Kumeyaay astronomy

Kumeyaay astronomy or cosmology (Kumeyaay: My Uuyow, "sky knowledge") comprises the astronomical knowledge of the Kumeyaay people.[1] A deeply rooted cosmological belief system was developed and followed by the Kumeyaay civilization based on this knowledge including the computing of time (Kumeyaay Mat’taam).[2]

Kumeyaay astronomy
map of California with tribal areas
Geographical rangeEl Vallecito
Period7000 BCE - c. 1875

The first evidence of astronomical observations and visual registration was discovered in the El Vallecito archeological zone. The "Men in a square" rupestric painting located at El Diablito area of El Vallecito depicted a square that aligns with sunlight on the Fall equinox. These paintings were made by the nomadic(?) Kumeyaay people.[3][4] Kumeyaay sand paintings and rock art modeled the passage of the sun, moon, and constellations.[5]

Observation areas were made by the Kumeyaay to watch and register astronomical events. However many were destroyed by vandals before protection measures were instituted.[6]

Astronomical objectsEdit


Name Meaning Western equivalent
Kwechnyay Hunter part of Orion
Hachaa Six laughing girls Pleiades
Hawitai Garter snake Lyra
Akewli Chaser part of Orion
Hechkullk Wolf Auriga, Taurus
Shallymat Arm Big Dipper
Shally Hand Leo
Pehkay Seven Cygnus
Llykuushirra Racer snake Cassiopaeia
Menniih Tarantula Canis Major/Minor
Namuuly Bear Gemini
'Ehwii Rattlesnake Draco
Shuluk Lightning Scorpius
Hetepaa Coyote Bootes
Shaaii Buzzard Virgo
'Ahaak Raven Aquila
Emuu Mountain sheep Orion's Belt
Awi yuk Gopher snake Corvus/Hydra
Nyemii Bobcat Piscis Austrinus

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hedges, K. (1981-01-01). "Winter solstice observatory sites in Kumeyaay Territory, San Diego County, California": 151–156. Bibcode:1981aram.conf..151H. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "Kumeyaay: Native Californians - San Diego Museum of Man". San Diego Museum of Man. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  3. ^ "El INAH identifica evento arqueoastronómico en pintura rupestre de El Vallecito (INAH identified archeoastronomic event in cave paintings at El Vallecito)". www.inah.gob.mx. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  4. ^ Ray A. Williamson (1987). Living the Sky: The Cosmos of the American Indian. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 272–3. ISBN 978-0-8061-2034-8.
  5. ^ Richard L. Carrico, (ed) Strangers in a Stolen Land: Indians of San Diego County from Prehistory to the New Deal, Sunbelt Publications, 2008, ISBN 9780932653826
  6. ^ As it can be read in the information card about Kumeyaay astronomy at the San Diego Museum of Man. 2016.
  7. ^ Connolly, Michael (2016). Maay Uuyow: Kumeyaay Cosmology. Alpine, California: Shuluk. p. 43. ISBN 9780692707661.

External linksEdit