Since 2010, the Barona Cultural Center & Museum staff and the students have worked together each year on the Heritage Project, to preserve the history and heritage of the Barona Band of Mission Indians. Past Heritage Projects included ancestral tool making and cultivating and planting a Native Garden. This year, participating students from seventh and eighth grade classes at the Barona Indian Charter School, studied Ethnobotany, the science of cultural plant use, and how to preserve and prepare herbarium specimens. In the past, the program’s research results were only accessible in the classroom. Now, the new online exhibition allows students and Native American scholars everywhere access to the research data.
“The Heritage Project is a unique program that lets students draw from museum resources and their own experience in culture, math, science and history classes,” said Councilwoman Bonnie LaChappa of the Barona Band of Mission Indians. “We are excited to be able to share the results of their efforts in a new way and in a medium that allows anyone with an interest in the history of San Diego’s Native Americans to access and explore the information from their computer.”
As part of the program, the students researched the scientific name and traditional Native American use of plant specimens from the museum's collection which includes samples gathered on the Barona Reservation by Elizabeth Windsong in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. The entire process was documented digitally for the online exhibition.
Each specimen has its own dedicated page in the exhibition which features plant information, scientific name, traditional uses and photographs of the entire care and mounting process used to create the collection. The museum staff also consulted with Barona Tribal Member and language expert, Pat Curo, and the Tribe’s Language Preservation Team to teach the students the Kumeyaay names of each plant and create recordings of plant names in the 'Iipay Aa language for inclusion as an audio component in the online exhibition. The San Diego Natural History Museum also consulted with the museum staff and students on the project.
The Barona Cultural Center & Museum is located on the Barona Indian Reservation at 1095 Barona Road in Lakeside just one mile north of the Barona Resort & Casino. It is open Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information or to schedule a group tour, call 619-443-1003 ext. 219 or visit www.baronamuseum.org.