Just about every Native
American tribe has their own creation story. This creation story comes
from the Apaches. Look for the similarities and differences betwwen their
story and the truth in Genesis!
Animals, elements, the solar system, and natural phenomena
are revered by the Apaches. That which is beyond their understanding is
always ascribed to the supernatural.
In the beginning nothing existed--no earth, no sky, no sun, no moon, only
darkness was everywhere.
Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the
other side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a
small bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. As if waking from
a long nap, he rubbed his eyes and face with both hands.
When he looked into the endless darkness, light appeared above. He looked
down and it became a sea of light. To the east, he created yellow streaks
of dawn. To the west, tints of many colours appeared everywhere. There
were also clouds of different colours.
Creator wiped his sweating face and rubbed his hands together, thrusting
them downward. Behold! A shining cloud upon which sat a little girl.
"Stand up and tell me where are you going," said Creator. But
she did not reply. He rubbed his eyes again and offered his right hand
to the Girl-Without-Parents.
"Where did you come from?" she asked, grasping his hand.
"From the east where it is now light," he replied, stepping
upon her cloud.
"Where is the earth?" she asked.
"Where is the sky?" he asked, and sang, "I am thinking,
thinking, thinking what I shall create next." He sang four times,
which was the magic number.
Creator brushed his face with his hands, rubbed them together, then flung
them wide open! Before them stood Sun-God. Again Creator rubbed his sweaty
brow and from his hands dropped Small- Boy.
All four gods sat in deep thought upon the small cloud.
"What shall we make next?" asked Creator. "This cloud is
much too small for us to live upon."
Then he created Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, Lightning-Maker, and some
western clouds in which to house Lightning-Rumbler, which he just finished.
Creator sang, "Let us make earth. I am thinking of the earth, earth,
earth; I am thinking of the earth," he sang four times.
All four gods shook hands. In doing so, their sweat mixed together and
Creator rubbed his palms, from which fell a small round, brown ball, not
much larger than a bean.
Creator kicked it, and it expanded. Girl-Without-Parents kicked the ball,
and it enlarged more. Sun-God and Small-Boy took turns giving it hard
kicks, and each time the ball expanded. Creator told Wind to go inside
the ball and to blow it up.
Tarantula spun a black cord and, attaching it to the ball, crawled away
fast to the east, pulling on the cord with all his strength. Tarantula
repeated with a blue cord to the south, a yellow cord to the west, and
a white cord to the north. With mighty pulls in each direction, the brown
ball stretched to immeasurable size--it became the earth! No hills, mountains,
or rivers were visible; only smooth, treeless, brown plains appeared.
Creator scratched his chest and rubbed his fingers together and there
"Fly north, south, east, and west and tell us what you see,"
"All is well," reported Hummingbird upon his return. "The
earth is most beautiful, with water on the west side."
But the earth kept rolling and dancing up and down. So Creator made four
giant posts--black, blue, yellow, and white to support the earth. Wind
carried the four posts, placing them beneath the four cardinal points
of the earth. The earth sat still.
Creator sang, "World is now made and now sits still," which
he repeated four times.
Then he began a song about the sky. None existed, but he thought there
should be one. After singing about it four times, twenty- eight people
appeared to help make a sky above the earth. Creator chanted about making
chiefs for the earth and sky.
He sent Lightning-Maker to encircle the world, and he returned with three
uncouth creatures, two girls and a boy found in a turquoise shell. They
had no eyes, ears, hair, mouths, noses, or teeth. They had arms and legs,
but no fingers or toes.
Sun-God sent for Fly to come and build a sweathouse. Girl- Without-Parents
covered it with four heavy clouds. In front of the east doorway she placed
a soft, red cloud for a foot-blanket to be used after the sweat.
Four stones were heated by the fire inside the sweathouse. The three uncouth
creatures were placed inside. The others sang songs of healing on the
outside, until it was time for the sweat to be finished. Out came the
three strangers who stood upon the magic red cloud-blanket. Creator then
shook his hands toward them, giving each one fingers, toes, mouths, eyes,
ears, noses and hair.
