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Combining a bit of local history with a pleasant guided nature hike, Poway’s Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center seeks to educate and engage visitors in the rich heritage of the area.

The center consists of 5 acres acquired by the city of Poway in 1987.

Docents begin tours in the visitors center where artifacts recovered onsite are on display, showing the culture and way of life of the Kumeyaay Indians.

Discussions of the Kumeyaay’s diet, construction methods, medicinal and religious practices are presented as visitors are led on a quarter-mile trail. Stops along the way include native gardens, ramadas, an irrigation system, milling stations and a representative village.

The trail provides opportunities to view the native plants and to learn about their many uses. A highlight of the tour is the original grinding holes used to mill acorns (a staple of the Kumeyaay diet), which indicates the spot was used for hundreds of years, said docent Bob Emery, a city councilman.

The tour takes about an hour and recounts the history of the Kumeyaay in the “Pauwai” Valley, an early form of the city’s name meaning “meeting place where creeks come together.” The native people lived in the area as long as 5,000 years ago and remained until the 1890s, when white settlers moved into the area, Emery said.

“The purpose of the tours is to remind people that there was another culture here and to preserve a bit of history,” Emery said.

One portion of the walking trail is steep and only the lower portions are handicapped-accessible.

Visitors should wear good walking shoes and sunscreen; water is provided. The trail is open only to the public taking docent tours.

LOCATION: Kumeyaay Interpretive Center, 13104 Silverlake Drive, Poway.
HOURS: 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays; walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are accepted.
COST: Free.
MORE INFORMATION: (858) 668-1292
ONLINE: - Shay McKinley

© Copyright 2008 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

Posted on September 20th, 2008 by hunwut