The Kumeyaay have inhabited what is now known as Southern California and Northern Mexico for thousands of years. In publicly available maps, Kumeyaay Nation encompasses the border of the Pacific, stretching from Oceanside, California down to Ensenada, Mexico, and extending east to the Colorado River. The U.S.- Mexico border has been cut through Kumeyaay land since 1848. There are 13 bands of the Kumeyaay in Southern California and six in Mexico. Multiple members of various tribes have stated that neither the Kumeyaay of Southern California nor Mexico was informed of the wall-building on their land. The Kumeyaay believe the construction of the border wall—which includes the use of explosives—is destroying sacred land and desecrating the remains of their ancestors, essentially imploding graves.


 “We used to walk across this land for ceremonies and funerals every year. This is Kumeyaay Nation,” said Martha Rodriguez, a protest leader and member of the San Jose de la Zorra band of Kumeyaay. “We can’t see our families unless they get a passport or a green card to cross the land. This is our land.” 


Kumeyaay Nation was published in August 2020 for DAME Magazine.

Words by Katie Bard

Images by Zaydee Sanchez