Chula Vista’s Discovery Park to Be Renamed Kumeyaay Park

by on November 22, 2022 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, History, San Diego

Three weeks ago, the Chula Vista City Council did something very cool and very historic. On November 2, they unanimously approved the renaming of Discovery Park in the Rancho del Rey Community to Kumeyaay Park of Chula Vista. They said the designation recognizes the Kumeyaay people, who are native to the region with 13 reservations.

A Christopher Columbus statue stood in the park for 30 years but was removed and placed in storage two years ago after repeatedly being targeted by somebody who obviously wasn’t down with the forefather of the genocide of America’s indigenous peoples being displayed in the park.

As Tammy Murga and Lauren J. Mapp in the San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

The effort to rename Discovery Park and remove the Columbus statue follows decades of advocacy from Indigenous community members. … The effort in Chula Vista has been led in part by the Kanap Kuahan Coalition, a group that aims to remove the monuments while raising awareness of their negative impact. Kanap Kuahan means “to tell the truth” in the Kumeyaay language.

In response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the social justice protests that followed, activists across the country tore down or removed monuments of controversial historical figures, such as confederate leaders. Hours before a protest was set to start at Discovery Park, Chula Vista removed the Columbus statue. In May 2021, the Chula Vista City Council voted 4-1, with Councilmember John McCann opposed, to permanently keep the statue down and have a task force decide its fate.

Since 1990, the 6-foot-tall bronze monument stood atop a granite pedestal at the park in what would eventually become the Rancho del Rey community. The 1,200-pound sculpture was created by the late artist Mario Zamora Alcantara and commissioned for $100,000 by homegrown developer The Corky McMillin Companies.

The City Council also agreed that the statue will be returned to the artist’s heirs or to a local developer who commissioned the sculpture.

Stan Rodriguez, a director and professor at Kumeyaay Community College, was quoted as being “ecstatic” when he heard about the name change. He said:

“It corrects a romanticized, historical fantasy that these lands were ‘discovered. It brings to light what has happened with encroachment and the struggle of the Native peoples of these lands to keep our culture, our values, our language, all these things alive in the face of attempts at termination, assimilation and even extermination.”

The pedestal where the C. Columbus statute stood for 3 decades.

And 7SanDiego also reported that a task force, focused on the issue for the past year, presented their findings to the City Council. Erica Pinto, chairwoman of the task force and the Jamul Indian Village of California, told NBC 7:

“Renaming parks and schools in our native language not only honors our ancestors, it instills a sense of pride in our people, young and old. It also educates the public about our people, the first people of this region.”

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas was also quoted:

“They were the stewards of this land and had a culture that respected their land. We’re trying to correct history and trying to correct the narrative that without a European discovery, this would not have been a great nation. “

Art work now adorns the place where the Columbus statute once stood, and the council plans on placing a plaque there to help educate visitors on indigenous people. The City of Chula Vista hopes to have the signage in place by early 2023. 7SanDiego


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