The Military History Of The Yaquis

From 1867 To 1910: Three Points Of View

Edward H Spicer

by Edward H Spicer, University of Arizona

The military events in Sonora involving Yaquis during the last quarter of the nineteenth century seemed to most Mexicans of the time as necessary forcible measures for civilizing a recalcitrant, semi-savage people. Those same events appeared to Yaquis as a demonstration of the ruthless use of power without regard for justice to further the avarice of a pseudo-Christian people. To bystander Anglo-Americans of the period the Yaqui view seemed closer to the truth.

Both the opposing views were products of a conflict which lasted for nearly a century, beginning in the 1820's and culminating in the virtual elimination of Yaquis from their native territory by 1910. The Mexican view of Yaquis during this period grew increasingly and uncompromisingly hostile, while the Yaquis developed similarly biased and extreme views of Mexicans. As the Mexicans gained control their writing of history became wholly colored by the conflict-engendered bias, so that textbooks and histories that mention Yaquis have continued to the present to be influenced by this point of view. It is true, however, that a different interpretation of events began to be apparent among Mexican writers just before the overturn of the government of President Porfirio Diaz in 1910. This view which lay somewhere between the opposing ones referred to above has had little influence on either Mexican or Anglo-American writers of history. It seems therefore that some attempt to reconcile the opposing views is called for, if we are to develop a sound historical understanding of this part of the Spanish-Mexican Borderlands.

The nature of the events which had such different meanings for the people involved seem clear enough. In 1905 (Troncoso, 1905) a compilation of reports made by field commanders of Mexican military units against the Yaquis during the nineteenth century was published by the Department of War and Navy of the Mexican government. These firsthand reports of participants in battles and skimishes constitute an invaluable and, for the last half of the century, immensely detailed record. The compilation was made by Brigadier General Francisco P. Troncoso under the direction of the Secretary of War. It is strictly from the Mexican point of view, but includes enough in the way of statements by Yaquis that, interpreted in the light of recent ethnographic studies, it is possible to make some correction of the basic bias. In addition there are two important published firsthand accounts of some of the latest events in the series, both by Mexican physicians, Dr. Fortunato Hernandez (1902) of Hermosillo and Dr. Manuel Balbas (1927) of Mexico City. Hernandez includes much detail from firsthand accounts of negotiations with a Yaqui guerrilla leader, while Balbas's book describes his own participation as a surgeon in expeditions against Yaquis. There are also important records made by an amateur historian who became Governor of the state of Sonora and Vice-president of Mexico, Ramon Corral (1959). These are the chief basis for the narrative of events presented. I have selected from the considerable mass of material eleven sets of military actions which took place between
1866 and 1910. The plan of presentation is to describe these events and to follow this bald description with, first, the contemporary Mexican interpretation and second, the Yaqui interpretation as offered by various Yaquis who participated in the later events and heard their parents and grandparents discuss the earlier ones.

Most of these oral accounts were gathered in Arizona and Sonora in the 1940s. These have been supplemented by a careful re-reading of the Mexican records in the light of the Yaqui testimony.

Military Events, 1867-1910
1. The March to Medano.

In 1867 Governor Ignacio Pesqueira of Sonora organized two military expeditions against the Yaquis under the command of General Jesus Garcia Morales (Troncoso 1905: 57-58). These expeditions marched from Guaymas on the West and Cocorit on the East into the center of the Yaqui country, eventually meeting at Medano, the port on the Gulf Coast near the Jesuit-founded Yaqui town of Potam. There were about 900 men in the two expeditionary groups. They encountered no concerted, organized resistance. However, wherever the soldiers went they were met by small parties of Yaquis, the largest consisting of about 60 persons (Troncoso: 58; Corral 1959: 71-73). Many were composed of women and children as well as men; these often were encountered as they attempted to run away from the Mexican troops. Other groups of a half dozen or more were composed of men who opened fire with rifles or with bows and arrows on the soldiers. By the end of the year the Mexicans had killed a large number (how many is uncertain) of Yaquis, both men and women, and had taken others prisoner. The troops confiscated much livestock, destroyed food supplies or took them for themselves, and shot most of the prisoners captured. The military historian Troncoso (1905: 58) wrote that the Mexicans waged "war without quarter." During the following year, after several months at Medano as military headquarters, the troops were withdrawn, because of political problems that arose for Governor Pesqueira in the state of Sonora.

