who their teachers were.

Many Barona Tribal Members sing, play in bands, and participate in choirs. Some have records and CDs. These dedicated players pass down this love of music to new generations and continue this important Barona tradition.

Shahuuk Matwam Nyuk Pekwilly -
Ten Years Have Passed (2010)

As early as the 1970s, Barona Tribal members envisioned a cultural center and museum—a place where tribal history and culture would not only be kept alive, but thrive. It was not until the late 1990s though, that the need for such a place became a reality. The inspiration for the creation of the Barona Cultural Center & Museum was a collection of more than 2000 native artifacts from San Diego County collected in the early 1900s. This material represents hundreds and thousands of years of daily life of the Indians in San Diego.

Purchased from the collector’s estate by Don Speer and Inland Entertainment, and donated to the Barona Band of Mission Indians, the collection finally “returned home” in 1997. Tribal members felt that the time was right to build a museum to showcase this wonderful collection of artifacts. Planning sessions commenced and the old Bingo Hall was to be the future home of the Barona Cultural Center & Museum. Construction began, our Director/ Chief Curator was hired, collections were cataloged, and exhibitions were created.

The Barona Museum opened its doors in January 2000. Since then, the Museum has rapidly grown and has surpassed all expectations of the original planning committee. The Barona Band of Mission Indians is proud of their museum and of the quality and excellence in the education and enrichment programs they are able to provide to the greater San Diego community.

The exhibition Shahuuk Matwam Nyuk Pekwilly— Ten Years Have Passed, celebrated with a retrospective look at our first ten years.

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