Journal of the Southwest
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volume 34, number 1 Spring 1992Special Issue Hiakim: The Yaqui Homeland

The Journal of the

Contents Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 1992

edited by
Joseph Carlton Wilder

University of Arizona Press
The Southwest Center


Hiakim: The Yaqui Homeland

The Holy Dividing Line: Inscription and Resistance in Yaqui Culture.


This is where the matter stood when at the end of July 1991 we dropped the manuscript of this essay off at the offices of the Journal of the Southwest. At the same time we sent copies to a few colleagues for their comment. One went to Donald Bahr, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, whose careful reading of the manuscript has greatly strengthened it. Another went to Rosamond Spicer. On August 2, Roz Spicer called: "Larry, I found some files that slipped down behind the drawers. I think you and Felipe should come out and look at them."

We arranged to spend a morning at the Spicer house a few days later. An exciting morning it was for us. Roz dug out photographs she had taken in Potam, and she and Felipe were able to find photographs of a number of the Yaquis we knew only by name from our conversations with Don Alfonso. Meanwhile Larry read the lost file Roz discovered. It did indeed contain a typescript of Juan Valenzuela's version of the "Testamento" dated March 12, 1942. That version is published below. Access to the 1942 typescript of Juan Valenzuela's version quickly answered some of the questions we labor over above. It existed, and in essentially the form and with the parts contained in Don Alfonso's version. That is, we were wrong about our speculation that the second part was added in the early 1950s. But other questions remained. Especially, what were the circumstances under which the typescript was made? Was Spicer's typescript the first written version of this narrative? Roz generously showed us the drawers of files and invited us to have a look for anything that might help. In a few minutes we located a file titled "Potam Draft and Fieldnotes" and in that file two wonderful sketches: one a portrait titled "Juan M. Valenzuela," the other an account of the recording of Valenzuela's stories at Rahum titled "Mythology." In "Mythology," Spicer writes of the stories:

they are not tight little literary creations which could be the product of one man, by any means. They could have been, I suspect, written out in a dozen different versions. Juan himself might have written them otherwise than he did in his blue line-ruled notebook. He did not seem deeply concerned that we should get the words down on our typed copies precisely as he had them. He was much more interested in explaining what was meant.

So Juan Valenzuela had a version of the "Testamento" written down in a line-ruled notebook before he met with Spicer. Indeed, in his fieldnotes for March 2, 1942, Spicer indicates that Juan Valenzuela himself reported that the Yaquis at Rahum had enjoyed an active engagement with books and writing until it was disrupted: "In Rahum they used to have many things such as typewriters and books, but these were lost when everybody took to the hills. Everyone left Rahum in 1927 and went into the hills. They are trying to raise enough money to buy another typewriter but so far everyone there is too poor."


Bahr, Donald M. "Easter, Keruk, and W :gita." In N. Ross Crumrine and Rosamond B. Spicer, eds., Semana Santa in Northwest Mexico: A Comparative Study of Easter Ceremonialism. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, forthcoming.

Bartell, Gilbert Duke. "Directed Culture Change Among the Sonoran Yaquis." University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology. Ph.D. diss., 1964.

Basso, Keith H., and Ned Anderson. "A Western Apache Writing System: The Symbols of Silas John." In Ben G. Blount and Mary Sanchez, eds., Language, Thought, and Culture: Advances in the Study of Cognition, 227-52. New York: Academic Press, 1977. Western Apache Language and Culture. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1990.

Bricker, Victoria Reifler. The Indian Christ, The Indian King: The Historical Substrate of Maya Myth and Ritual. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981.

Cameron, Ralph. "'inyamat 'inychxa `inychaviish/My Land, My Water, My Mountains." In Leanne Hinton and Lucille J. Watahomigie, eds., SpiritMountain, 259-60. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1984.

Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Crumrine, N. Ross, and Phil C. Weigand, eds. Ejidos and Regions of Refuge in Northwestern Mexico. Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona 46. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987.

Dedrick, John M. "Las Cartas en Yaqui de Juan `Bandera."' Tlalocan 10 (1985) :119-87. "Testamento Principal." Manuscript in Dedrick's possession, 11 pp. (Copy in Evers/Molina files.) Letter to Evers. 24 July 1990. Letter to Evers. 13 August 1990.

Deloria, Vine, Jr. God Is Red. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1973.