2. The Massacre at Bacum.

In March of 1868, before the Mexican troops were transferred, an event took place which gained wide notoriety among Mexicans as well as Yaquis and is recorded in Sonoran school textbooks (Calvo, 1958) and histories (Villa, 1951; Dabdoub, 1964) written by Sonorans. It is listed as a "Memorable Date" in several of the chronologies of Yaqui history which Yaquis have prepared through the years and have maintained as important traditions (Johnson 1962: 93-99). In the eastern Yaqui country near the town of Bacum, 600 Yaquis came as a group to the field commander serving under General Garcia Morales to ask for peace. This man, Colonel Bustamante, placed the Yaquis who included men, women, and children under arrest and then agreed to release them if they would give up their arms. Only 48 weapons were given up and only 150 were released to go away in peace. The others--450--were held in the Yaqui church in Bacum as prisoners of war. Ten individuals were identified as leaders and were shot without trial. The 440 left were kept in the church over night for further disposal, and artillery was trained on the door of the church to insure that there would be no escape. During the night a fire started in the church and the prisoners in wild confusion broke down the door. Several salvos from the field pieces greeted them as they rushed out. From 70 to 120 persons were killed outright (numbers differ according to different accounts, Troncoso, 1905: 58; Acuna, 1974: 100), most of the others got away, some wounded, and the church burned down.

3. The Battle of Pitahaya.

In 1875, according to the Mexican records, a Yaqui insurrection seemed apparent, and Governor Jose J. Pesqueira therefore ordered a campaign, sending 500 troops from the west into the Yaqui country (Troncoso, 1905: 59). They were met at a place called Pitahaya by a Yaqui force estimated at 1500. The battle that followed was reported by Pesqueira as a victory, and he said that the Yaquis lost 60 men. This was the first resistance to Mexican attack organized by Yaquis on a large scale since the early 1830s. The Yaqui force had been commanded by a man appointed in 1874 by Governor Pesqueira to be Alcalde Mayor of the Yaqui towns "for the purpose of maintaining the [Yaqui] tribe in peace through the influence of a chieftain of the same race" (Troncoso, 1905; 62). This man, Jose Maria Leyva, called Cajeme by Yaquis, was a much Mexicanized individual of Yaqui parentage who had risen to the rank of captain in the Mexican Army (Corral, 1959: 149-192). In the Battle of Pitahaya it became clear that he had transferred his loyalties to the Yaquis. From this point on it was apparent that he had decided to devote his military experience and knowledge to organizing Yaqui and Mayo Indians into a fighting force. His effectiveness became more and more clear during the following decade.

4. The Battle of Capetamaya.

On October 15, 1882, Cajeme held a meeting with Mayo Indians in the Mayo country at a place called Capetamaya. Agustin Ortiz, hacendado of the Mayo area and brother of the governor of Sonora who had succeeded Pesqueira, attacked the gathering (Troncoso, 1905: 75). The Mexican landlord reported that 2000 Yaqui and Mayo armed soldiers confronted his 300 men. Nevertheless the Indians dispersed after losing 200 men, and Cajeme was wounded. This attack, which many Sonorans regarded as unprovoked and likely to rouse the Indians unnecessarily, gave rise to intense criticism of the new governor as well as of his brother. Within a few months Ortiz was ousted as governor. During the three years following, Mayos in small parties attacked the town of Navojoa and Yaquis attacked traders entering the Yaqui country. Haciendas on both the west and the east of the Yaqui country were attacked and robbed of livestock, food, and other goods. These operations involved small parties of men. No battles an any large scale were fought for another two years.

5. The Battle of Anil.

In the early months of 1885 Yaqui attacks on haciendas near the Yaqui country increased in numbers (Corral, 1959: 161-62). Now the raids involved as many as 600 men and some of these were mounted. They centered on the west in the Valley of Guaymas and on the east around Buenavista and the mining town of Bayoreca. The governor of Sonora, General Luis Torres, had secured federal military aid in the form of 1400 troops. These soldiers together with 800 state troops organized an expedition to enter the Yaqui country from the east after posting detachments in various places surrounding the Yaqui country. General Bonifacio Topete marched into the heart of the Yaqui terri tory with 600 men and found himself confronted at a place called Anil near the ancient town of Vicam. The site was carefully fortified and manned by 3000 Yaquis (Troncoso, 1905: 117). The fortification of places was a new tactic introduced by Cajeme as a result of his experience in the Mexican Army. General Topete was unprepared for this kind of warfare and was defeated, losing 20 men in the battle.

6. The Battle of Buatachive.

Hostilities were stepped up during 1886. Yaquis fortified other sites, especially a location called Buatachive deep in the Bacatete Mountains to the north of the Yaqui River (Troncoso, 1905; 124-29; Dabdoub, 1964: 133-134). The Mexican combination of federal and state troops made various forays into the Yaqui country, killing small groups of Yaquis who were making the winter plantings and confiscated more than 20,000 head of livestock (Troncoso, 1905: 123). In April of 1886 the Mexicans occupied the Yaqui town of Cocorit and on May 5 the fortified site of Anil was captured after a battle. The site of Buatachive had been prepared under Cajeme's leadership for a last stand. Large amounts of food had been taken there and the most important of the religious statues from the churches were brought by the hundreds of Yaquis who began to concentrate in the new fortification. The Mexican reports affirmed that a fighting force of 4000 along with the greater part of the population of the river towns were at Buatachive awaiting the Mexican attack. If there were 4000 fighting men, this would have meant that most of the population of 15,000 Yaquis were in the mountain stronghold. Under the direction of General Angel Martinez, after four days of siege, Mexican troops attacked Buatachive, on May 12. Three hours of battle resulted in 200 Yaquis dead and hundreds of women and children prisoners. Cajeme himself escaped to organize other small bands of fighting men. The Mexicans immediately established a military occupation of the whole Yaqui country under General Luis Torres with headquarters at Torim. Colonel Lorenzo Torres, as associate, began the establishment of an hacienda at Medano near Potam.

7. The Capture of Cajeme.

On April 12, 1887, nearly a year after the Battle of Buatachive, Cajeme was captured at San Jose de Guaymas, his whereabouts having been revealed to the Sonoran governor by a Yaqui woman. After being interviewed and photographed by Ramon Corral, he was taken by steamboat to Medano en route to Cocorit where he was to be tried. At Las Cruces on the way overland from Medano he was reported to have tried to escape and was shot by the soldiers escorting him. He was buried at Cocorit (Troncoso, 1905: 154).

8. The Peace of Ortiz.

For six years following the Yaqui disaster at Buatachive, Colonel (later General and Governor of Sonora) Lorenzo Torres made efforts to establish a peaceful administration of the Yaqui country. Surveys were made and land was assigned to the few Yaqui families who would accept it under the conditions of Mexican management. A mopping up of resistant Yaquis was carried on. At the end of two years a body count of 356, including both men and women, killed in encounters with Mexican soldiers was recorded, and about 4000 Yaquis were taken prisoner and assigned land (Troncoso, 1905: 203-228). Fewer than half of the latter seem to have stayed in the Yaqui country. Guerrilla warfare increasingly developed which was carried on by small Yaqui forces maintaining themselves around the waterholes in the Bacatete Mountains. The name of Juan Maldonado, called Tetabiate by Yaquis, became prominent as the ablest of the guerrilla leaders. During 1896, Mexican forces protecting Mexicans who were being encouraged to settle in the Yaqui country made contract with Juan Maldonado (Hernandez, 1902: 150-161; Troncoso, 1905: 229-234). Colonel Peinado, working through a Yaqui interpreter named Juan Buitemea, carried on negotiations. Peinado arranged for the formal signing of a peace treaty at the railroad station of Ortiz west of the Bacatete Mountains. On May 15,.1897, Governor Ramon Corral, General Luis Torres, and other state officials came to Ortiz by special train. A platform had been erected and white flags with the single word "Peace" had been prepared for distribution to the Yaquis. Juan Maldonado with 390 Yaquis, consisting of 74 families, arrived from the mountains, and he with his lieutenant, Loreto Villa, took up positions on the platform with the Mexican officials. The peace flags were given out to the Yaquis and Maldonado and Villa signed a treaty of peace. Tetabiate was then given the title of Captain General of the Yaqui and took up headquarters at Torim with the Mexican troops.

