Pascua Yaqui Tribe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Flag of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe (Yaqui language: Pasqua Hiaki) is a federally recognized tribe of Yaqui Native Americans in southern Arizona.

Descended from the Yaqui people whose homelands stretched from the modern day southwestern United States south into northern Mexico, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe sought refuge from the United States government during the Mexican Revolution. The United States subsequently recognized lands that were part of Yaqui ancestral territories near Nogales and south Tucson in the early 1800s. In the early 20th century, the tribe began to return to settlements south of Tucson in an area they named Pascua Village, and in Guadalupe, near Tempe. They gained recognition by the United States government on September 18, 1978.


In ancient times, Yaquis were living in family groups along the Yaqui River (Yoem Vatwe) north to the Gila River, where they gathered wild desert foods, hunted game and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Yaquis traded native foods, furs, shells, salt, and other goods with many indigenous groups of central North America.Yaquis roamed extensively in pre-Columbian times and sometimes settled among other native groups like the Zunis. After contact with non-Natives after the Spanish arrival in the 1500s, the Yaquis came into an almost constant conflict with Spanish colonists and the later Mexican republic, a period known as the Yaqui Wars, which ended in 1929. The 400 years of wars with the occupiers sent many Yaquis north from Mexico back into Arizona, and the southwestern United States.[citation needed]


This image shows the location of the Pascua Pueblo Yaqui Reservation in Pima County, Arizona.

In 1964, Congressman Morris K. Udall introduced a bill in Congress for the transfer to the Tribe of 202 acres (0.82 km2) southwest of Tucson. The bill was approved in August 1964 and the Pascua Yaqui Association, a nonprofit Arizona corporation, was formed to receive the deed for the land from the federal government. In early 1977, Mr. Raymond Yberra and Mr. Anselmo Valencia, representing the Pascua Yaqui Association, met with US Senator Dennis DeConcini (D -AZ) to urge him to introduce legislation to provide complete federal recognition of the Yaqui people living on the property conveyed to the Pascua Yaqui Association by the United States through the Act of October 8, 1964. (78 Stat. 1197). Senator DeConcini introduced S.1633 on June 7, 1977. After extensive hearings and consideration, it was passed by the senate on April 5, 1978. It was accepted by the Conference Committee with the House of Representatives and the Conference Report was passed by the Senate. It became public law, PL 95-375, on September 18, 1978. The law provides for all federal services and benefits including those provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. It gives the tribe powers of self-government, with Reservation status for Yaqui lands.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona received designation as a historical tribe in 1994. In 1988 the Tribe's first constitution was approved. The Pascua Pueblo Yaqui Reservation (32°06′56″N 110°04′48″W / 32.11556°N 110.08000°W / 32.11556; -110.08000) is located in Pima County, in the southwestern part of the Tucson metropolitan area, amidst the suburban communities of Drexel Heights and Valencia West, and adjacent to the eastern section of the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, known as the San Xavier Indian Reservation. It has a land area of 4.832 km² (1.8657 sq mi, or 1,194 acres), and a 2000 census resident population of 3,315 persons, over 90 percent of whom are Native Americans. The community is governed by a chairman, a vice chairman and nine tribal council members. Police protection is provided by the Tribal Police Department, and fire protection is provided by six full-time firefighters and four reserves.


Though many members of the tribe adhere to Christian teachings, predominantly Catholicism, the culture of the Pascua Yaqui has preserved a rich legacy of native cultural elements that have survived the influence of missionaries. The Tribe has accepted political integration into American society, but continues to retain much of their former religious and cultural ways of life.

The Yaqui people have a rich oral tradition related to their history that is passed down from one generation to the next.

Complexities occur for the preservation of Yaqui religious tradition considering that the Yaqui people are divided by an international boundary. The majority, if not all, of the Yaqui ceremonial leaders are located in Mexico and must cross the border between the United States and Mexico in order for Yaqui ceremonies to be held in accordance with annual calendars.


The Tribal government is the largest employer on the reservation. In addition to a smoke shop and artisan shop, the Tribe operates the Casino of the Sun gaming facility, which includes slot machines, bingo, restaurants, games and employs more than 600 staff. Casino Del Sol, the Tribe's second gaming property, opened October 2001[1] and has provided an additional 550+ jobs on the reservation and in the Tucson Community. The expansion of Casino Del Sol opened November 11, 2011.[2] An additional 700 jobs were provided to the community with the expansion.


A tribal council is made up of eleven elected officials, dedicated to the well being and advancement of their tribe as a whole.