Creator named the boy, Sky-Boy, to be chief of the Sky-People. One girl
he named Earth-Daughter, to take charge of the earth and its crops. The
other girl he named Pollen-Girl, and gave her charge of health care for
Since the earth was flat and barren, Creator thought it fun to create
animals, birds, trees, and a hill. He sent Pigeon to see how the world
looked. Four days later, he returned and reported, "All is beautiful
around the world. But four days from now, the water on the other side
of the earth will rise and cause a mighty flood."
Creator made a very tall pinon tree. Girl-Without-Parents covered the
tree framework with pinon gum, creating a large, tight ball.
In four days, the flood occurred. Creator went up on a cloud, taking his
twenty-eight helpers with him. Girl-Without-Parents put the others into
the large, hollow ball, closing it tight at the top.
In twelve days, the water receded, leaving the float-ball high on a hilltop.
The rushing floodwater changed the plains into mountains, hills, valleys,
and rivers. Girl-Without-Parents led the gods out from the float-ball
onto the new earth. She took them upon her cloud, drifting upward until
they met Creator with his helpers, who had completed their work making
the sky during the flood time on earth.
Together the two clouds descended to a valley below. There, Girl- Without-Parents
gathered everyone together to listen to Creator.
"I am planning to leave you," he said. "I wish each of
you to do your best toward making a perfect, happy world.
"You, Lightning-Rumbler, shall have charge of clouds and water.
"You, Sky-Boy, look after all Sky-People.
"You, Earth-Daughter, take charge of all crops and Earth-People.
"You, Pollen-Girl, care for their health and guide them.
"You, Girl-Without-Parents, I leave you in charge over all."
Creator then turned toward Girl-Without-Parents and together they rubbed
their legs with their hands and quickly cast them forcefully downward.
Immediately between them arose a great pile of wood, over which Creator
waved a hand, creating fire.
Great billowy clouds of smoke at once drifted skyward. Into this cloud,
Creator disappeared. The other gods followed him in other clouds of smoke,
leaving the twenty-eight workers to people the earth.
Sun-God went east to live and travel with the Sun. Girl-Without- Parents
departed westward to live on the far horizon. Small-Boy and Pollen-Girl
made cloud homes in the south. Big Dipper can still be seen in the northern
sky at night, a reliable guide to all.
INFORMATION ON THE NAVAJO NATION
The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah , Arizona and New Mexico
, covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty. Diné
Bikéyah, or Navajoland, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America.
Visitors from around the world are intrigued and mystified when they hear
the Navajo language – so, too, were the enemy during World War II.
Unknown to many, the Navajo language was used to create a secret code
to battle the Japanese. Navajo men were selected to create codes and serve
on the front line to overcome and deceive those on the other side of the
battlefield. Today, these men are recognized as the famous Navajo Code
Talkers, who exemplify the unequaled bravery and patriotism of the Navajo
Navajo Nation Government
Today, the Navajo Nation is striving to sustain a viable economy for an
ever increasing population that now surpasses 250,000. In years past,
Navajoland often appeared to be little more than a desolate section of
the Southwest, but it was only a matter of time before the Navajo Nation
became known as a wealthy nation in a world of its own. The discovery
of oil on Navajoland in the early 1920's promoted the need for a more
systematic form of government.
In 1923, a tribal government was established to help meet the increasing
desires of American oil companies to lease Navajoland for exploration.
Navajo government has evolved into the largest and most sophisticated
form of American Indian government. The Navajo Nation Council Chambers
hosts 88 council delegates representing 110 Navajo Nation chapters.
See the Navajo Nation government in action as the 88 Council delegates
(representing 110 Navajo Nation chapters, or communities) discuss critical
issues and enact legislation to determine the future of the Navajo people.
Reorganized in 1991 to form a three-branch system (executive, legislative
and judicial), the Navajos conduct what is considered to be the most sophisticated
form of Indian government. While the Council is in session, you'll likely
hear delegates carry on the tradition of speaking in Navajo, providing
a perfect example of how the Navajo Nation retains its valuable cultural
heritage while forging ahead with modern progress. When the Council is
not in session, legislative work is done by 12 “standing committees”
of the Council. Inside the circular Council Chambers, the walls are adorned
with colorful murals that depict the history of the Navajo people and
the Navajo way of life. For more info about tours, call 928-871-6417 928-871-6417
or write to P.O. Box 1400 , Window Rock, AZ 86515.
Navajo Code Talkers
Navajo Code Talkers At Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division
signal officer, declared, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines
would never have taken Iwo Jima." Connor had six Navajo code talkers
working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. Those
six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error.
In May 1942, the first 29 Navajo recruits attended boot camp. Then, at
Camp Pendleton , Oceanside , California , this first group created the
Navajo code. They developed a dictionary and numerous words for military
terms. The dictionary and all code words had to be memorized during training.
Navajos could encode, transmit, and decode a three-line English message
in 20 seconds. Machines of the time required 30 minutes to perform the
same job. Approximately 400 Navajos were trained as code talkers.
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima : the Navajo code talkers took
part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942
to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions
and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio
in their native language -- a code that the Japanese never broke. Long
unrecognized because of the continued value of their language as a security
classified code, the Navajo code talkers of World War II were honored
for their contributions to defense on Sept. 17, 1992, at the Pentagon,
Washington, D.C. Excerpts taken from a Fact Sheet prepared by the Navy
& Marine Corps WWII Commemorative Committee.
The Navajo Nation Flag, designed by Jay R. Degroat, a Navajo from Mariano
Lake, New Mexico, was selected from 140 entries, and was officially adopted
by the Navajo Nation Council on May 21, 1968 by Resolution CMY-55-68.
On a tan background, the outline of the present Nation is shown in copper
color with the original 1868 Treaty Reservation in Dark Brown. At the
cardinal points in the tan field are the four sacred mountains. A rainbow
symbolizing Navajo sovereignty arches over the Nation and the sacred mountains.
In the center of the Nation, a circular symbol depicts the sun above two
green stalks of corn, which surrounds three animals representing the Navajo
livestock economy, and a traditional hogan and modern home. Between the
hogan and the house is an oil derrick symbolizing the resource potential
of the Tribe, and above this are representations of the wild fauna of
the Nation. At the top near the sun, the modern sawmill symbolizes the
progress and industry characteristic of the Navajo Nation's economic development.
The small park near the Navajo Nation Administration Center features the
graceful redstone arch for which the capital is named. The Navajo Nation
headquarters and other government offices were built in close proximity
to this mystical rock formation.
More recently, the Navajos have built a Veteran's Memorial at the base
of Window Rock to honor the many Navajos who served in the U.S. military.
Many Navajo soldiers are recognized in the annals of history for their
role as Code Talkers, whereby they used the native language to create
a code that was never broken by the enemy. Historians credit the Navajo
Code Talkers for helping to win World War II. The park has many symbolic
structures: a circular path outlining the four cardinal directions, 16
angled steel pillars with the names of war veterans, and a healing sanctuary
that is used for reflection and solitude that features a fountain made
of sandstone. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info call 928-871-6647
928-871-6647 or write to Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Dept., P.O.
Box 9000 , Window Rock, AZ 86515
The modern Navajo Museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the
rich and unique culture of the Navajo Nation. Native displays, a book
and gift shop, snack bar, auditorium, outdoor amphitheater, information
kiosk, library and on-site authentic Navajo hogan complete the center.
The Museum is open from 8am to 8pm Tuesday through Friday, and 8am to
5pm on Monday and Saturday. For more info call 928-871-7941 928-871-7941
, or write the museum at: P.O. Box 1840 , Window Rock, AZ 86515.
Information and Photos for this page provided courtesty of Navajo Nation
Tourism Office's "Discover Navajo: The Official Navajo Nation Visitor
History of the Apache
" Apache "
They call themselves
Inde, or Nide "the people".
NOTE; The following information was taken off a historical report
from the web. Be advised the cultural and spiritual information in this
report may have been accurate in the past, however, it may not still be
followed in present times. The Native Americans, for the most part, do
not themselves have written books and articles portraying their life and
customs. As times have changed, so have the people. Because centuries
ago there was little written about their cultural ways and spiritual beliefs,
each tribe and people group have adopted differences in their view of
what life is like and also their spiritual belief system. In other words,
the Native Americans of today probably have a different outlook on life,
culture, and their spiritual belief system from their past and do not
practice it as they did then.
The Apache people
The word Apache is believed to be derived from a Zuni word meaning "enemy".
The Apache Indians are divided into six sub-tribes
Chihenne....Chi-hen-ne, (Ojo Caliente), (Hot Springs)
Chokonen....Cho-kon-en, Chiricahua Apache
White Mountain Apache
The Apache people (including the Navajo) came from the Far North to settle
the Plains and Southwest around A.D. 850.
They settled in three desert regions, the Great Basin, the Sonoran, and
The Navajo are not part of the Apache nation. They are their own honored
nation. They only share the Athabscan language with the Apache. The Apache
speak the Athabscan language, which originated in their former homeland
of northwestern Canada.
These distinct groups can be organized by dialects:
The Western Apache (Coyotero) traditionally occupied most of eastern Arizona
and included the White Mountain, Cibuecue, San Carlos, and Northern and
Southern Tonto bands. San Carlos, Aravaipa, White Mountain, Northern Tonto,
Southern Tonto, and Cibecue in Arizona, Chiricahua and Mimbreno in Arizona
and New Mexico, Mescalero (Faraon) in New Mexico and Mexico, Jicarilla
(Tinde) in New Mexico and Colorado, Kiowa-Apache (Gataka) in Oklahoma,
and Lipan in Texas and Mexico. Western Apache (Coyotero), Eastern Arizona.
They exchanged buffalo hides, tallow and meat, bones that could be worked
into needles and scrapers for hides, and salt from the desert with the
Pueblos for pottery, cotton, blankets, turquoise, corn and other goods.
But at times they simply saw what they wanted and took it. They became
known among the Pueblo villages by another name, Apachu, "the enemy".
The Apache's guerrilla war tactics came naturally and were unsurpassed.
The name Apache struck fear into the hearts of Pueblo tribes, and in later
years the Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American settlers, which they raided
for food, and livestock.
The Apache and the Pueblos managed to maintain generally peaceful relations.
But the arrival of the Spaniards changed everything. A source of friction
was the activity of Spanish slave traders, who hunted down captives to
serve as labor in the silver mines of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. The
Apache, in turn, raided Spanish settlements to seize cattle, horses, firearms,
and captives of their own. The prowess of the Apache in battle became
legend. It was said that an Apache warrior could run 50 miles without
stopping and travel more swiftly than a troop of mounted soldiers.
In the late 1800's, one U.S. Army general who had fought them meant it
as a grudging compliment when he described the Apache as "tigers
of the human species."
The Apache saw themselves differently, they faced constant struggle to
survive. When they raided a village, they did so from pure necessity,
to provide corn for their families when game was scarce. Most of the time
they went their own way, moving from camp to camp in pursuit of deer and
buffalo, collecting roots and berries, sometimes planting seeds that they
later returned to harvest.
They set up their camps on the outskirts of the pueblos. They dressed
in animal skins, used dogs as pack animals, and pitched tent like dwellings
made of brush or hide, called wikiups. The wickiup was the most common
shelter of the Apache. The dome shaped lodge was constructed of wood poles
covered with brush, grass, or reed mats. It contained a fire pit and a
smoke hole for a chimney. The Jicarillas and Kiowa-Apaches, which roamed
the Plains, used buffalo hide tepees. The basic shelter of the Chiricahua
was the domeshaped wickiup made of brush.
The Apache regarded coyotes, insects, and birds as having been human
beings. The human race, then, but following in the tracks of those who
have gone before.