9. Rebellion at Bacum.

In 1899, less than two years later, there were indications of unrest among Yaquis in Bacum. Unnamed Yaquis there refused to deal with Loreto Villa, Maldonado's second in command, and sent him back to General Lorenzo Torres with a demand that Mexican troops and all other Mexicans leave the eight Yaqui towns and the whole lower Yaqui River valley. General Torres reported that there were indications of a well-planned rebellion and that 3000 Yaquis were under arms. He organized an expedition to the eastern towns, but found that Juan Maldonado would not join him to put down the threatened rebellion. Instead he joined the rebels and led them into the Bacatete Mountains. It is not recorded how many joined his command (Troncoso, 1905: 23839).

10. The Battle of Mazocoba.

The Mexican occupation forces immediately began a campaign to hunt down the guerrilla fighters who steadily increased in number after the defection of Tetabiate. General Lorenzo Torres led several expeditions. On January 18, 1900, three columns of his soldiers encountered a party of Yaquis in the heart of the Bacatete Mountains (Hernandez, 1902: 172-75; Troncoso: 284-87). The Yaquis, mostly on foot, were pursued into a box canyon in a rugged portion of the mountains. After a battle lasting all day, the Yaquis ceased fighting. The soldiers had killed 397 men, women, and some children; "many" had committed suicide by jumping over cliffs; and 1000 women and children were taken prisoner. In the encounter General Torres reported that he had lost 30 soldiers and officers killed. Among the Yaqui dead was a man Torres reported as being "Opodepe," reputed to be the Yaqui supreme chief and the "soul of the rebellion." It was estimated nevertheless that there were still 900 Yaqui guerrillas in the mountains. Numerous expeditions were carried out against the guerrillas during the following months. By the end of 1900 General Torres estimated that there were only 300 Yaquis left alive in the mountains. The following year in a small engagement at a place called Bacatete troops mopping up under the command of Loreto Villa, former lieutenant of Tetabiate and now a Major in the Mexican army, killed Tetabiate who was accompanied by only a few other Yaquis.

11. The Deportation Round-Ups.

Following the Battle of Mazocoba and the killing of Tetabiate there was little change in the guerrilla warfare. However, the constant patrolling by Mexican soldiers in the Bacatetes resulted
in a shifting of the scene of the encounters. In 1902 one Mexican report said that 400 Yaquis were met and captured at Codorachic, apparently north of the Bacatete Mountains (Troncoso: 328-330); it turned out that these Yaquis had no firearms. Other groups of Yaquis were reported in the same year at Mazatan and Tecoripa, many miles northeast of the Yaqui country. The Mexicans pursued wherever there were reports of Yaquis, even putting pressure on Seri Indians to kill and cut off the hands of a number of Yaquis who had sought refuge on Tiburon Island. Meanwhile the federal government had decided on a course of action for clearing Yaquis out of the state of Sonora. Colonel Emilio Kosterlitzky was placed in charge of Federal Rural Police in the state with orders to round up all Yaquis and arrange to deport them southward. Between 1905 and 1908 one report to an American journalist said that 15,700 Yaquis had been delivered to owners of henequen plantations in Yucatan (Turner, 1910: 47). This figure exceeds the estimates of the total population of Yaquis in the late 1800s. It was admitted by Colonel Francisco B. Cruz, who was in charge of the disposal of deported Yaquis, that many others besides Yaquis were caught in the round-ups. In 1908 a decree by President Porfirio Diaz ordered that all Yaquis be gathered up and deported (Turner: 46). Governor Izabal of Sonora prosecuted the program vigorously which was in effect until the fall of.the Diaz government in 1910.

