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Notes on the Kumeyaay: A Problem of Identification


For over fifty-five years, one of the most persistent problems in southern California anthropology has been the identification of the people called Kamia. In recent years, the question has arisen anew as anthropologists have begun to work more intensively with the southern California Yuman groups. Some of the Southern Diegueno have adopted the name Kumeyaay for themselves, and a reexamination of the old term Kamia and all of its variations is long overdue. The following list of historical and ethnographic references is presented to provide background for my own comments which follow, for Margaret Langdon's paper on the etymology of Kumeyaay and Kamia which also appears in this issue of the Journal, and for future work on the subject. The list does not pretend to be complete, but does contain the major references to variants of the term Kumeyaay. The list is presented chronologically. Whenever possible, the years in which the data were recorded are used as reference dates; publication dates often are several or many years later. Except for direct citations, the terms Kamia, Kumeyaay, Diegueiio, Cahuilla, Mojave, Quechan (often called Yuma), and Cocopa are used in this paper, in preference to the many orthographic variants which appear in the literature.

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