Because of rapid population and urban growth throughout the traditional Kumeyaay (also known as Diegueño) territory, now is a critical time to preserve sacred ancestral lands and landscapes.

In 2005, the Kumeyaay Diegueño Unity Bands recognized this need, and established the Kumeyaay Diegueño Land Conservancy (KDLC). The KDLC benefitted from the support from nine of the twelve Kumeyaay Bands in the US (see below for membership details). Under the guidance of our mentor, the Native American Land Conservancy, the KDLC gained its 501(c)(3) status in July 2010. Since gaining non-profit status, the KDLC has acquired and protected sacred lands, and currently owns and manages three properties located in both San Diego County: Sacred Mountain Ranch at the base of Kuuchamaa Mountain (Tecate Peak); the Mosler Property in Julian, CA; and Sloan Canyon in the Dehesa Valley.

The KDLC also works with the government agencies and other non-profits to educate everyone about the significance of traditional cultural management. Today, the KDLC is an innovative organization and one of the leaders in the Native American land trust movement.

Sloan Canyon

Sloan CanyonIn 2013, the KDLC purchased the Sloan Canyon property from the Sycuan Band with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board. This 608-acre property, located adjacent to the Sycuan Indian reservation, is part of the Kumeyaay homeland, and also contains many heritage resources for the Kumeyaay people. The KDLC will manage the property as permanently conserved open space. As part of the management plan for the Sloan Canyon property, the KDLC will be closely monitoring the Sweetwater River for changes in water quality and ecosystem quality. Through grants from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and California State Off-Highway Vehicles program, the KDLC is now able to support a study of biological resources and an educational program for Tribal youth. The grant funds will also provide for an ethnobotanical study of native plants in the Canyon. The KDLC expects to manage the cultural and biological resources in partnership with the Sycuan Band well into the future.

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Sacred Mountain Ranch

Sacred Mountain RanchKuuchamaa Mountain is considered to be the most sacred mountain of the Kumeyaay people. Its namesake was a powerful Kuseyaay (religious leader) whose coming was foretold in the creation story. During his life, Kuuchamaa used the spiritual power obtained from the mountain to call for peace and healing among the Kumeyaay and neighboring nations. The positive message of personal discipline, peace and harmony resonates across religious doctrines and is carried on today among the Kumeyaay.

The mountain was also known as a special healing site that people would seek from long distances. Kuseyaay from throughout the Kumeyaay nation and neighboring nations would make pilgrimages to the mountain to gain the power and ability to do good for all people. With the purchase of Sacred Mountain Ranch, the KDLC has taken a more direct role in area planning and decision making, and hopes to restore the mountain to a pristine natural state. Several meetings have taken place in recent years with the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol to coordinate the protection of the mountain as a sacred site while accommodating their goals of national security. The KDLC is working to incorporate the spiritual message of Kuuchamaa with the sanctity of the location to promote spiritual growth, healing, and recovery from the physical and mental traumas of modern society.

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Mosler Property

Mosler PropertyThe 38-acre Mosler property is located near the town of Julian along Highway 79. Though relatively small in size, the Mosler property is part of a cultural landscape of great significance to the Kumeyaay people, who lived in the area until the 1800s. In the late nineteenth century, the Mosler family acquired the property, stewarding the land and dedicating a small portion of it to Francis Mosler’s beloved apple orchard.

Francis Helen Mosler passed away in 2007, leaving instructions that the property should be remain as open space. The Kumeyaay Unity Bands was granted the property, and the Kumeyaay Diegueño Land Conservancy was born. While the KDLC obtained its non-profit status, the Native American Land Conservancy, our mentor, held the land for us. In her memory, the KDLC plans to maintain the fruit orchard and preserve the area as open space in perpetuity.

The acquisition of the Julian property is part of a long-term goal of the KDLC to acquire natural and cultural heritage sites throughout aboriginal Kumeyaay territory. The Julian property, like other prospective acquisition sites and areas, will provide a location for cultural enrichment programs for the Kumeyaay people and help preserve ancestral knowledge.

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