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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


August 25, 2001 - Issue 43


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Web Site for Kumeyaay Created
Educator says he hopes to revive communal links


 by Chet Barfield Staff Writer-Signs on San Diego - August 18, 2001

BARONA INDIAN RESERVATION -- A Barona tribal member is using 21st-century technology to strengthen his people's ancient bonds.

With help from a small team of experts, Larry Banegas, a cultural educator and former tribal councilman, has created an evolving Web site about and for Kumeyaay Indians.

Through, Banegas wants people to learn about the tribe, past and present, from Indians' point of view. He also wants to help revive communal links among the 12 Kumeyaay bands in San Diego County and four villages in Baja California.

"In the beginning we had our way of networking. We'd have the runners go out and tell the people there's a big issue we need to talk about," he said. "I want to have a place where people can join and continue our customs and traditions."

The site was unofficially launched in May. Within a month, more than 9,000 users had logged on in more than 17,000 visits. Information is being added all the time. An official Web site celebration is scheduled next Saturday.

Banegas, 52, and his four-member team have been asking casino tribes to fund the nonprofit venture. They're also visiting Indian communities and events to generate awareness and interest.

The site has a page for every Kumeyaay reservation, explaining its history and listing coming events. Banegas and his team are lining up volunteers from each band to be responsible for posting and editing what's on their page.

There's a community bulletin board where questions and answers can be posted about anything Indian-related. Free e-mail for tribal members is being set up.

Elsewhere on the site are maps, stories and history lessons about the Kumeyaay, from before European contact to today, with content ranging from scholarly sources to tribal elders.

Another link, news and events, launches a list of regional and national Indian-related headlines in recent weeks. A click displays the article.

News director Richard Bugbee, a Luiseño Indian, was pulling stories off the Internet and sending them out on his own e-mail list for more than a year before joining Banegas' team.

Bugbee searches mainly for news about Indian language, religion and cultural issues. He doesn't ignore casino stories but says he wants to broaden what can be a one-dimensional focus on Indian gaming. is a good way to do that, he says. "There's a lot of information, a lot of history, a lot of culture on there."

Banegas expects to have a lot more tribal users coming online. The county's reservations are getting high-speed Internet equipment and access under a $5 million grant from Hewlett-Packard.

On the remote East County Manzanita reservation, the coordinator for native language preservation says she's already spending at least two hours a day on

"There's a lot of things about language I'm always downloading," Nicole Alto said. "I'm on it every day just to see what else is going on."

In July, Banegas and his technical director visited the San Pasqual reservation, helping teens in a high-tech summer academy post accounts of their experiences on the Web site.

"It's a good way for them to express themselves and still have it connected to something bigger," said assistant instructor Huggy Price, a pre-law student from the Santa Ysabel reservation. "It also serves a legitimizing function.

"The Kumeyaay aren't just some corner of the world. They're part of the world community."

Kumeyaay Nation
This Web site is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Kumeyaay culture. tells the story from the Kumeyaay perspective, and is the premiere source for Kumeyaay Indian information.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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