Family

When a Kumeyaay woman married, she left her home to live with her husband. She kept her family name. However, the couple’s children took their father’s family name.

To keep their bands strong, men and women were in charge of specific tasks. The women gathered and prepared foods. They also made crafts and clothing. Kumeyaay men built tools, hunted, and prepared fields for gardening.

When the Kumeyaay came together for ceremonies, they often played games. Most games provided practice for the skills needed in their community. Common games involved throwing sticks through hoops and targets. The Kumeyaay also ran races to prove their strength and endurance.

But some games were simply for fun. The tribe especially enjoyed peon, which is still played today. In this game, members of one team hide bones or sticks behind them. Then, the opposing team guesses which hands are hiding the objects. Peon ends when one team has all of the bones or sticks. The game can last for days.

All family members helped raise and teach Kumeyaay children. Adults taught the children tribal stories, songs, and dances. Boys and girls learned daily tasks by helping their extended family.

Kumeyaay children needed to understand nature. Boys and girls learned how to read the stars to know when to gather foods. Adults taught children where to collect foods and how to preserve them.

Women taught the girls how to weave clothing, baskets, and blankets. Kumeyaay girls also learned how to sculpt pots. The women showed them where to gather the necessary materials for these activities.

Men taught the boys how to make fishing equipment, such as nets, hooks, spears, and lines. Boys also learned to make boats. To do this, they tied tule together. Then, adults used asphaltum to waterproof the boats. The men also showed the boys how to catch fish and dig for shellfish.

Kumeyaay material provided courtesy of ABDO Publishing Company.  Author Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh, JD.  Illustrations by David Kanietakeron Fadden