Area and Population
The municipal area is 773.06 and the population was 1,464 in 2005, with 82% or 1,096 inhabitants residing in the town itself. (Two other smaller pueblos are part of the municipality; La Mora and Las Delicias.) There were 1.96 inhabitants per square kilometer in the municipality, which has been losing population since the census of 1995. The lack of economic opportunity has caused many people to emigrate, especially to the United States of America. There is anecdotal evidence that this emigration has been reversed with many former residents returning to the area as a result of the Financial crisis of 2007-2010 in the US.
Banámichi is approximately 135 miles (217 km) south of Bisbee, Arizona by road. The town lies on the east side of the Sonora River which defines the region. Much of the land above the river is mountainous and soils are poor. Land along the river bottom is generally more productive, producing alfalfa, fruit trees and small cash crops. There are still pine and oak trees in higher elevations, and some logging is carried out. The area still has wild life such as mule deer, big horn sheep, white tailed deer, bobcats, opossums, mourning dove, wild turkey, and quail. Mountain lion and Jaguar sightings have been reported in the higher elevations.
Education and Health Care
A state highway (Son 089) links the municipality with the state capital, Hermosillo to the south and the cities of Arizpe and Cananea to the north. There is an undeveloped air strip for small planes. Telecommunication services available are Telmex voice services, high speed ADSL internet and Telcel cellular services.
The main economic activities are agriculture and cattle raising with limited tourist activity. More than half the population works in these areas. Subsistence farming is carried out to produce corn and beans while most of the farming is of grasses for cattle feed. The cattle herd had over 10,000 head in 2000.
Industry is limited to a handful of micro industries and a modest plant assembling fish hooks for the North American market. The long abandoned Santa Elena gold and silver mine has been reopened, and employs upwards of 300 employees and contractors.
A small cottage industry making furniture of mesquite wood has developed with two carpentry shops producing rustic chairs, tables, beds, and other pieces.
The recently rebuilt Miguel Hidalgo Hidalgo Plaza is very attractive with a gazebo/bandstand in the center. Facing the plaza is the main church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, which was begun in the 17th century and retains its original structure with additions from the 1940s. The Palacio Municipal, or city hall, also faces the plaza. The city park on the main highway contains the Piedra Historica, an ancient petroglyph, being held aloft by statues of four imposing Opata warriors. Scholars believe the petroglyph represents an irrigation map. Just south of the town is the Bacachi warm springs pools. The town has a baseball stadium where the home team, the Halcones, play in the municipal league and games are often televised. Quarter horse racing takes place at a track near the airport.
Several of the cattle ranches in the area also serve as hunting lodges for organized hunting trips, typically run by professional hunting outfitters. La Posada del Río Sonora is an historic inn with a full restaurant, cafe, and cantina, located right on the main square. The main part of the hotel is remodeled from a 17th-century colonial adobe house. Other hotels in Banámichi are Hotel Los Arcos de Sonora, opened in 2009, a combination of a hundred-year-old restored adobe and modern construction. Los Arcos features a restaurant and is unique in that it is the only hotel in the area with a swimming pool, Los Dos Potrillos, and two smaller guest houses, Guest House Guely and Casa Rural León.
Origin of the name and History
The name is derived from the Opata word Banamitzi, which means, "Where the water turns" or "lowered by water". The region was once inhabited by the Opata people; in 1639 the Spanish missionary Bartolomé Castaños S.J. founded the settlement of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios de Banámichi. In 1930 it became part of the municipality of Arizpe and got its autonomy in 1931, with Banámichi as its municipal seat.