SAN DIEGO--The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) voted unanimously to declare the site of a water district project in San Diego County a Native American ceremonial site and sanctified cemetery, and recommended steps, including relocating the project to an alternative off-site location and legal action, to protect it from further desecration.
“unparalleled in the San Diego County region”
The Padre Dam Municipal Water District had started construction of a new reservoir and pumping station at the site, which is on approximately two and a half acres south of I-8 near Lake Jennings Park Road and Old Highway 80.
The site is a Kumeyaay burial and ceremonial ground, and the discovery of very high densities of Native American human remains, pottery shards and other grave goods was declared to be “unparalleled in the San Diego County region,” according to The Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s own experts.
After taking written and oral testimony and making its ruling at a special hearing in San Diego yesterday, the Commission also called on the state Attorney General’s office to take legal action to halt further desecration, should the Padre Dam Municipal Water District ignore the mitigation measures recommended by the NAHC and resume construction at the site.
The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians was declared the “Most Likely Descendents” of the human remains discovered at the project site and had requested the Commission conduct an investigation to determine whether the site was a sanctified cemetery or ceremonial site. Letters supporting Viejas’ position were submitted at yesterday’s hearing from the San Diego East Chamber of Commerce, Alpine-Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the Alpine Historical Society. Representatives from other organizations and Native American tribal leaders also appeared at yesterday’s hearing to speak in support of Viejas.
Earlier this month, a San Diego Superior Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order halting construction at the site. A preliminary injunction hearing before the Judge is set for June 25, 2010.
About the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians is a sovereign Nation whose people have inhabited the San Diego County area for thousands of years. The 1,600 acre Viejas Indian Reservation is located near Alpine, California, approximately 35 miles east of San Diego. For more information on the history and current government of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians visitwww.viejasbandofkumeyaay.org.