Last modified: 2012-11-17 by rick wyatt
Keywords: pascua yaqui | arizona | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 24 January 2008
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Pascua Yaqui - Arizona
Just outside Tucson, Arizona lies a patch of desert, 1,150 acres big. This is the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. It is one of five Yaqui communities in central Arizona. The others are Guadalupe in the Phoenix area, the Old Pascua village in downtown Tucson, Barrio Libre in South Tucson and Yoem Pueblo near Marana. The last one, the Yoem Pueblo, bears the true name of the Yaqui people - the Yoeme. It is aYaqui word meaning "people", a common way of referring to one's own Tribe throughout the Native population of North America (Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona - General Information, undated pamphlet, published by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe).
The Yoeme were dubbed the Yaqui by Spanish explorers who reached Yaqui lands along Mexico's Rio Yaqui in 1533. The confusion between languages led the Spanish to assume the Yoeme word "Hiaki" was the name of the people they had met. It actually meant "speech". The hiaki mutated into "Yaqui" and the name has been used ever since. In the 1880s, many of the Yaqui fled ongoing persecution by the Mexican government and sought a haven in southern Arizona (ibid..). The modern reservation, originally only 202 acres is size, was ceded to the Pascua Yaqui in 1964 and the Tribe received federal recognition in 1978. Today the Pascua Yaqui number about 13,000 members (Pascua Yaqui Tribe - Enrollment Department, undated pamphlet, Pascua Yaqui Tribe).
The entrance to the modern reservation is dominated by the Tribal Administration complex and the adjoining Casino of then Sun. These main buildings act as a backdrop for the display of both the tribal seal and flag.
The Yaqui settled in what is now the Old Pascua Village in northern Tucson, Pascua means Easter in Spanish and may recall the date of the settling of the village. The village was absorbed into the city in 1952. They also settled in the village of Guadalupe. Near Scottsdale. Both these settlements still are centers of Yaqui culture.
Recalling the "Pascua" or Easter portion of the Tribe's name and the unique merging of Yaqui cultural tradition with their Catholic faith brought to them by the Jesuits, the tribal seal of the Pascua Yaqui Nation features a Christian cross. It bears the rising sun of of Achai Taa'ah and most significantly, the deer dancer. The "Deer Dancer" was incorporated into Catholic celebrations to ease the adoption of the European based faith by the Aztecean Yaqui people. The "Deer Dancer" is a major participant in the Tribe's Palm Sunday festivities and the Tribe, as a whole is noted for its elaborate Easter celebrations. He is a traditional symbol of good in the Yaqui culture and originates "from a spiritual realm of bright, beautiful flowers that are empowered to destroy evil and bring out goodness". The seal also bears a crescent moon of Maala Mecha hanging over a landscape expressing the stark beauty of the Sonoran desert and the dominant plant feature - the Saguaro cactus.
© Donald Healy 2008
The flag combines elements of the seal, the colors of the United States, the land that gave the Yaqui refuge and the form of the flag of Mexico, their traditional homeland. The flag is comprised of three vertical stripes. Starting at the innermost or hoist, the stripes are blue, white and red. The central white stripe being approximately one and a half times the width of the others. The official explanation of the flag is as follows: