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Yoremes, a town that respects tradition

Yoremes, a town that respects tradition

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The Yoolem’me or Yoremes live in the northern region of Sinaloa, they have existed since before the discovery of America, a unique group of indigenous people that has a cultural heritage of hundreds of years, still alive, that makes them an indigenous organization par excellence.

The current Yoreme are descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Huatabampo culture, belonging to one of the cultural traditions of Sonora. According to the group’s oral tradition, the word mayo means “the people of the riverbank.” The Mayos recognize themselves as Yoremes: “the people who respect tradition”; in contrast, the white man is called: “the one who does not respect”. The indigenous people who deny their roots and community commitments are conceptualized as torocoyori: “the one who betrays”, “the one who denies tradition”. Mayo and Yaqui share a common origin, language and culture. Guarijio, Mayo and Yaqui are the result of a process of migration and ethnic redistribution.

The Mayo or Yoreme region is located both in the northern part of Sinaloa and in the southern part of Sonora. The municipalities where the mayo are located are: Álamos, Etchojoa, Huatabampo, Navojoa and Quiriego in the State of Sonora, as well as in the north of Sinaloa in: Choix, El Fuerte, Guasave, Los Mochis, Ahome and Sinaloa de Leyva. The Mayos do not have their own territory, their localities and population centers are formed within the ejido system and are shared by non-indigenous groups originating from the State itself and from other populations from the rest of the country.

The population is distributed along the Mayo River in 242 localities, with eight main centers: Santa Cruz (today Júpare), Etchojoa, San Pedro, Cowirimpo, Navojoa, Tesia, Camoa and Conicarit. Its estimated population is 72,000 inhabitants, 32,000 belonging to Sonora (representing 4% of the total population) and 40,000 to Sinaloa.

The Yoreme language belongs to the Taracahíta family, of the Yutoazteca or Yutonahua family, related to the Yaqui language and the Guarijío language. It also bears a certain kinship with the Pima and the Tohono O’otham. The Mayos, in general, are bilingual, although contact with the mestizo or Yori peoples has generated a rapid displacement of the mother tongue.

The house is built with reeds, heart of pitahaya or saguaro jarred with adobe. The roof is made of wood and reeds with plasters of earth, whitewashed to avoid saltpeter. Generally, each home has a bower made with mesquite poles and roofed with reed, tule or palm. There are also some houses made of brick or concrete block. In homes it is common to find a mesquite cross that represents their faith and provides protection.

Traditional clothing is practically non-existent, although there are garment designs from old references and talks from older people. As is known in pre-Hispanic times, they covered part of their body with animal skins such as deer. However, in Colonial times and the time of the 1910 Revolution, drawings and photographs of the dress can be seen, which consisted of rudimentary fabrics and a blanket. Today the woman wears a two-piece outfit made of thin fabric and a discreet pattern, sandals, gold earrings, a shawl, and hair clips. The man dresses in the style of the cowboys of the region.

In their ceremonies, the costumes of the deer and pascola dancer (it does not refer only to a dance, but also to a set of arts that includes music, oratory, oral narrative, comedy, and the work of textiles and wood) are Similar to the Yaqui, perhaps the biggest difference is that the Yaqui dancers dance bare-chested and the Mayo are dressed in white. The masks of the Pascola Yaqui have cut eyebrows and those of the Mayo are long.

The social codes or social organization is, according to Pierre Guiraud, a sign of participation; therefore it is the individual or group as a whole, signifier and signified at the same time. The social codes of communication include: rites, ceremonies, festivals, fashions, games, etc., through which individuals define themselves in relation to the social group to which they belong and, at the same time, the group in relation to society, manifesting the role that each one assumes.

The basic social grouping of the Mayos is the extended family and the networks of relationships and solidarity that this brings with it: the family constitutes a space for collective participation to which all its components are integrated, such as grandparents, parents, children, uncles , nephews and brothers. Another space is the town itself, which is referred to as the Ceremonial Center that brings together various surrounding communities and where all members actively participate in the organization of traditional festivals through the “Fiesteros”.

In most cases, the forms of organization and power are controlled by the Yoris: such as the ejidal commissioners, the preventive police, the church board, the progress committees and the municipal authorities.

The vision of the Mayo world has two great influences that have been transforming each other until adopting a deep and complex face in their meanings. In their rites, songs and dances, the role of nature, as the provider of their world, is expressed in the character played by dancers such as El Venado and El Pascola. It is a world where flowers, birds and deer are sung.

Another influence is due, from the action of the Jesuits, to the Catholic faith reflected in the veneration of certain divinities such as the Holy Trinity, Saint Joseph, Saint Francis, etc.; both influences, amalgamated, interact in their traditions, festivals and beliefs. Among its origin myths is the one that tells how God created gold for the Yoris and work objects for the Yoremes; the restrictions that prevent incest; how God created the first animals and made them as they are, among others.

The ceremonial life of the Yoremes is extremely important, practically all the festivals have links with the Catholic Church and its liturgical calendar. In these festivities, various elements are expressed in ritual spaces delimited according to the occasion and type of festivity: dances, processions, orchestras, images of saints, etc. Among the most important festivals are: Holy Week, Holy Trinity, San José, San Ignacio de Loyola, the Holy Cross, Virgin of Guadalupe, Day of the Dead and Lent.