The Mexican View

The recorded viewpoint of Sonorans regarding Yaqui affairs during the period with which we are concerned was fairly uniform. There was a difference of opinion between Governor Pesqueira, who dominated Sonoran politics during the 1870s, and Governor Luis Torres, who with associates ruled Sonora for most of the 30 years following. Governor Torres wrote that the "war without quarter" and scorched earth approach of Pesqueira's officers in the march to Medano and after was too harsh (Troncoso, 1905: 25). However, it was only with Pesqueira's means, not his ends, that Torres quarrelled. Other than this there was no serious difference of opinion among those who dominated Sonoran politics and intellectual life from the 1870s to 1910.

The basis of their point of view was that the Yaquis had no right to hold by collective title the land on which they had lived from time immemorial. The legal basis of land ownership was well established by the Laws of the Reform of 1858 and subsequent legislation promulgated by the Diaz regime. Land ownership rested in individual title. The Sonoran political leaders believed that the Yaqui lands, always described in their writings as "the richest land in Sonora," must be divided up and title to the parcels given to Yaquis. After such division all land left over should then be available to others. It was the others, namely, Mexican settlers, who would make proper use of the land as stable farmers or as agricultural laborers for the large landholders who should be encouraged to develop the agricultural establishments called haciendas. The Sonorans believed that Yaquis had demonstrated that they could not be expected to make use of the land in a civilized fashion.

In addition, the Sonorans believed that Yaqui local government was anomalous and that so long as Yaquis adhered to it they should not have citizenship rights in the state. Mexicans did not make any study of the Yaqui form of government, but were aware that Yaquis had rejected the municipal organization offered them in the 1820s, when the state of Sonora was first organized after the War of Independence. These differences over land management and local government lay at the roots of the military conflict.

The differences led, as hundreds of Mexicans were killed in the developing conflict, to a classification of Yaquis as "semi-savages." This term was much used by Sonorans and became a symbol for the whole rationale of the continued, deliberate use of violence against Yaquis. "Semi-savage" meant "a stage below the civilized, fully human Mexicans." Some Mexicans were not wholly comfortable with this classification, but felt.that so long as the qualifier "semi" was used, the term was acceptable. Ramon Corral, one of the most articulate of the members of the Torres dynasty, and others, explained the usage in this way. They said that Yaquis did indeed carry on Christian customs, and, as Christians, they could not be wholly savage (Corral: passim; Balbas, 1927). But their Christianity was corrupted by paganism and carried on with fanaticism; therefore they were not wholly Christian. In the end, as fighting intensified, the concept of "semi-savage" came to be used quite generally. It served to justify not only "war without quarter" on the battlefields, but also the ultimate program of deportation with its extreme cruelties.

The March to Medano by Pesqueira's troops was based on a firm policy of making clear once for all that Pesqueira and his fellow Mexicans were masters in the Yaqui country. It was designed to show that the kind of resistance to Mexican utilization of the river lands which had resulted in many armed conflicts in immediately previous years was entirely useless. The Massacre at Bacum, although it became notorious even among Sonorans, was nothing to be apologized for. It after all demonstrated that Yaquis could not be trusted; they had refused to give up weapons and had schemed to escape by setting fire to the church. Pesqueira never negotiated with Yaquis, although later Sonoran leaders did, because he regarded Yaquis as untrustworthy and therefore to be dealt with only by force.

