Manataka American Indian Council




Great Yaqui Nation
Submitted by MAIC Member Ted Glines, Yaqui - from the official Yaqui Nation Website.
















Pahko'ola - Pascola Dancer

By Herminia Valenzuela

The pahko'ola -Pascola dancer means "Old Man of the Ceremony". The term comes from two words: pahko -ceremony and o'ola -an affectionate term for old man.  The two words pahkola'ola were shortened into pahko'ola or pahkola and is pronounced pascola in Spanish.

The pahko'ola has many roles. He is first of all, the historian of the Yoemem, the Yaqui people. He keeps the history of the people alive through the legends, myths and sermons, and jokes. He is the host of the Pahko, and is an entertainer, with his jokes, stories and antics.

The pahko'ola represents nature, with his animal mask, which is usually that of a goat. The symbols on the mask represent man's closeness to nature. The triangular design around the edge of the mask represents the rays of the sun. The sun symbol, seen by some as a cross shape, represents the source of our energy and home of Itom Achai Taa, Our Father. We say that our ancestor's home is in the East where the sun rises - Taa'ata yeu weye vetana. The sun is the home of our ancestors, the stars. Those who die, first enter the sun, then become a star. We celebrate with our ancestors through the star symbols on the mask.

The small animal designs represent nature -the frog, lizard, snake, etc. These symbols represent our closeness and respect for all nature.

The hopo'orosim - abalone or mother-of -pearl necklace, is protection from evil and has the Yoeme sun symbol, shaped like a cross. The sun symbol represents the four directions: east, west, north and south. We celebrate with the animals of the sea through the hopo'orosim.

The koyoolim - sleigh bell belt, represents the seven stars of the constellation, Big Dipper. Each of the seven bells is also a prayer. Each bell presents one of the original seven Yoeme villages in Rio Yaqui. Later, an eighth village was formed by the Spaniards to over see the other seven villages, like a guardian.


Voolo-Hiaki Wedding Ceremony

Consultants: Maria Florez de Amarillas, Jesus Cordova, Sarah Garcia

The Pascolas dress in regular street clothes except for the tenevoim and the koyolim. The padrinos put the scarves and ribbons on the pascolas. The pascola, representing the bride wears a pink scarf and a pink ribbon on his hair, which is tied in a topknot. The padrinos also put scarves and ribbons on the laveleo and apaleo, who are the musicians and wait at the groom's home. The bride's pascola is at the bride's home and the groom's pascola is at the groom's home.

The pascola, acting as if he is the bride, cries and wails like a young woman and carries on about having to leave her parent's home. He carries a basket with toiletries, as he walks with the wedding party to the groom's home.

The bride's padrinos are carrying bundles or baskets or food decorated with pink ribbons. When they arrive at the front of the groom's home, they place the food on a blanket, which has been placed in front of the patio cross. The patio cross has been decorated with crepe paper flowers and ribbons. Most Yaqui homes contain a patio cross that is located in the front of the yard.

The food bundles and baskets from the bride's padrinos and family members are also decorated with pink ribbons. They contain tamales, bread, tortillas and sweet bread. They also have bucket of vannaim, the sweet pudding made from piloncillo.

The bride's family stands in front of the patio cross and the groom's family stands behind the patio cross. The food baskets and bundles are place on the blanket by both parties. The bride's family brings a Maehto to speak for them. The groom's family has also brought a spokesperson with them.

The daughters in law that have married into the groom's family take the young bride and show her the patio. They tell her that this is the patio where she will sweep, they then take her to the house and show her where she will cook and wash dishes. At one point, the mother in-law leads her to the metate and corn supplies to show her where she will grind the corn. Then she is taken to a back room where the groom is waiting. They leave the bride alone with the groom. The bride's family is then asked to sit down and eat. A plate of food is taken to the bride and groom who are still in the room. After everyone has eaten, the bride and groom are brought outside and the Maehto begins to counsel and advise them.

The pahko then begins and the pascolas play all afternoon, at times mimicking the newlyweds. The lavaleo and apaleo play Hamut Bwanim, Vino Huktia and Mamnia Saalim. (Women's Cry, Choke on Wine and Greens)

Yoeme Pahko'ola Mask

Felipe S. Molina


The traditional symbols painted on a pahko'ola mask represents ancient traditional knowledge that goes back to about ten thousands years. In the ancient past, the Yoeme were already farming and knew how to follow the movements of the sun, the stars, and the moon to do their planting and harvesting.




