The Yaqui tribe lives in areas of northern Mexico and parts of Arizona. The Sonora region is home to the greatest concentration of Yaqui Indians. There are several thousand individuals who belong to this group. These people speak a language that is known as Cahita. Translated to mean "he who speaks in a loud voice," the name Yaqui has been in use for approximately 400 years.
The Yaqui Indians practice a modern religion that has been heavily influenced by the Jesuits. These people are typically members of the Roman Catholic Church. As part of their religious faith and practices, the Yaquis believe strongly in tradition. A religious practice known as deer dancing is one ritual that is typically included in the Yaqui religious ceremonial practices.
In Yaqui deer dancing, a designated member of the tribe, always a male figure, leads the ritual. He wears an elaborate headpiece that represents a deer's head. This figure is said to represent freedom and strength, as depicted by the large antlers atop of the headdress.
Other ceremonies and religious rituals exist among the Yaqui Indians as well. In the Mexican city of Del Vado del Rio, there is a traditional burning of the masks that takes place at certain times of year. In this ritual, masks are thrown into a large bonfire and destroyed. This is a symbolic gesture meant to eradicate bad life choices that have been made in prior years.
Yaqui history is colorful and rich in culture, as the people endured and persevered through many hardships for several generations. Hundreds of years ago, as the Spanish tried to claim the Yaqui land, the tribal members fought to save what was theirs. The Yaqui domain had shrunk due to the conflict and strife. After the conflicts had been resolved, the Yaqui Indians settled on the Arizona reservations where they live today and maintain their heritage.
The Yaqui Indians essentially are farmers and fishermen. Primarily earning their living from agriculture, the Yaquis are also adept at creating works of art as well as craft items, which are sold for a profit. They also sell useful items such as bamboo and pottery. Typically, the Yaqui Indians prefer to live off the land, not relying on modern conveniences.