The Apache lived in extended family groups, all loosely related through
the female line. (Matriarchal).... Each group operated independently under
a respected family leader....settling its own disputes, answering to no
higher human authority.
The main exception to this occurred during wartime, when neighboring groups
banded together to fight a common enemy. Unlike ordinary raiding, where
the main object was to acquire food and possessions, war meant lethal
business. An act of vengeance for the deaths of band members in earlier
raids or battles.
Leaders of the local family groups would meet in council to elect a war
chief, who led the campaign. But if any one group preferred to follow
its own war chief, it was free to do so.
Apache bands that roamed the same area admitted to a loose cultural kinship.
The Jicarilla of northeastern New Mexico hunted buffalo in the plains,
planted corn in the mountains. The Mescalero to the south were hunter-gatherers
who developed an appetite for the roasted heads of wild mescal plants.
The Chiricahua, fiercest of all tribal groups, raided along the Mexican
border. The more peaceable Western Apache of Arizona spent part of each
year farming. Two other tribal divisions, the Lipan and Kiowa-Apache,
lived as plainsmen in western Kansas and Texas.
A strict code of conduct governed Apache life, based on strong family
loyalties. Each Apache group was composed of extended families or clans.
Basic social, economic, and political units based on female inherited
leadership. The most important bond led from an Apache mother to her children
and on to her children. Marriage within one's own clan is forbidden. When
the son married his obligations from then on were to his mother-in-law's
Beyond this code of propriety and family obligations, the Apache shared
a rich oral history of myths and legends and a legacy of intense religious
devotion that touched virtually every aspect of their lives.
Medicine Men presided over religious ceremonies. They believed in many
spirit beings. Usen, the Giver of Life, the most powerful of them all.
The Gans, or Mountain Spirits, were especially important in Apache ceremonies.
Males garbed themselves in elaborate costumes to impersonate the Gans
in ritual dance, wearing kilts, black masks, tall wooden-slat head-dresses,
and body paint carrying wooden swords.
The Mescalero band consisted of followers and a headman. They had no formal
leader such as a tribal chief, or council, nor a decision making process.
The core of the band was a "relative group", predominantly,
but not necessarily, kinsmen. Named by the Spanish for the mescal cactus
the Apaches used for food, drink, and fiber.
One author's characterization of the Mescalero Apache people of the past
is as follows: They moved freely, wintering on the Rio Grande or farther
south, ranging the buffalo plains in the summer, always following the
sun and the food supply. They owned nothing and everything. They did as
they pleased and bowed to no man. Their women were chaste. Their leaders
kept their promises. They were mighty warriors who depended on success
in raiding for wealth and honor. To their families they were kind and
gentle, but they could be unbelievably cruel to their enemies--fierce
and revengeful when they felt that they had been betrayed. (Sonnichsen
The Apaches were nomadic hunter-gatherers. They chased any wild game located
within their territory, especially deer and rabbits. When necessary, they
lived off the land by gathering wild berries, roots, cactus fruit and
seeds of the mesquite tree. They planted some corn, beans, and squash
as crops. They were extremely hardy prior to the arrival of European diseases,
and could live practically naked in zero temperature.
Many Apache bands were so influenced by the tribes they came into contact
that they took on many of their customs and practices. Western Apaches
living near the Pueblo Indians became farmers. Jicarilla Apaches pursued
the great buffalo herds like other Plains Indians, mounted on horses they
acquired through raids on the Spanish and Pueblos in the late 1600's.
Kiowa-Apaches became more like the Kiowa, a Plains tribe, than their own
Apache kin. The Lopans raised dogs for meat as many Mexican tribes to
In 1871 , the original White Mountain Reservation was established. It
contained today's Fort Apache and San Carlos reservations. In 1897, the
land was divided into two independent reservations.
The Original People
The original people that populated the United States are known by many
names; American Indians, Native Americans, Indians, The People, the First
People, and First Nations People to name a few. In the old days they called
us (everyone that was not Native American) Anglos and the white man.