The Yaqui Tribal Council 2016–2020::[3] Peter Yucupicio, Chairman; Robert Valencia, Vice-Chairman; Mary Jane Buenamea, Secretary; Raymundo Baltazar, Treasurer; Antonia Campoy, Council Member; Francisco Munoz, Council Member; Francisco Valencia Council Member; Herminia Frias, Council Member; David Ramirez, Council Member; Rosa Soto Alvarez, Council Member; Cruzita Armenta, Council Member

The list of Council members from 2012 to 2016 was:

Peter Yucupicio Chairman, Catalina Alvarez Vice Chairwoman, Francisco Munoz Treasurer, John Escalante Council Member, Marcelino Flores Council Member, Robert Valencia Council Member, Raymond Buelna Council Member, David Ramirez Council Member, Mary Jane Buenamea Council Member, Rosa Soto Alvarez Council Member, Cruzita Armenta Council Member.

The Pascua Yaquis have a status similar to other Native American tribes of the United States. This status makes the Yaqui eligible for specific services due to trust responsibility that the United States offers Native American peoples who have suffered land loss.

A U.S. government assisted news letter, Yaqui Times, also helps in keeping the people of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe informed.

Blood quantum for membership in the Pascua Yaqui Tribe is at least one quarter Yaqui blood. The Pascua Yaqui legal system gives no allowance in quantum for other tribal blood (for instance, a person with one-eighth Yaqui blood, one-eighth Tohono O'odham blood, and one-eighth Maricopa blood cannot be accepted for membership in the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.)


The Pascua Yaqui Tribe operates a Judicial Department with both trial courts and an appellate court. Criminal cases are prosecuted by a Prosecutor's Office.[4] Representation for indigent individuals is available through the Public Defender's Office.[5] The Tribe is represented by the Attorney General's Office.[6] All of these functions and a tribal police department are located in a modern Multi-Purpose Justice Center, which was opened in 2012.[7]

2013 Violence Against Women Act Pilot Project

Since the Supreme Court's majority opinion in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, the tribal courts were forbidden to try a non-Indian, unless specifically authorized by the Congress. The passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) signed into law on March 7, 2013 by President Barack Obama authorized the tribal courts to try a non-Indian who is charged with domestic violence towards a Native American. This was motivated by the high percentage of Native American women being assaulted by non-Indian men, feeling immune by the lack of jurisdiction of Tribal Courts upon them. This new law generally takes effect on March 7, 2015, but also authorizes a voluntary "Pilot Project" to allow certain tribes to begin exercising special jurisdiction sooner.[8] On February 6, 2014, three tribes were selected for this Pilot Project:[9] the Pascua Yaqui Tribe (Arizona), the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (Oregon).[10]


Elementary education west of the longitude 111° 5'18.74"W is served by Vesey Elementary School with the rest of the reservation served by Harriet Johnson Primary School and Anna E. Lawrence Intermediate School. The entire reservation is served by Valencia Middle School and Cholla High School for middle and secondary education, respectively. All schools are part of the Tucson Unified School District.

Notable tribal members[edit]

  • Loretta Alvarez, midwife
  • Mario Martinez: painter living in New York[11]
  • Marcos A. Moreno: The first tribal member from the Pascua reservation to attend an Ivy League institution.[12]
  • Pilar Thomas, lawyer and former government official.
  • Brian Garcia, Tempe Union Governing Board President (former Vice-President).[13]
  • Herminia Frias, youngest person and first female tribal member to become Chair of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe.[14]
  • Carlos Gonzales (MD, FAAFP): Physician of Family Medicine, 5th generation Arizonan and beloved student mentor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Assistant Dean of Curricular Affairs, Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine (Clinical Scholar Track), Director of Rural Health Professions Program. He is the Director/Creator of the Commitment to Underserved People Program (1996),[15] a medical student-run clinic at UACOM-Tucson which helps address clinical needs to local underserved and resource-poor populations. He also founded the annual Native American blessing tradition at UACOM-Tucson, a ceremony in which he performs a prayer to the "Seven Sacred Directions" to cleanse and honor medical students as well as the individuals who donated their bodies for the students' education.[16]


  1. ^ "Pascua Yaqui Tribe - ITCA". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Casino Del Sol - Tucson's Premiere Luxury Resort & Casino". Casino Del Sol. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2014-06-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-07. Retrieved 2014-06-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-07. Retrieved 2014-06-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-07. Retrieved 2014-06-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ User, Super. "Pascua Yaqui Tribe". Retrieved 18 April 2018. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  8. ^ Department of Justice, Tribal Justice and Safety
  9. ^ Department of Justice, "Justice Department Announces Three Tribes to Implement Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Under VAWA 2013"
  10. ^ Horwitz, Sari (18 April 2014). "Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law". Retrieved 18 April 2018 – via
  11. ^ "Mario Martinez: Contemporary Native Painting - Press". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Marcos Moreno Pascua Yaqui Tribe". Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Tempe Union Governing Board Members".
  14. ^ "Pascua Yaqui Tribe chooses first woman as chair". Indianz. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  15. ^ "Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) Programs". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Carlos Gonzales, MD, FAAFP". Retrieved 19 November 2021.


External links[edit]