Dundes, Alan, ed. The Flood Myth. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Evers, Larry, and Felipe S. Molina. Yaqui Deer Songs: Maso Bwikam. Tucson: Sun Tracks and University of Arizona Press, 1987. "With Good Heart: Two Views." Journal of the Southwest 29, 1 (Spring 1987):96-106. Wo'i Bwikam: Coyote Songs. Tucson: CHAX Press, 1990.

Fabila, Alfonso. Las Tribus Yaquis de Sonora. Mexico: Departamento de Asuntos Indigenas, 1940.

Giddings, Ruth Warner. "Folk Literature of the Yaqui Indians." University of Arizona, M. A. Thesis, 1945. "Yaqui Oral Folk Literature: Supplement to Chapter 2 of Folk Literature of the Yaqui Indians." Archive, Arizona State Museum, 1945. Yaqui Myths and Legends. Edited by Harry Behn. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1959 ("Originally issued as Anthropological Paper No. 2").

Goddard, Ives, and Kathleen J. Bragdon. Native Writing in Massachusett. 2 vols. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1988.

Goody, Jack, ed. Literacy in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

Gouy-Gilbert, Cecile. Una Resistencia India: Los Yaquis. Mexico: Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1985. Translation of Une Resistance Indienne. Lyon: Federop, 1983.

Henry, Jeannette, ed. Indian Voices: The First Convocation of American Indian Scholars. San Francisco: The Indian Historian Press, 1970.

Holden, William Curry. Studies of the Yaqui Indians of Sonora, Mexico. Texas Technological College Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 1, 1936.

Horcasitas, Fernando. "An Analysis of the Deluge Myth in Mesoamerica." In Dundes, ed., The Flood Myth, 183-219. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Hu-DeHart, Evelyn. Missionaries, Miners, and Indians: Spanish Contact With the Yaqui Nation of Northwestern New Spain, 1533-1820. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1981. Yaqui Resistance and Survival: The Struggle for Land and Autonomy, 1821-1910. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

Johnson, Jean B. El Idioma Yaqui. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, 1962.

Kelley, Jane Holden. "`Law Talk,' Mobilization Procedures, and Dispute Management in Yaqui Society." Kiva 54, 2 (1989):79-104.

Krupat, Arnold. "Post-Structuralism and Oral Literature." In Swann and Krupat, eds., Recovering the Word, 113-28. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Lemmon, Alfred E. "Un Jesuita Visto Por Un Indio Yaqui (1747)." Tlalocan 8 (1980):279-88.

Lutes, Steven V "Yaqui Indian Enclavement: The Effects of an Experimental Indian Policy in Northwetem Mexico." In Crumrine and Weigand, eds., Ejidos and Regions of Refuge in Northwestern Mexico, 11-20. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987.

McGuire, Thomas R. Politics and Ethnicity on the Rio Yaqui: Pbtam Revisited. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986.

Olavarria, Ma. Eugenia. Analisis Estructural de la Mitologia Yaqui. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia, 1989.

Ortiz, Alfonso. The Tewa World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969.

Painter, Muriel Thayer, Refugio Savala, and Ignacio Alvarez, eds. A Yaqui Easter Sermon. University of Arizona Bulletin Series. Social Science Bulletin, No. 26. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1955.

Perez Garcia, Maria Elena. "Authoridades Tradicionales de la Tribu Yaqui." America Indioena 49, 2 (1989):393-98.

Reder, Stephen, and Karen Reed Green. "Contrasting Patterns of Literacy in an Alaska Fishing Village." International Journal of the Sociology ofLanguage42 (1983):9-39.

Said, Edward. The World, the Text, and the Critic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.

Sheridan, Thomas E. "How to Tell the Story of a'People Without History': Narrative versus Ethnohistorical Approaches to the Study of the Yaqui Indians Through Time." Journal of the Southwest 30, 2 (1988):168-89.

Spicer, Edward H. The Yaqus: A Cultural History. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1980. Potam, A Yaqui Village in Sonora. American Anthropological Association Memoir No. 77. Menasha, Wisconsin: American Anthropological Association, 1954. Spicer Collection, MS-5, Arizona State Museum Archives, Tucson, Arizona. "Myths-Rahum, Juan Valenzuela," a file in the possession of Rosamond B. Spicer."Juan Valenzuela" and "Mythology" in "Potam draft and field notes," a file in the possession of Rosamond B. Spicer.

Spicer, Rosamond B. "A Full Life Well Lived: A Brief Account of the Life of Edward H. Spicer." Journal of the Southwest 32, 1 (1990):317.

