This is the Kumeyaay Nation Divided by the Border stop of the Border Field State Park: Divided Together self-guided tour. This tour contains highlights from the Divided Together podcast.
Traducción en español por venir.
This is the ancestral land of the First People, the Kumeyaay.
“Before the border wall, because people like ... home is home, you know? So they go back and forth and they just walk or on a horse. They come over here for to visit or for a wake or things like that. Then go back again. Now they cannot do that because of border wall. A lot of people on reservations in Baja, especially the elders, they didn't have papers like the birth certificates and stuff like that. We don't having electricity. So for you to be able to get a passport or a visa, you have to have all this documents like proof of your income, proof of your electricity bills. All these things that people, and our people don't have that. So it was very hard to do the process to get a visa.”
Ana Gloria Rodriguez, San Jose de la Zorra, Mexico
When the border between the United States and Mexico was established in the 1850s, the land of the Kumeyaay was split between the new American state of California and northern Mexico. People and culture were immediately divided. In the over 170 years since, the effects on the culture and land management have become evident.
Respected member of the Kumeyaay Nation, Ana Gloria “Martha” Rodriguez was interviewed for Divided Together. For nearly 20 years, Martha and her family have been important stakeholders for California State Parks in San Diego County, often sharing cultural knowledge and providing invaluable feedback on proposed projects. She and her husband, Dr. Stanley Rodriguez, run the Kosay Kumeyaay Market in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Ana Gloria has worked for years to facilitate people coming up from her home reservation, San Jose de la Zorra.
“So a lot of people, they cannot cross the border because those papers expire. We have an MOU with Homeland Security, so people can cross the border with a permit for cultural issues and stuff like that. But sometimes, whatever is cultural for us, they don't understand and be like, "Oh, that's not culture." Then, because I am one of the person who I do the permits and stuff like that, and one time we have one elder in the hospital. Then the family over there want to come and visit. Because he was going to visit in the hospital, they didn't believe it was a cultural thing. So they denied the permit. Sadly, that person passed away and the people were not able to come and visit or say goodbye.”
The lengths that she and others have to take to bring folks up from the Mexico side of Kumeyaay Territory are discouraging, but it is heartening that through social media and negotiating with the U.S. Customs, they have found a way to connect and allow the elders to meet.
Click here to listen to this episode of the Divided Together podcast.