Southwestern College Honors its Ancestors

sunset photo of DeVore Stadium entrance
Members of the Kumeyaay Nation can now use Southwestern College facilities without rental fees.

Southwestern College’s Governing Board moved from words to action Tuesday when they adopted a resolution that permanently waives all facility rental fees for members of the 13 federally recognized Kumeyaay tribes within San Diego County.

For the last year, the Governing Board has begun each public meeting with a verbal land acknowledgement to honor the Kumeyaay Nation, on whose land all of Southwestern’s campuses occupy.

It has been a conscientious, political act by the Governing Board to recognize the nearly 500 years of demonstrated resilience and resistance to the actions taken by colonizers to separate the Kumeyaay people from their land, culture and one another, said Governing Board President Leticia Cazares.

“We knew we wanted to do more,” Cazares said. “This land belongs to the Kumeyaay Nation, and we are grateful to share all the opportunities Southwestern College offers.

“We will build upon what we started and continue developing authentic relationships with our Kumeyaay family,” she said Tuesday.

During its 61-year history, Southwestern College has been a community hub, offering educational, recreational and cultural opportunities to the entire region.

Community members—seeking opportunities for educational attainment, career development and personal growth—have enrolled in the college’s credit and non-credit classes. Sports teams have played on the college’s fields and have competed in the pools. Actors, singers, dancers and audience members have enjoyed the performing arts facilities.

College leadership, faculty and staff are proud to be that community hub and even more proud to share everything that has been made possible by the original people of this land, said Superintendent/President Dr. Mark Sanchez.

As well, members of the Kumeyaay tribes have maintained their indigenous languages and have made distinct and important contributions in such fields as agriculture, astronomy, medicine, music and art.

“The possibilities are endless on the cultural exchanges that will take place at Southwestern College moving forward,” Sanchez said.

Members of the 13 tribes included in the partnership are: Barona, Campo, Capitan Grande, Cuyapaipe, Inaja, Jamul Indian Village of California, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, San Pasqual, Santa Ysabel, Viejas and Sycuan tribes, each of which manage their own sovereign tribal governments and lands.

The resolution was sincerely appreciated by the college’s ancestors.

“This is a great day for the Kumeyaay Tribal nations,” said Erica M. Pinto, chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village Tribal Council.  “We applaud the Board for waiving facility rental fees for the Kumeyaay Tribal Nations and creating space for our people.

“More importantly, we appreciate our partnership and the Board recognizing our tribal history in the San Diego area,” Pinto said. “It is actions like these that bring us together and give us hope for the future.”