A Survey of Indian Assimilation in Eastern Sonora

By Thomas B. Hinton | Go to book overview

3
MODERN DISTRIBUTION OF OPATAS AND JOVAS

ALTHOUGH there have been extensive reshufflings of population from the arrival of the Spaniards to the present time, most of the area today is populated by families who have resided in the same district for many generations. The modern culture of the whole area is quite homogeneous, but there are variations in the ethnic make-up of the towns, a few being much more Indian in composition than others.

The people of all these municipios (the Mexican town unit with its lands) are primarily subsistence agriculturalists and small time cattlemen with, in addition, a few large cattlemen in the sierras. Home industries such as the twilling of palm hats, mescal making, wood cutting, etc., add to the meager income of many families. The last few decades have seen a heavy migration from all of these villages toward the new industrial and agricultural developments of western and southern Sonora.

Today Opata and Jova descendants are the only recognizable Sonoran Indian elements in this area. The groups of Yaquis who lived and worked in many towns and on ranches before the 1910- 1920 revolution are now gone, leaving only an occasional Yaqui here and there. Except for a few families in the Sierra Madre area, there are no Pima settlements in the region. The territory is much the same as that in which the Spaniards first encountered the Opatas four hundred years ago. I could not find any knowledge, in any of the villages, of the Eudeve dialect of Opata mentioned in earlier sources. The inhabitants of the old Eudeve towns refer to their Indian ancestors as Opatas. Only some Yaquis still know the word, using it to refer to a tribe somewhere to the north of them ( E. H. Spicer, personal communication). The term "Jova" is known by the general population only in the valley of Sahuaripa and the sierras to the east, although the Pimas and Varohios of the more distant mountains are familiar with it.

As the river valleys are the recognized geographical units, they will be used here as referents.


THE SAN MIGUEL RIVER

THE MAJOR VILLAGES of the San Miguel-- Cucurpe, Tuape, Pueblo Viejo, Meresichi and Opodepe--are now predominantly blanco and mestizos, although all have Indian families. At Cucurpe the few remaining families of Indians live in the pueblo viejo which adjoins the old mission church and on nearby ranches. South of Cucurpe, at Tuape, Pueblo,Viejo, Meresichi and adjacent ranches can be found the heaviest concentrations of Indians in the valley today.

In the area between Tuape and Meresichi perhaps a third of the population is considered as Indian. This holds for Pueblo Viejo, while the smaller settlement of Rodeo may be half Indian in composition. Tuape and Meresichi, although having substantial Indian minorities, have a smaller percentage, probably around thirty percent. In Opodepe the percentage probably does not exceed ten. Rayon at the south end of the valley has few inditos and little Indian association. As a whole, the San Miguel Valley can be pointed out as one of the major areas of Opata survival, probably having an Indian population of at least 15 percent.


THE SONORA RIVER

THE FORMER INDIAN towns of the Río Sonora area from Bacoachi through Arispe, Sinoquipe, Banámichi, Huépac, Aconchi, Baviácora,

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