Skip to Content

SPECIAL REPORT: Cerro Prieto- Giant vulture appears in crater of volcano

BAJA CALIFORNIA (KYMA, KECY)- What started as a project to create an identity for the Cucapá Tribe, Juan Hernández, professor of Visual Arts in Mexicali, along with a team of more than a hundred people created a giant geoglyph of a sacred vulture inside the Cerro Prieto volcano.

The Cerro Prieto volcano is located 18 miles southeast of Mexicali, in Baja California.

The tribe views vultures are orators or teachers who learned wisdom from the twin gods Sipa and Kumat.​

For reference, Cocopah is the English word for Kwapas living north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Cucapá is the Spanish word for Kwapas living south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Kwapa, Xawiłł Kwñchawaay is how they are referred to in their language.

The image went viral around the world, being seen on satellite images on Google.

“The volcano is a source of energy, and the bird represents the connection between life and death. The vulture eats dead creatures and what comes out of it is manure, which is the fertilizer that brings life,” says Juan.

Members of the Cucapá tribe live in that region, where they settled near the U.S.- Mexico border. The Aura vulture is considered a sacred animal to the tribe as it is a symbol of death and purification.

Click this link to see the volcano and geoglyph on Google Earth.

The geoglyph is 200 meters long with extended wings spanning 190 meters. The volcano is open to the public and can be seen at the peak of the mountain.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, the Cerro Prieto dome was roughly estimated from paleomagnetic evidence to have formed during a series of events between 100,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Antonia Torres Gonzales is a member of the Cucapa tribe and is a promoter of its culture.

“We are the first people. We have more than 3,000 years in the region. Our ancestors settled in the delta of the Colorado River thousands of years ago, and we are still here," says Gonzales.

The Cerro Prieto is free to visit, and you can park by the foot of the volcano. To get a view of the vulture, you are required to hike to the peak of the hill.

Author Profile Photo

Gabriel Salazar

You can catch Gabe Salazar reporting on Sunrise at 6 a.m and 7 a.m.

Skip to content