Potam: A Yaqui Village in Sonora

Potam: A Yaqui Village in Sonora

Potam: A Yaqui Village in Sonora

Potam: A Yaqui Village in Sonora

Excerpt

The Yaqui Indians, natives of Sonora in northwestern Mexico, are notable among non-Yaquis who know them on three counts. They were the last North American Indians to be regarded by white men as a serious military threat. They are at present among the most widely scattered of North American Indian groups. They have retained their own ethnic distinctness almost wherever they are to be found in Mexico or the United States.

The first of these characteristics has resulted in their gaining a reputation for being war-like, in common with other Indians who had some measure of success in resisting the war-like behavior of white men in their conquest of North America. Militaristic interests have not, however, been prominent throughout their history. They successfully resisted the first Spanish attempts at conquest, but then settled down to more than a century of peaceful cooperation with Jesuit missionaries and Spanish administrators. Except for a brief outbreak in 1740, they showed little interest in fighting again until the nineteenth century when one of their leaders had a vision of an independent Indian nation in northern Mexico. That vision was nourished by the disordered political condition of Sonora after the War for Independence and until the consolidation of the Diaz regime in the 1880's. Yaqui military successes in the latter decade were a reflection of an unusual personality ------ the Yaqui leader Cajeme ------ and a well-integrated culture, which grew out of the fusion of Spanish and Indian social organization and the adaptation of Christian and native religions.

Yaquis were not completely broken as a military threat even by 1900, although a decisive defeat was dealt them by Mexican troops in 1886. It was following this first defeat that their dispersal began, partly as a result of flight from their homeland in southern Sonora and partly as a result of systematic deportation by the Mexican government. At present Yaquis are reported from most of the states of Mexico, including Yucatan and Tabasco as well as the central and northern states. They are settled also in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada as well as in a few of the larger cities of central and eastern United States.

Wherever groups of Yaquis of any size are living close together, as in central and northern Mexico and in southwestern United States, they practice distinctive customs and maintain some . . .

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