A mountain on public land near San Diego has become the first property listed on the National Register of Historic Places solely for its importance to American Indians, federal officials said Wednesday.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said Tecate Peak, a 3,900-foot mountain near the U.S.-Mexico border, was nominated because it is a religious site to the Kumeyaay Indians of San Diego County and the Mexican state of Baja California.
Russ Kaldenburg, who oversees management of public land in the area for the bureau, said the mountain, known as Kuchamaa to the Indians, means "exalted high place" in their language and has been regarded as sacred since before recorded history. The Kumeyaay Indians believe the peak is imbued with power from one of their creator gods, Kaldenburg said.
The peak still is visited frequently by the tribe, usually for training of religious leaders and is important for ceremonies of the Kumeyaay and other Southern California tribes, officials said.
Kaldenburg said the nomination was supported by California's State Office of Historic Preservation and the Native American Heritage Commission as well as the Kumeyaay Indians.