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Jakko We'eria Yo'eme

Jakko We'eria Yo'eme means "Yaqui History"

Yaqui History

The Yaqui people have endured many hardships since the introduction of Europeans to the Americas. The Spanish first came into contact with the Yaqui in 1533, when Captain Diego de Guzman led an expedition through Mayo and Yaqui territory in what is now known as Northern Sinaloa and Southern Sonora. After decades of successful violent confrontations, Yaquis fended off occupation of their homeland, yet eventually entered into a peace agreement with Jesuit Spanish missionaries in 1617. The Yaqui lived in a mutually advantageous relationship with the Jesuits for 120 years. Most of them converted to Christianity while retaining many traditional beliefs.

The Yaqui prospered and the missionaries were allowed to extend their activities further north. Juan Bautista de Anza began his expedition from San Miguel de Horcasitas, Sonora –a Yaqui, Seri and Pima settlement, to San Francisco, California in 1775 taking Yaqui Indians as guides. The Jesuit success along the Rio Yaqui was facilitated by the fact that the nearest Spanish settlement was 100 miles away and the Yaqui were able to avoid interaction with Spanish settlers, soldiers and miners. Fortunately for them, epidemics of European diseases that destroyed many Indigenous populations appear not to have seriously impacted the Yaqui. The reputation of the Yaqui as warriors, plus the protection afforded by the Jesuits, perhaps shielded the Yaqui from Spanish slavers. The Jesuits persuaded the Yaqui to settle into eight towns: Bácum, Benem, Cócorit, Huirivis, Pótam, Rahum, Tórim, and Vícam which remain the spiritual and cultural epicenter of Yaqui language and culture.

During Mexico’s struggle for independence from Spain in the early 19th century, the Yaqui showed that they still considered themselves independent and self-governing. After Mexico won its independence, the Yaqui refused to pay taxes to the new government. A Yaqui revolt in 1825 was led by Juan Ignacio Jusacamea, otherwise known as Juan Banderas. Banderas wished to unite the Mayo, Opata, Pima, and Yaqui into a state that would be autonomous, or independent of Mexico. The combined indigenous forces temporarily drove the Mexicans out of their territories, but Banderas was eventually defeated and executed in 1833. This led to a succession of revolts as the Yaqui resisted the Mexican government’s attempts to gain control of the Yaqui and their lands. In 1897 a peace treaty was signed in Ortiz between the Yaquis and the Mexican government but in 1899 another serious outbreak of hostilities began which resulted in the bloody Mazocoba Massacre on January 18, 1900 in which several hundred natives led by Juan Maldonado Tetabiate were killed.

It was at this point in time, in the late 1890s and early years of the 1900s, that a large number of Yaqui people began traveling north to settle in the United States. Some Yaquis chose to relocate near Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, while others travelled into parts of Texas, including the El Paso and Lubbock areas, where groups of Yaquis had settled years earlier. Still others were recruited for employment on mule trains to California where work in the Gold Rush was abundant. Jose Maria Bonifacio Leyba Perez Cajeme came to California with his father to mine for gold, but would later return to Sonora to assist Yaqui resistance against Mexican President Porfirio Diaz’s ramped up campaign of “extermination and deportation” of Yaqui Indians. To this day, places in California’s Anza Borrego Desert named “Yaqui Pass”, “Yaqui Trail” and “Yaqui Well” memorialize this history and presence of Yaqui people in the area.

The Yaquis of Southern California acknowledge with deepest gratitude and respect, the original tribes that provided sanctuary and support to Yaqui people as they were being persecuted, enslaved and deported by the Mexican government during the presidency of Porfirio Diaz. Chiokoe uttesiavu to the Ipai/Lipai/Tipai (Kumeyaay), Payomkawichum, Cahuilla, Cupeño and Kwatsan nations.


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