Capitan Grande Reservation

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Location of Capitan Grande Reservation

The Capitan Grande Reservation is a Kumeyaay Indian reservation in San Diego County, California, jointly controlled by the Barona Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians and Viejas Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians. The reservation is uninhabited and is 15,753 acres (63.75 km2) large,[1] located in the Cuyamaca Mountains and middle of the Cleveland National Forest and west of Cuyamaca Peak.[2] The closest town is Alpine, California.[3]


Communal Ceremonial Shelter at Capitan Grande (photographed by Edward Sheriff Curtis in 1924.

The reservation was created by President Ulysses S. Grant, via executive order in 1875 for local Kumeyaay people.[1] Its name comes from the Spanish Coapan, which was what the area west of the San Diego River was called in the 19th century. The dry, mountainous and chaparral lands proved inhospitable.[2]

In 1931, the state flooded the heart of the reservation, creating the El Capitan Reservoir.[3] Many Kumeyaay families had homes in the floodzone, and they petitioned Congress to prevent the loss of their land; however, Congress gave San Diego the right to buy the land without the local Kumeyaays' knowledge or consent.[4] The two tribes, Barona and Viejas, were forced to sell the land and with their proceeds they purchased their current reservations, the Barona Reservation and Viejas Reservation, respectively.[2]

In 1973, 7 people lived on the reservation.[5]


Today, the two tribes have a joint-trust patent of the remaining reservation.[4] It is undeveloped but serves as an ecological preserve.[2]


  • Pritzker, Barry M. (2000). A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19513-877-1.
  • Eargle, Jr., Dolan H. (1992). California Indian Country: The Land & the People. San Francisco: Tree Company Press. ISBN 978-0-93740-120-0.
  • Shipek, Florence C. (1978). "History of Southern California Mission Indians". In Heizer, Robert F. (ed.). Handbook of North American Indians. Volume 8: California. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 610–618. ISBN 978-0-16004-574-5. |volume= has extra text (help)


  1. ^ a b Pritzker 2000, p. 146.
  2. ^ a b c d Eargle 1992, p. 202.
  3. ^ a b "California Indians and Their Reservations: C". San Diego State University Library & Information Access. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Kumeyaay History". Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. Archived from the original on December 1, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  5. ^ Shipek 1978, p. 612.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°55′33.54″N 116°43′45.58″W / 32.9259833°N 116.7293278°W / 32.9259833; -116.7293278