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September 9, 2009     The Julian News
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September 9, 2009
 

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September 9, 2009 The Julian News 7 Wisdom Of The First People continued from page 1 limitations of written history, yet at the same time realize the great gift we have in what little history of The People remains. Added to this history is a note, here, concerning names. Throughout these essays the name Ipai will be used for both the Ipai and Tipai speaking bands north and south of the San Diego River. Controversy over the name Kumeyaay continues, and the author has been counseled by several sour-ces to use the name Ipai. The well known, local anthropologist Florence Shipek, through her friendships with Ipai elders in the late 1950s, gradually came to understand that a dramatically different kind of plant "geography" existed in pre-Spanish San Diego County (not to mention other counties as well). The elders' ages were from eighty to one-hundred and ten, this putting their childhoods in the presence of grandparents possessing know-ledge of the era prior to European intrusion, wherein was practiced a land- management style largely unknown today. The traditional practices explained in this series of articles come from talks with Florence, plus study of her writings about pre-Spanish, Ipai culture. Other studies from fire ecology and history are also quoted. Rivers and streams held great importance for the Ipai of old, and a main artery in pre- Spanish, Ipai life was the San Diego River, whose watershed and watercourse were an area through which the Inaja Fire burned. (The word Inaja is a Spanish rendering of the Ipai word Anyaha, meaning "lasting spring." The current Inaja Indian Reservation in Pine Hills is actually a few miles west of the old village site of Anyaha, where a perennial spring watered the people's gardens). The San Diego River and the canyon it flows through were once home to many Ipai, their homes existing along the length of the river, from Conejos Creek in the south to the valley of Santa Ysabel in the north. The Ipai lived along the river in a spread out fashion,, each family usually situated where a side canyon entered the main canyon. Villages where people were closer together existed in the main valleys, the village being the home of the kwaypaay or "captain" of a band. Bands were the smallest grouping of families and dissimilar to the notion of tribes common to other American Indian groups. A band is a group of people united or gathered together for a common purpose, where-as a tribe is a group sharing a common ancestor. Various lineages within a band were patrilineal, the family ties traced from father IPAI / Can your child work independently? Does your child love computers? Are your child's learning style preferences being addressed? 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Call 1-888-704-5498 and visit www.socalonlineschool.com FREE and open to students grades 7-1 2 .... r llll ................. .- to son. And one band usually occupied anywhere from ten to thirty miles of drainage or river valley, from the floor of the valley to the divides at the tops of the ridges on both sides. The San Diego River flows for a distance of roughly twenty miles from Santa Ysabel to the lower end of the El Capitan reservoir, whose dam was built in 1932. One of the bands whose lands were along the San Diego River eventually became known as the Barona Band, who relocated to the old Barona Ranch to make way for the dam. The city of San Diego bought the reservoir lands from the Indians, and the funds from the sale were used to buy two ranches: Barona Ranch and Baron Long Ranch, which became the Barona Indian Reservation and the Viejas Reservation. The San Diego River Canyon north of the El Capitan Reservoir, is nowpublic land under the jurisdiction of the Cleve-land National Forest. The Ipai of old practiced a subsistence pattern which made full use of fire as a tool for agriculture. A staple in their diet was a small grain, now extinct, about half the size of a large kernel of wheat. It was like an oat gram and plant specialists have said it was once very tiny and seedlike, yet some generations of domestication produced a kernel large enough for a food. People farmed this grain-grass on a seasonal basis in family areas spread throughout the landscape. After cutting the grass, it was bound in sheaves and removed to threshing and winnowing sites. Then those specialists with knowledge of controlled burning would fire the harvested area, reducing the stubble and remaining grass. Once the burn cooled, a portion of the seed collected would be broadcast into the burn, the seed later sprouting with the first, autumn rain. Varying amounts of winter rainfall either produced a short stalk with a small head of grain or stalks two- or three-feet high with much grain. This pattern of agriculture also included broadcasting the seeds of annuals, which would later provide spring greens and tubers. The people were watchful and careful. They never burned more than an acre at a time and in caring for their environment they burned as soon as a patch of ground was dry enough, with any surrounding damp areas containing the fire. In prior times it rained and snowed more in the back country, and burning was done in rhythm with the weather. Prior, nearby burns also helped contain the fire, plus people were stationed at critical areas. They kept careful watch over the land and kept the ground clean and free of woody debris. An historical note about the presence of woody debris comes from the diary of Fr. Juan Crespi, who accompanied the Portola expedition in 1769- 1770, one of the first Spanish expeditions into the Southern California area. Fr. Crespi wrote, "The place lacks nothing but wood, of which there is none."Crespi's diary concerns Chumash lands of the Santa Barbara area, the Chumash practicing a burning and broadcasting pattern identical to that of the Ipai. It is also worthwhile to note that the Ipai never cut a living tree. Collected deadfall, plus dead branches broken from the trees, provided fuel for cooking, baking, and pottery, plus wood for construction purposes. Copp=cing of willows and oaks, plus coppice shoots from burned brush plants provided additional, slender poles for the main beams of the Ipai brush huts. A certain species of water-repellent, willow (now extinct, I am told) was used for constructing dwellings because of its effectiveness in keeping water out. Returning to the subject of agriculture: in very steep areas, the people planted chaparral plants like Manzanita, Yucca, and Ceanothus, providing tools and medicines. The grain and annual seeds were broadcast in these areas also, a pattern developing in the Indians' burning regime: while the chaparral was small, the grass and annuals grew among it. As the chaparral increased in size, first the grain-grass would stop coming up, followed by the annuals. When the annuals stopped growing amid the chaparral, it was considered time to burn the slope and reduce the chaparral. Chaparral plants like Manzanita, Ceanothus, Sugar Bush, and Chamise resprout from their bases after a fire. So in this way a new cycle of growth for the chaparral began. The Ipai fired all their lands in a seasonal and several-year cycle, up to five or six years long, perhaps ten years in some cases. And the environment created by this agriculture consisted not entirely of brush, as we have now in many places. In the Ipai landscape, grasses and annuals were dominant, with a brush plant here and there. Controlled burns were also done to prevent high-intensity fires from breaking out and spreading. Landscapes in canyons had grasses on the lower slopes, on flats, in meadows, and on the lower portions of hills. The upper portions of steep slopes, high up in the canyons, had brush plants. Oaks were planted in various locales, mostly around the edges of valleys and especially where a side drainage entered a valley. Willows and wild grapes were planted along creeks and rivers. When putting this whole subsistence pattern together, we find a landscape natural in appearance which, when seen through the eyes of arriving Spaniards, seemed produced by nature herself. They had no idea that it was a pro-duct of human creativity, born of centuries (perhaps millenniums) of experience, in-sight and adaptation. The higher areas of the nver floor, the milder slopes above those areas, and side canyons of the main San Diego River continued on page 8