We all 'know' from our history lessons in school that the Indians came
from Asia, thru Alaska and then settled in places all the way down to
the tip of South America tens of thousands of years ago. I think that
is partly true. I believe that when the people from Babylonia would not
go out to other areas and populate the entire earth as requested by God,
He sent them packing and carrying with them different languages. That’s
when they migrated thru Alaska and settled in villages all the way down
to South America just a few thousand years ago. However, when you learn
the Native American's version of how they came to live in this place,
it’s a totally different story and one for another time.
The purpose of this article will be to share with you some of the
basic facts about our Native American brothers and sisters from the Navajo
and White Mountain Apache Indian Reservations.
Native American Reservations: A reservation
is land that belongs to the Native Americans and is under their control.
They have their own government, set of law, police officers, and other
services just as the US Government has. The people are also American citizens
and are bound to all the laws and regulations of the US Government as
to their own. Respectively, when non Native Americans are on the reservation,
they are required to follow the laws of both the US Government and those
of the reservation.
Location: 260 miles northeast of Phoenix
Population (2000 Census): 104,565 (Arizona)
Enrolled Tribal Members: 255,543 (Total)
Land Area: 18,119.2 square miles (Arizona)
The Navajo refer to themselves as the Diné, or "the People".
In 1868, a peace treaty was signed allowing the Navajo people to return
to their homeland. Today, the Navajo Tribe represents the largest Indian
Tribe in the U.S. and stretches across the high deserts and forests of
the four corners region. Tourism has a significant role in the Navajo
Tribe's economy, as it is home to natural wonders such as Canyon de Chelly
and Rainbow Natural Bridge. The Navajo Nation is also home to Diné
College, the first tribally controlled community college in the country.
The college features a six story, hogan shaped cultural center.
White Mountain Apache Tribe
Location: 194 miles northeast of Phoenix
Population (2000 Census): 12,429Enrolled Tribal Members: 12,634
Land Area: 2600.7 square miles
Gaming: Yes (Hon-Dah Resort/Casino, located in McNary)
Established as the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in November, 1891 by
Executive Order, the area is now known as the White Mountain Apache Reservation.
The tribal members are direct descendants of the original tribes that
lived in this area. The White Mountain Apache live in a region that has
an abundance of natural resources and scenic beauty, and the tribe has
earned a national reputation for its network of enterprises, which include
a timber company, lumber hardware retail center, ski resort, and casino.
Gaming: There are many misconceptions by outsiders concerning
the profits from gaming. To start off, not all tribes condone and have
gambling casinos on their reservations. Those that do, have guidelines
to follow from the state, federal and tribal governments. Profits from
gaming rarely goes to the individual native American. Usually percentages
of the profits are divided up between the builders (for a specific time
frame), the state, and the Tribal Council. The Tribal Council has the
authority to distribute the profits as they deem necessary.
Health issues: Alcohol has always been a problem on
the reservation and with the building of casinos and the increased amount
of available alcohol the problem has skyrocketed. 1 in 10 Native American
deaths are alcohol related and that rate is three times higher than general
population, a federal report says.
American Indian teens take their own lives at more than two times the
rate of any other teen demographic in the USA, according to statistics
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most are kids who
do not have drugs or alcohol problems. Many come from financially comfortable
families, by Native American standards. And most don't leave a suicide
note, so their loved ones suffer the pain of regrets and self blame without
the relief of being able to know the true reasons for the suicide.
Religion: In the past, Native Americans did not have
a written religious belief system they could go to and study. They relied
on oral transference of their religious beliefs. No two tribes have exact
same beliefs of creation, gods and spirits. But they all do believe in
a "creator", lesser gods and many have the same sense of connection
to the elements (earth, wind, rain, sky etc.). They also have similar
ceremonies (including the right of passage for young women), dances and
beliefs in evil spirits. It is estimated that less than 7% of Native Americans
are followers of Christ.
