THE LOWER PIMAS
THE LOWER PIMAS, or Pima Bajos, classified by Sauer into three groups, the Ures of the lower Sonora River, the Nebomes of the lower Mátape and middle Yaqui River valleys, the Yécoras of the Sierra Madre ( Sauer 1934: 3), were exposed to the same intensive mission influences as were the Opatas. The first Jesuit mission at Onabas among the Nebomes was probably established in 1621 ( Bannon 1955: 32). Both they and the Ures were converted soon after. The Yécoras were not completely Christianized until later in the century. The Lower Pimas, however, accepted the padres with considerably less enthusiasm than did their Opata neighbors. Mission accounts speak disparagingly of their lack of industry, devotion to drunkenness, and indifference to Christianity. The Nebomes joined the Seris in several revolts in the eighteenth century. Possibly as a result of this greater resistance to assimilation, they have survived as separate ethnic groups to a much greater extent than have the Opatas.
Of the three groups of Lower Pimas defined by Sauer, two, the Nebomes and the Yécoras, retain their language and remain distinct ethnic entities. As the present situation differs among the various Pima divisions, they will here be treated separately.
I visited the Nebomes at Onabas on two occasions and spent seven days with them. The Yécoras or mountain Pimas were visited more briefly, as was another Pima group to the north at La Junta, Chihuahua. The Ures Pimas were not contacted personally; information concerning them comes from casual observations around Ures and talks with non-Pimas from Ures and with Onabas Pimas. Thus, data dealing with this group was of necessity superficial.
Among the Pimas as a whole the writer noted a much greater degree of ethnic awareness and a pride of identity largely lacking among the Opatas. The Pimas are proud of their origin and prefer to be called Pimas. When speaking Spanish, the Nebomes often call themselves poblanos and the Yécoras call themselves paisanos. The terms Nebome and Yécora are not known. In their own language Lower Pimas call themselves O-o-dam.
The Pimas have retained a greater degree of physical differentiation from the non-Indians than have the Opatas. The great majority of the mountain Pimas show little or no Caucasian mixture. Consequently in these areas there is a definite and unmistakable line of physical demarkation between the Indians and gente de razon.
THE URES AREA of the middle Sonora River and surrounding ranches and rancherías has a population containing numerous families who are still called Pimas and who are still Indians physically. Probably there are between 200 and 250 of these people. From the available information it appears that these Pimas are going the way of the Opatas and that their situation is roughly similar. Although the Pima language was spoken by the old people within the last twenty years, it may now be gone as the young have not learned it. The Onabas Pimas tell of a settlement called Báhui a mile from Ures where they used to visit Pimas who spoke their language; this was some thirty years ago. It was mentioned by the Onabas group that most of the Ures Pimas now retain the "color" of Pimas, nothing else. A few additional Pima descendants are mentioned by the Sonorans as living around San Miguel de Horcasitas. I did not visit this town.
AT ONABAS on the lower Yaqui River is found the largest concentration of the remnants of the Nebomes. There are 125 living members of this group, 62 of whom are assertedly unmixed.