Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians

Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Information

The Kumeyaay were the original native inhabitants of San Diego County, and have lived in this region for more than 10,000 years. Historically, the Kumeyaay were horticulturists and hunters and gatherers. They were the first people who greeted the Spanish when they first sailed into San Diego Harbor with the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo expedition of 1542.

Capitan Grande, about 35 miles east of San Diego, is the name of the canyon through which the San Diego River once ran. With abundant water, Kumeyaay Indians living there sustained themselves through farming.

In 1875, a presidential executive order withdrew lands from the federal domain, setting aside a number of small reservations, including the Capitan Grande Reservation from which the Viejas Band descended. Capitan Grande, patented in 1891, included portions of ancestral land of the Los Coñejos Band. In 1853, other Indians from Mission San Diego were given permission to locate on Capitan Grande by the federal Indian agent at the time. Over the years, other Indians were placed there, as well.

As the non-Indian population grew, demand for water increased. The city of San Diego built Lake Cuyamaca, laying its flume through the Capitan Grande Reservation and taking most of the San Diego River water originally used by the Kumeyaay. This left them only a small share from the city’s flume, resulting in crop losses on Indian farms. The city later decided to dam the river and take all of the water by creating El Capitan Reservoir. The Kumeyaay protested, but, at the wishes of land speculators and unknown to the Indians, Congress granted the city permission to purchase the heart of the Capitan Grande Reservation, where many Kumeyaay had built homes. From the proceeds of this forced “sale” of lands, some of the valley’s inhabitants, the Coapan Band, or Capitan Grande, bought Barona Valley and are now known as the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

A group of 28 families, including members of the Los Coñejos Band, purchased the Viejas Valley land (once a ranch owned by Baron Long) and incorporated the name Viejas. A few other families bought private individual property with their compensation. After the move, the Viejas and Barona Bands were denied their water rights and each valley became solely dependent on meager supplies of rainfall and groundwater until the issue was resolved by court action.

Today, membership in the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians is determined by direct descent from the families forced from Capitan Grande who pooled their shares of dam-site purchase money to buy Viejas Valley. The Viejas band continues to share a joint-trust patent with the Barona Band for the 15,000 remaining acres of the Capitan Grande Reservation.

Today, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians works to maintain their culture and sovereignty, and owns and operates Viejas Casino & Resort, Viejas Outlets, and Ma-Tar-Awa Recreational Vehicle Park.

Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians

Travel Info

  • Time Zone: Pacific Standard Time

Viejas Casino & Resort, Viejas Casino & Resort, 5000 Willows Rd., Alpine, CA 91901. 619- 445-5400

This upscale casino resort is 30 minutes east of downtown San Diego. Six dining options include the AAA Four Diamond Grove Steakhouse. An outdoor skating rink, bowling alley and Game Zone arcade keep everyone in the family entertained, and live performances by national acts take the stage at the Oak Ballroom. Willows Spa has a full massage and salon menu, and a salt water spa pool.

Ma-Tar-Awa RV Camper Park, Ma-Tar-Awa RV Camper Park, 25 Browns Rd., Alpine, CA 91901. 619-445-3276

A tree-shaded RV and tent campground with a pool, playground and paintball park on-site that  is located minutes away from Viejas Casino & Resort.

Alpine Springs RV Park, Alpine Springs RV Park, 5635 Willows Rd., Alpine, CA 91901. 619-445-3162

 Located near the resort at the base of the Cuyamaca Mountains, this 33-acre RV park is 30 miles east of San Diego includes 88 full hookup sites and 22 partial sites.

Viejas Outlet Center, Viejas Outlet Center, 5003 Willows Rd., Alpine, CA 91901. 619-659-2070

 This shopping center and more has  discounted designer brand-name stores as well as an arcade, roller rink, bowling alley and splash fountain.

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