The Yaqui conception of the world is considerably different from that of their Mexican and United States neighbors. For example, the world (in Yaqui, anía) is composed of four separate worlds: the animal world, the world of people, the world of flowers, and the world of death. Much Yaqui ritual is centered upon perfecting these worlds and eliminating the harm that has been done to them, especially by people. There is a belief current among many Yaquis that the existence of the world depends on the yearly performance of the Lenten and Easter rituals.
Descended from the ancient Uto-Azteca people of Mexico, the ancestors of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe first settled in the United States near Nogales and south Tucson. In the late 19th century, the tribe began to expand into settlements north of Tucson in an area they named Pascua Village, and in Guadalupe, near Tempe. They gained recognition by the United States government on September 18, 1978.
Among my People…the Yaqui…we call the night..Tuka Ania…the Night World….the Vehicle of Dreams… I cannot imagine what your dreams are like unless you describe them to me. Dreams reflect that which we hold deep within our minds…Have you ever looked at your reflection in the water? You see your face so clearly and it appears as reachable as your hand. But…when you reach to touch it…it is only water. Yet, in the reflection, you are safe from any harm….nothing can touch you.
We call that reflection…the Dream world. When you see the reflection of a forest across a large lake…look closely. You can see that the forest in the reflection can never be burned…or cut down. The sky in the reflection is clear…blue and unpolluted. A forest…a world that once existed.
Long ago…a world that we dream will exist once again. In this real world that we live in we all seek a place of our own…a place we belong to. We can find this place in our dreams or we can look for a reflection on a clear lake or we can find it within ourselves. Dreams can come true…but we must make them come true…with our eyes open…
In 552 AD, Yaquis were living in family groups along the Yaqui River (Yoem Vatwe) north to the Gila River, where they gathered wild desert foods, hunted game and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Yaquis traded native foods, furs, shells, salt, and other goods with many indigenous groups of central North America. Among these groups are the Shoshone, the Comanche, the Pueblos, the Pimas, the Aztecs, and the Toltec. Yaquis roamed extensively in pre-Columbian times and sometimes settled among other native groups like the Zunis. After contact with non-Natives, the Yaquis came into an almost constant 400 year conflict with Spanish colonists and the later Mexican republic, a period known as the Yaqui Wars, which ended in 1929. The wars drove many Yaquis north from Mexico and into Arizona.
Pascua Yaqui Tribe, San Juan Southern Paiute,
with the help of The Native American Rights Fund
gained federal recognition in September 1978. (see Activity Map)Yaqui Culture
Yaqui Historical Photos
Yaqui Kinship System
The Yaquis were well accustomed to the many parts of North America. By 552 AD, Yaquis were living in family groups along the Yaqui River (Yoem Vatwe) north to the Gila River, where they gathered wild desert foods, hunted game and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Yaquis traded native foods, furs, shells, salt, and other goods with many indigenous groups of central North America. Among these groups are the Shoshone, the Comanche, the Pueblos, the Pimas, the Aztecs, and the Toltec. Yaquis roamed extensively in pre-Columbian times and sometimes settled among other native groups like the Zunis.
On September 18, 1978, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona became federally recognized: the Pascua Pueblo Pueblo of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation officially came “into being”. The Pascua Yaquis have a status similar to other Indian tribes of the United States. This status makes the Yaqui eligible for specific services due to trust responsibility that the United States offers Native American peoples who have suffered land loss.
“A Yaqui Life: The Personal Chronicles of a Yaqui Indian”
Born in 1896 in Northwestern Mexico, Rosalio’s story begins during the Yaqui revolutionary period, continues through the last uprising in 1926, and ends with recollections of his life on a Texas farm until 1969.
“A Natural Education”
“It is a big task to be a human living on the earth at this time. Let us all help each other by respecting, nurturing and honoring the earth…she is a mother to us all!” – Stan Padilla
In the 70 years following his flight from the Yaqui-Mexican wars in Sonora, Savala became a talented poet and loving recorder of his people’s heritage. The original works in this book, together with the beautifully written autobiography, offer a unique view of Arizona Yagui culture and history, railroading in the American West, and the personal and artistic growth of a Native man of letters.
Felipe Molina Felipe Molina is a Yoeme (Yaqui) from Arizona. His background is in native education and literacy. His career includes teaching in Yaqui community schools and colleges from 1974-1991. Molina is a member of the Yaqui Language Commission of the Pascua Pueblo and from 1978-1980 he was governor of the Yoem Pueblo Marana, Arizona. He was Representative of the Yoem Pueblo on the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council from 1981-1982. Currently, Molina is Diabetes Project Coordinator for Native American Communities at native Seeds/SEARCH, a Tucson based nonprofit organization that promotes the preeervation of native plant resources.
The deer dancer is prominent in the Pascua Yaqui logo and Tribal symbol. The successful merger of ancient Yaqui traditions with Catholicism allows the deer dancer to remain a central feature of the spiritual lives of today’s Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. Pascua is Spanish for Easter, and it is during the Easter season that the deer dancer is most prominent, participating in ceremonies that depict events of this holy period.
Flowers are important to the Yaquis’ daily lives and ceremonies. They combine the ancient belief that the deer dancer is from a flower-filled spiritual world of natural beauty with the belief that Christ’s grace is symbolized by flowers that grew from blood that fell from Jesus’ wounds during the crucifixion. Flowers are believed to be powerful weapons against evil and are a prevailing symbol seen in elaborately embroidered floral designs on traditional Yaqui clothing.
Robert Valencia, Chairman
Pascua Yaqui Tribe
7474 S. Camino De Oeste
Tucson, AZ 85746
Toll Free 1-800-5-Pascua.
(above information valid August 2003)
“We honor all of our Yaqui Fighters, the link below shows how excellent at warfare our fighters were.”