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MONTHLY MEETING: Kumeyaay Ethnobotany

Join us on July 8 for a presentation by anthropologist and California State University, San Marcos professor, Michael Wilken-Robertson. Wilken-Robertson’s talk, based on his recent book, Kumeyaay Ethnobotany, will explore the ways in which California’s original peoples and their descendants used their extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna to sustain their culture and lifestyle.

Michael Wilken-Robertson’s research and advocacy work with Native Baja Californians has explored traditional arts (pottery, basketry, oral narratives, and song), ethnobotany, history, languages, and cultural landscapes of the indigenous peoples of the northern Baja California region. He has developed lifelong collaborative relationships with native artists and traditional authorities to foster cultural revitalization and sustainable community development. Wilken-Robertson’s fascination with native plants and the natural landscapes of the Californias has inspired him to explore the many ways that humans have interacted with their environments, from the ancient past into the present.

The Kumeyaay Nation was once a vast territory, spanning the U.S.-Mexico border. Over thousands of years, the Kumeyaay learned to use indigenous plants for food, clothing, protection and medicine. Although some of that knowledge has been lost, Professor Wilken-Robertson’s conversation with Kumeyaay elders has allowed him to capture much of it. His book explores the relationship between California’s native peoples and native plants. The guide is lavishly illustrated with beautiful photographs to show these plants in their native habitat as well as the many uses to which they are put, from food to clothing to tools and appliances.

Be sure to join us on July 8 to gain a new perspective on California’s native plants. A book-signing will precede and follow the talk. The evening starts at 6:00 PM at Congregation Beth Israel. Admission is free for SDHS members and $15 for non-members. Parking is free. For more information, call (619) 296-9215 or visit

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