Indians Return to Cosoy, Old Town

By Roy Cook

When it is hot. It is pow wow hot. Hot summer nights, clear summer skies and Indian summer hearts fill with the traditional songs of our American Indian culture. Tonight, Chuck Cadotte spoke on the power of traditional prayer in his life. Summer, for many tribes is a special time for intense prayer for the gifts and generosity of the Creator and the respect for our relations.


The heat continues at the SCAIR, Southern California American Indian Resource, and Soaring Eagle dance program. Our program in September 2009 is on Tuesday at 6:30 pm at the Ballard Parent Center in Old Town. San Diego, from William E Smythe’s view began on, “… a hill overlooking Old Town now known as Presidio Hill, on the site of an Indian village called “Cosoy.” Standing there today upon the ruins, one can well understand why this spot was chosen and cannot fail to admire the judgment which dictated the choice. It is conve­niently located both as to the harbor and as to the indispensable water in the river, and it commands the valley on one hand, and the shore of the bay, on the other, so as to be reasonably safe from attack from either of those directions. It was easy to for­tify, and it has a sightly outlook upon land and sea. The soil is deep and rich, and therefore well adapted to support the gardens and orchards.

Junipero Serra described the first Americans of Cosoy, “We have seen Indians in immense numbers; and all those on this coast of the Pacific contrive to make a good subsis­tence on various seeds and by fishing; this they carry on by means of rafts or canoes made of tule [bulrush], with which they go a great way to sea. They are very civil. All the males, old and young, go naked; the women, however, and even the female children; were decently covered from their breasts downwards. We found in our journey, as well as in the places where we stopped, that they treated us with as much confidence and good will as if they had known us all their lives; but when we offered them any of our victuals, they al­ways refused them. All they cared for was cloth; and only for something of this sort would they exchange their fish or whatever else they had.”

From the first visits most, if not all non-Indian visitors and invaders brought disease. In April 29, 1769 the Spanish ship San Carlos sailed into San Diego bay with many of the crew sick. The temporary pest house or hospital erected for the accom­modation of the sick sailors stood at what is now the foot of H Street. It was a rude affair, made of canvas. A third of those who had come on the San Carlos died before the ravages of the scurvy were stayed. They were buried there, and henceforth the place was known on the Spanish charts of the harbor as Punta de los Muertos, or Dead Man’s Point.

The SCAIR hosted and voluntary potluck meal continues at the beginning of the evening with a blessing by an elder or designated spiritual person. All are welcome to enjoy and participate in these SCAIR hosted free Soaring Eagle American Indian Dance classes. There is an open invitation for everyone to drop in. SCAIR dance instructor, Edward ‘Chuck’ Cadotte continues to mentor each dancer to do their best and encourage each category of dance style: Women and men traditional, grass dance, jingle dress, shawl dance, Southern women, adult and children round dance.


This final Wednesday evening there are many announcements: Soaring Eagle dance and regalia program will continue at Ballard Parent Center in Old Town on Tuesday. We appreciate these images from Soaring Eagle parent, John Hood.

Keep in mind September 1, 2009 2375 Congress St. Old Town, San Diego. Good parking available in the schoolyard, access to parking is from Jefferson St.