Life on the reservation is tough. American Indians have
the highest rate of unemployment (on one reservation it is 69%) in the
country and they have the highest rate of poverty (2010 stats.) 28% on
the reservations compared to 9% off the reservation. Alcohol, drug, spouse
and child abuse are commonplace and on one particular reservation 6 women/girls
are raped each week. As the drop out rate for high school student’s
increase, so does the membership in gangs and the acts of violence in
There is a bright side to all this sadness and despair. Many people are
stepping up from the communities on the reservations and Christ followers
from around the country are joining forces to combat the evil that is
so prevalent on the reservations. Missionaries, pastors, Christian schools
and out reach programs on the reservations are making inroads and offering
the love of Christ and hope to those on the reservations. Progress is
There are 9 tribes in Sonora, and 8 of them still populate the state
and continue with their history and traditions.
The villages they use to live in were constructed according to the temperature
of the region; towns and villages were founded on the river banks and
agriculture was their economy.
They are rich and varied in their culture and extremely artistic.
We will highlight two tribes each month.
There can be friction between the Mexican people and the Indians of Mexico.
Be very cautious when speaking about one people group to another. It is
best not to take sides but to realize both groups may have valid reasons
for their particular views.
The same as their neighbors, The Jovas and the
Eudeves, the Opatas have already disappeared as a distinct ethnic unit.
The Opata dialect, classified within the Yuto-astec
family of the Taracahitiano group of the Sonora subfamily is nowadays
a dead language. Ever since 1950, Opata-speaking individuals have not
been registered and only some phrases and isolated words have been preserved.
The Opata dialect is part of the Taracahitian of Uto-Aztec branch. The
word Opata means “hostile people” in Pima dialect, and this
was the term used by the Pimas when they referred to the Opatas.
Opatas do not make any crafts except for their
basketwork. The pottery they make is for their own personal use. They
also make trays and wooden spoons.
The meeting points for the Opatas religious activities
are the catholic temples.
San Isidro Labrador is the most popular and venerated Saint in the whole
area and surrounding villages.
Seris refer to themselves as “KonKaak”
which means “the people”.
Seri means “the one that really runs fast” in Opata dialect.
The Konkaak dialect is part of the filum or Hokano
lineage, which also includes the Coahuilteco (Northwest of Mexico) and
According to several experts, Seris are part of
the Yumano group of the Sioux-Hokana.
Their craftmanship focuses primarily in iron-wood-carving, knitting and
weaving of “coritas” (baskets) and the necklace production.
Iron-wood carving started, as stated by people sayings, in 1964 by Don
Josè Astorga Encinas in a critical moment for the tribe, who needed
incomes to survive.
Seris people never developed a very complex festive-religious
government system. Their interpretation of the world , their rituals,
their festivities and cultural manifestations are closely related to nature
and the biological and social concept of the group’s reproduction.
Their major festivities are still those celebrating the “puberty”,
the arrival of the seven edges cahuama, the rite of the dead man and those
related to the Seri’s New Year and the end of the “coritas”
The term Pima means “there is no”,
“it doesn’t exist”, “I don’t have”,
or probably “I don`t understand”. Pimas call themselves O’ob,
which means “the people”.
The Pima dialect is partof the Yuto-Aztec stem, composed of the Taracachita(Corahuichol),
Nahua and Pima or Pimana branch or subgroup.
Long ago Pima women made pots, palm products and
woolen garments . Pimas make products with vegetable fibers, such as hats,
mats, suitcases or rectangular baskets with lids or covers to store all
kinds of things.
Christianity taught by the missionaries had to
be adapted to their native language and mentality. In addition , the diverse
indigeneous groups added substancial elements of their own religion, rituals
and ceremonies, and finally the Pimas ended up accepting San Francisco
as their patron saint.
The conflicts between native and non native populations,
in addition to other less symbolic manidifestations, appear dramatized
in their festivities and celebrations. Celebrations held at the ceremonial
centers differ from those observed in the communities.
