The Kumeyaay, also known as the Diegueño, are Native American people of the extreme southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. They live in the states of California (in the U.S.) and Baja California (in Mexico). In Spanish, the name is commonly spelled kumiai.
Historically, the Kumeyaay have often been divided into three groups. Along the coast two groups were approximately separated by the San Diego River: the northern Ipai (extending from Escondido to Lake Henshaw) and the southern Tipai (including the Laguna Mountains, Ensenada, and Tecate).
Nomenclature and tribal distinctions are not well-settled. The general scholarly consensus recognizes three separate languages: Ipai, Kumeyaay proper (including the Kamia), and Tipai in northern Baja California (e.g., Langdon 1990). However, this notion is not supported by speakers of the language (actual Kumeyaay people) who contend that within their territory, all Kumeyaay (Ipai/Tipai) can understand and speak to each other, at least after a brief acclimatization period (Smith, 2005). It is safe to say that the Kuymeyaay speak languages belonging to the Delta-California branch of the Yuman-Cochimí languages family, to which several other linguistically distinct but related groups also belong, including the Cocopa, Quechan, Paipai, and Kiliwa.
The meaning of the term Kumeyaay is unknown, but Ipi or Tipi means person, although in contemporary times it is taken to mean Indian. Some Kumeyaay in the southern areas also refer to themselves as MuttTipi, which means "people of the earth."
The Kumeyaay live on 13 reservations in San Diego County, California (Barona, Campo, Capitan Grande, Ewiiapaayp, Inaja, Jamul, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, San Pasqual, Santa Ysabel, Sycuan, and Viejas), and on four reservations in Baja California (La Huerta, Nejí, San Antonio Nicuarr, and San José de la Zorra). The group living on a particular reservation is referred to as a "band," such as the "Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians."
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) proposed that the population of the Kumeyaay in 1770, exclusive of those in Baja California, had been about 3,000. Katharine Luomala (1978:596) suggested that the region could have supported 6,000-9,000 Kumeyaay. Florence C. Shipek (1986:19) went much farther, estimating 16,000-19,000 inhabitants.
Kroeber reported the population of the Kumeyaay in 1910 as 800.
Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo. Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming A Civilization. United States: University of Texas Press,1996.