Itom Achai Taa'a

(Our Father the Sun)
This symbol is painted on the forehead and the chin. The sun makes life possible.

Taa Himsim 

(Sun's Moustache)
This symbol represents the sun flares or sun rays. Life force form the sun.


(Tears) This symbol represents tears and also rain. From the rain we get the water for our crops.


Animal symbols, such as the snake and lizard represent nature.

Designed by Francisco Buitimea / Pascua Yaqui Language and Culture



The Desert Tortoise and the Coyote

U Mahau into Wo'i

One day in the very hot month of August, the season of picking pitayas, a desert tortoise was walking along under the branches of the large pitayas cactus. She was eating the red and juicy pitayas that had fallen to the ground. She was walking along with her mouth all red from the pitaya juice, just content and happy.

As she walked along, she came upon a hungry coyote. The coyote greeted her courteously, hoping to make a meal out of her and asked, "What is it that you have eaten which makes your mouth all red?"

"I just ate a man. And if you bother me, I shall eat you too," the tortoise replied opening her mouth and showing her small teeth.

The coyote became afraid of the tortoise and after a while he said, "Friend turtle, tell me where I can find something to eat."

"Come with me. At the big ranch I have some friends.  They always feed me and I will share with you."

They talked as they walked along. The coyote and the desert tortoise had been walking for sometime when the coyote desperate with hunger said, "When are we going to arrive at this ranch? How far away is this ranch?"

"The ranch is not far, lets keep on walking and soon we will get there," said the tortoise. But this was not the truth. There was no ranch and the tortoise knew that if the coyote was given a chance, he would eat her all up. So, they continued to walk.

Again the coyote asked how far the ranch was and again the tortoise answered that it was not far. She continued to walk at her slow pace and the coyote who was just about to fall down from hunger asked the tortoise if she could walk faster.

She then told the tortoise that if she walked too fast, then smoke would begin to rise from her feet and then she asked him to look to make sure there was no smoke coming from under her shell, otherwise they would never get there.

So, the coyote continued to follow her, with his nose close to her feet and continued walking until he could walk no more. He fainted and fell down and the desert tortoise continued walking to the next patch of delicious pitayas.

This is how the desert tortoise fooled the coyote and this took place many years ago.

Courtesy of the Yaqui Myths and Legends: Pascua Yaqui Language and Culture


Yaqui Tribal Headquarters                        Yaqui Tribal Chambers

                Credits:    Pascua Yaqui Tribe

                               Amalia Reyes, Language Department




WEDDINGS              LEGEND

Go to the official website

2001-2002 Pascua Yaqui Tribe
Pascua Yaqui Tribe. 7474 S. Camino De Oeste. Tucson. Arizona 85746


DEER DANCER: Yaqui Legends of Life

By Stan Padilla

Yaqui artist and educator, Stan Padilla, honors his ancestors by bringing to life ancient stories, myths, and legends. The Yoemem (Yaqui) culture has had to overcome many oppressive and exploitative conditions in order to exercise self-determination according to their own laws and customs. Their spiritual life has continued to bind the generations together. These traditional myths and legends, rich with dynamic illustrations and commentary, are also a personal statement of a native son searching to understand tribal culture.  Book Publishing Company, August 2001, Soft Cover, 112pp.  $17.95 #1570670579

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.


By Carlos Castaneda, Forward by Walter Goldschmidt

Thirty years ago the University of California Press published a remarkable manuscript by an anthropology student named Carlos Castaneda. The Teachings of Don Juan initiated a generation of seekers dissatisfied with the limitations of the Western worldview. Castaneda's now classic book remains controversial for the alternative way of seeing that it presents and the revolution in cognition it demands. In a series of fascinating dialogues, Castaneda sets forth his partial initiation with don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian shaman from the state of Sonora, Mexico. He describes Don Juan's perception and mastery of the "non-ordinary reality" and how peyote and other plants sacred to the Mexican Indians were used as gateways to the mysteries of "dread," "clarity," and "power." University of California Press, October 1998, Soft Cover, 215pp.  $21.95

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.


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