Some festivities organized in the ceremonial centers are:
. La Santa Cruz (May 3rd)
. Holy Week ceremonies
. The celebration of San Francisco (October 4th),
. The Virgin of Guadalupe Day” (December 12)
The community celebrations are agrarian rituals that commemorate relevant
stages of the agricultural cycle, such as:
. The “Yoreme”, or the San Juan Bautista festivity (June 14)
which is celebrated with ritual bathes honoring the rain.
to the group’s tradition, the word “Mayo” means “people
from the shore”. Mayos refer to themselves as “yoremes”,
“ people who respect tradition”, and call white men “yori”
“those who show no respect”.
The Mayo dialect is part of the Taracahitiana
family, of the cahita sub-family with Uto-Azteca roots, and it is related
to the Yaqui and the Guarijìo dialects.
Craftsmanship is not the main activity for the
Mayo`s economy. Wool blankets, dyed wool strips woven in waist looms,
water pots,stick mats, different kinds of baskets, harps and violins.
In their rites, chants and dances, the nature
has a provider role. It is the world supplier. This is expressed in the
character that dancers represent as deer and the pascola.
One of the Mayo legends tells how “God created
gold for the Yoris and working instruments for the Yoremes”
The Mayo religion is structured around their ceremonial
centers or traditional towns, composed of small commnunities congregated
around their saints.
call themselves “Tohono O’odham”, which means “people
of the desert”.
This ethnic group lives in the desert of Sonora
Arizona. They occupy Caborca, Rocky Point, Sàric, Altar and Plutarco
Elìas Calles. This group has two nationalities, but most of them
live in Arizona (United States of America). Its territory extends to the
mid-valley and the elevated portion of the Gila River.
O’odham dialect is closely related with
Pima dialect, and both comprise the Pimana branch of the Yetonahua .
In July they celebrate the traditional ritual
to invoke the rain “Vi ikita”, and on October 4th they have
a celebration honoring their patron saint, San Francisco de Asis.
call themselves “Macurawes or Macuraguis”, which means “those
who hold the soil”. Several historical documents refer to them as
Ehíos, Varojíos, Warojios and Gaurijios.
Linguistically speaking, Guarijíos belong to the group Nahua-Huitlateco,
Yulo-Nahua stock and Pima Cora family. They make handcrafts with natural
materials like palm, clay, branches, and fibers, with which they weave
baskets, mats, hats, angarias or angarillas (baskets made with three hoops
of braided branches) and a natural fiber net used to carry objects hung
on the back.
They are very religious, combining pre-Hispanic and catholic elements.
Their main festivities are:
End of the year celebrations
Cava pizca celebration.
The Tuguarda or Tuburada is the major celebration with greater presence
throughout the year. The Guarijì man must have three of these
celebrations in his lifetime, while women must have four because they
are considered to have “more of a tendency to sin and must pay
for it”. This festivity is held for diverse community reasons,
in addition to those marked by the catholic calendar.
history of the Yaqui is full of acts of heroic resistance in order to
defend their territory and culture, an ancestral culture enriched by its
rites and traditions, where the “Danza del Venado” (The Deer
Dance) stands out; this is the symbolic representation of the deer hunt,
and its artistic richness has generated an enormous interest around the
In 1523, the first white man trying to conquer the Yaqui territory was
Diego de Guzman, but he failed. During the 17th century, Diego Martìnez
de Hurdaide made a second military incursion, but was defeated again;
yet, this time a Peace Treaty was signed with the Yaqui people. This smoothed
the progress for the acknowledgment of two Jesuit missionaries, Andrès
Pèrez and Tomàs Basilio, who also influenced the organization
of the group. They started the concentration and regrouping of the Yaqui
Given that they were scattered in 80 communities and 8 villages: Cocorit
o Espíritu Santo, Santa Rosa de Bacum, San Ignacio de Torim, La
Natividad del Señor de Vicam, Santísima Trinidad de Potam,
La Asunción de Rahúm, Santa Bárbara de Huirivis and
San Miguel de Belén.
They make pottery and woven baskets, as well as carved-wood masks and
drums used in their dances and festivities.
Yaqui tribes are very religious people, and their spirituality extends
to all their activities and is apparent primarily in their collective
dances and festivities. The Virgen del Carmen is their patron saint.