Jane Dumas is a member of the Jamul Band of Kumeyaay Indians in East San Diego County. She is a lineal descendent of Chief Manuel Hatam, leader of the Kumeyaay village once located where the Balboa Park area of San Diego is now.
Isabel Thing, Jane’s mother, was a Kuseyaay Cha’ak (medicine woman) and midwife in southern California. Jane’s plant knowledge was passed down by observing her mother working with the plants and people. Bushes, grasses, even tiny weeds that most people don’t even notice hold incredible power and spiritual value to her. Jane is passing her vast knowledge of plants, herbs and ancient remedies to her apprentice, Richard Bugbee, and others. Jane and Richard have been teaching Kumeyaay Ethnobotany classes through Cuyamaca College and Kumeyaay Community College on Sycuan Indian Reservation.
Jane a humble person who would rather work for the improvement of situations rather than confrontation and attention of self. Kumeyaay being her first language, Jane has helped keep her language alive through her cultural presentations and by teaching other Kumeyaay. She is a well-known and widely respected elder, teacher, and leader in San Diego’s American Indian community and in San Diego at- large. For decades, Jane has been speaking in classrooms and at public events, sharing knowledge of Kumeyaay culture and medicine, and stressing the value of traditional language and history in today’s urban and American Indian societies.
In 1981, Jane helped found the San Diego American Indian Health Center, working first as a home-health aide and then as a “traditional medicine specialist.” Since 1986 she also has been a board member for the Indian Human Resource Center, and has been described as an “anchor, leader, peacemaker, and bridge between Indian and non-Indians in the areas of medicine and education” and believes that “we can become healthier as both individuals and as a community by incorporating traditional knowledge and spirituality.”
Jane is one of very few elders from a reservation to make a mark in San Diego’s urban Indian community. In 2002 Jane Dumas was inducted into the San Diego County Woman’s Hall of Fame. On October 1, 2004, the City of San Diego honored her by proclaiming it Jane Dumas Day.
Jane doesn’t consider herself a healer or a great leader, just someone who knows the old ways and hopes they won’t be forgotten. She continues to demonstrate her commitment again and again. She participates in many of the activities that offer avenues to tribal traditional ways. She is a very traditional tribal woman. She has endured for many decades.