Swann, Brian, and Arnold Krupat, eds. Recovering the Word: Essays on Native American Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Tedlock, Dennis. "From Voice and Ear to Hand and Eye." Journal of American Folklore 103 (1990):133-56.

Vazquez, Juan Adolfo. The Field of Latin American Indian Literatures. Latin American Reprint Series, no. 14. Pittsburgh: Center for Latin American Studies, 1978.


1. When we are able to work from tape recordings we present our transcriptions and translations in lines. Line breaks indicate pauses on the original recording. A related issue has to do with the spelling of proper names. Our practice is as follows: In the transcription and translation of the "Testamento," we followed Don Alfonso's usage exactly. And, in quotations, of course, we also follow Don Alfonso. In referring to Yaqui place names elsewhere, we use current Yaqui spellings, as provided by Felipe Molina. A map standard spelling is given in parentheses.

2. Literally "the ones with knives," fr. Yaqui kuchi'im, "knives."

3. Italics here and following indicate material written solely by Felipe S. Molina.

4. See Gilbert Duke Bartell, "Directed Change Among the Sonoran Yaquis" (Univ. of Arizona: Ph.D. diss., 196¢), for a discussion of the founding of the Guasimas fishing cooperative.

5. We quote some of Miki Romero's recollections of these times on "The Mescal Agave Talks Like That " a poster published as a part of "Singing Down Roots," an exhibition organized by Paul Mirocha on plant folklore of the Sonoran Desert, Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona, 1990.

6. The total time the Spicers spent in Potam and the Rio Yaqui area was of course longer than this. It is detailed in Potam 3-4.

7. Thomas E. Sheridan suggests that the "sense of history" of Yaquis such as Juan Valenzuela deeply affected Spicer's own developing understanding of the importance of history to anthropology (171).

8. An item in the Spicer Collection Arizona State Museum Archives, which is dated 13 April 1942 and which appears to be an outline of Giddings's thesis, indicates that Spanish language texts existed in their working files at the time. We assumethat in deference to the wishes of the Yaquis with whom they worked, Spicer and Giddings chose not to publish those texts.

9. One such translation, English to Spanish, of Giddings's "The Flood and the Prophets" does now exist in Ma. Eugenia Olavarria, Analisis Estructural de la Mitologia Yaqui 73 74 a study published in 1989.

10. See Giddings, Folk Literature, and Fabila, Las TribusYaqui, 216 18, on Ambrosio Castro.

11. It was also of course, a time of significant changes globally as World War11 got underway, and a difficult time to be working in the Rio Yaqui area. The Spicers were evacuated from the Rio Yaqui area along with other North Americans in April 1942, cutting short their stay in Potam (Rosamond Spicer 1990:15).

12. This is a point made by Gerald Burns of performance and interpretation of the central Hebrew text, the Torah. Burns is quoted in Arnold Krupat, "Post Structuralism and Oral Literature," 123. See also Dennis Tedlock's discussion of the practice of Quiche Mayan writers in "From Voice and Ear to Hand and Eye," especially 11 12.

13. By way of comparing the "Testamento" to other "flood myths" it is interesting to note that Fernando Horcasitas's extensive review of Mexican flood myths indicates that a major characteristic is that "none of them emphasize the causes of the cataclysm." He speculates that "the myths that do contain explanations are strongly influenced by European ideas" (Horcasitas 1988:186). This comparative perspective turns first impressions of the question of influence around, as the "Testamento" advances no explanations for the flood.

14. Note a similar move as the single group of survivors in Genesis, Noah and his family, give way in the Yaqui "Testamento" to include some 53 persons and 21 domestic animals saved on 8 different peaks throughout Yaqui land. See Spicer, The Yaquis, 167.

15. Don Alfonso uses u eteori lei /law talk, sealei /flower law and Yaqui law as equivalent. See Jane Kelley, "Law Talk," and Spicer, Potam , where he writes: "it is believed that all procedure in church and village meetings is based on such law which once existed in written form" (163).

16. A letter from the office of Ernest W McFarland, Governor of the State of Arizona, dated April 30, 1958, indicates that "General Juan Sopohumea Bahicea, Jose Guadalupe Gonzales Paredes and Antonio Mabis today conferred with Governor McFarland at his offices in the Capitol Building in Phoenix, Arizona" (Evers/Molina files).

17. Lutes, in "Yaqui Indian Enclavement," reports, "During my stay in Potam [197576], no less than seven delegations were sent to Mexico City in order to discuss problems thought to involve the tribe's rights under the 1936 decrees. Such grievances usually center around land disputes" (14).

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