PALOMAR MOUNTAIN — By giving three asteroids American Indian names, astronomers at the Palomar Observatory and tribal leaders said Tuesday they hope to spark new interest in an ancient local culture.
The three asteroids discovered with the 200-inch telescope atop Palomar Mountain were named after figures in the Luiseno tribe’s story of creation: Tukmit, Tomaiyowit and Kwiila.
“As we try to teach our culture to our kids, this is very significant to us,” said Chris Devers, chairman of the Pauma Band of Mission Indians, whose reservation is a few miles down the mountain in Pauma Valley.
Devers said the Luisenos, the original inhabitants of Palomar Mountain and Pauma Valley, believed that Tukmit, or Father Sky, was made from nothingness and together with Tomaiyowit, Earth Mother, bore the first people. (In the photo above, Children from the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians perform a Native American “thank you” blessing during a ceremony to name three asteroids Tuesday at Palomar Mountain. Photo: Bill Wechter, Staff Photographer)