Ilan-Lael wishes to recognize all indigenous peoples todeay, Indigenous Peoples Day, October 11, 2021! Our co-founders, James and Anne Hubbell, have always felt a special closeness to the Kumeyaay people in both San Diego County and northern Baja California.

James worked with tribal leaders to design the Kumeyaay Museum in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico — the only museum dedicated to the Kumeyaay.  The building is shaped like an overturned Kumeyaay basket (tribal artisans are famed for their basket-making skills).

Museo Comunitario Kumiai is the only museum dedicated to the Kumeyaay Band in all of Mexico. Dioramas inside the museum show the Kumeyaay traditional way of living off the landfrom mountains to sea. PHOTO John Durant

Kuchumaa Passage, designed to embrace the breezes that come off the mountain, is a place for quiet reflection at Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. PHOTO: John Durant

James also co-led the design/build workshop on the property of Rancho La Puerta fitness resort and spa that created “Kuchumaa Passage,” a stone-and-brick, nest-like sculpture where people can sit and meditate while looking at the summit of the Kumeyaay’s most-sacred mountain, Mt. Kuchumaa.

Sacred to the Kumeyaay, Mt. Kuchumaa overlooks Rancho La Puerta and the community of Tecate. PHOTO: John Durant

As part of our summer, 2021, Lado a Lado (Side by Side) exhibition of James’s work in Mexico, we did a series of interviews with Kuchumaa elders as well as the president of Rancho La Puerta, Sarah Livia Szekely.

Visit their sacred mountain, listen to Kumeyaay ceremonial song, and learn more about their customs in this video segment from the exhibit.


Ilan-Lael celebrates and recognizes the Kumeyaay for their pride of place, and the inestimable beauty of their people and traditions. We need to better understand and protect the natural resources of this region, and we can have no better leaders and teachers than the Kumeyaay, whose own history and culture is inseparably woven into the fabric of the natural world.

Kumeyaay Museum windows made of resin hold leaves and flowes, indigenous plants and are a visual reference to the “Snake and Brothers Creation story.” PHOTO: John Durant

Past injustices must be recognized, and future attention paid to the struggles indigenous peoples face. Ilan-Lael will continue to champion the marriage of art, nature, and a new sensitivity toward the rights of all indigenous peoples in the world who have lost so much, yet have so much to offer going forward!

Norma Meza, Kumiai Band member, burns ceremonial sage.(left) Gourd shaker provides traditional rhythm for a ceremony. (right) PHOTO: Scott Draper

The Kumeyaay Museum is located at Calle Tlaloc 400, Tecate, Baja California Mexico. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, and tickets are $2.50 for adults and $1.00 for children. For more information and directions, call (from the US). 011-52-665/655-6419

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