If Yaquis were to be controlled, it would be by the caudillo method which dominated Sonoran politics. Law and order and progress depended on a strong leader with a firm hand. It was such a view that led Governor Pesqueira to appoint Captain Jose Maria Leyva (Cajeme) as representative of the state of Sonora among Yaquis. The quick turnabout in Cajeme's behavior was interpreted wholly in terms of the caudillo pattern which seemed so normal to Mexican Leaders. They assumed that Cajeme was seeking a fiefdom with himself as military and political master. To the Mexicans it appeared that Cajeme would try to place himself as a regional caudillo in confrontation with the state government, using as the basis of his power total control of the Yaquis. It seemed quite natural therefore that he would turn to the neighboring Mayo Indians, as in the Capetamaya meeting, and attempt to expand his power base through their support. All the contemporary Mexican accounts of Cajeme's activities interpret them exclusively in the teems of their own patterns of political behavior. It came as a distinct shock to the personally sensitive Ramon Corral, when he interviewed Cajeme after his capture in 1887, to find him mild-mannered, deeply religious, reasonable, and thus quite different from the expected image of a masterful and ruthless ruler of men (Corral, 1959: 190).

Repeatedly, when Yaqui leaders who had become prominently named among Mexicans were killed, the failure of Yaqui resistance to collapse remained unintelligible to Mexicans. Ultimately they decided that explanation was possible only in terms of "innate rebelliousness" and the imbibing of hatred against Mexicans in the mother's milk and at the mother's knee (Hernandez, 1902: passim). They further tried to explain the situation as a result of some kind of magical control over Yaquis exerted by what they called "the Temastis," that is, witches. They became acutely aware of forces at work in Yaqui life that were not like those in Mexican society where individual welfare depended on following the dictates of a caudillo. They kept looking, even among the dead after a battle, as in the case of General Lorenzo Torres's finding of the nonexistent "Opodepe," for the one powerful Yaqui whose collapse would mean the capitulation of all Yaquis.

Governor Ramon Corral made a great public display out of the occasion of the signing of the Peace of Ortiz. He and General Luis Torres regarded Tetabiate as a powerful chieftain who would exert full control for peace over all Yaquis. On the platform erected in the middle of the desert in sight of the Bacatete Mountains they sought to impress Tetabiate and his followers (400 ragged men and women) with the military strength of the Sonorans. When the Yaquis of Bacum and other towns decided that the Mexicans had no intention of fulfilling what they had understood to be the treaty agreements and declared war, Lorenzo Torres denounced the Yaqui leaders as a bunch of gangsters. When Tetabiate himself joined the rebels, he seemed a weak traitor to the general, who then began looking for another great caudillo among the Yaquis.

Increasingly it appeared to the Mexican leaders, as the killing of "chieftains" brought no end to hostilities, that nothing would solve "the Yaqui problem" except the extermination of all Yaquis. It was decided in Mexico City that direct extermination would be too inhumane and hence deportation from Sonora became the policy, even though there was dissent in Sonora where it had come to be realized that Yaquis were the "best workmen in the state." Yaquis were relentlessly hunted out of the Bacatete strongholds. As they continued to resist in places as much as a hundred miles away from the Yaqui country, the Mexicans felt confirmed in their belief that Yaquis could not be treated as human beings. The deportation program was carried out without regard for family ties or sentiments. Children were given to Mexican families; husbands and wives were sold apart from each other. The ultimate result of the belief in the concept of semi-savages was a program which dealt with Yaquis as nonhumans.

The Yaqui View

What significance can there be in considering what these events meant to Yaquis? They were almost entirely eliminated from their homeland by 1910. Through many years of incessant warfare and other causes their numbers had been greatly reduced. Possibly if the political regime which had adopted a policy of force against the Yaquis had had solid foundations, the meaning of the military events to Yaquis would be today a purely academic matter. However, there are at least 25,000 Yaquis in the world today, more than at any time probably during the nineteenth century. Their objectives in the conflict with the Sonoran leaders seem worthy of consideration as part of the history of a vigorous people of the Southwestern region. Moreover, as pointed out below, Yaqui aims have been vindicated in the development of modern Mexican Indian and land policy. The issues of the nineteenth century were not settled by military action. They were live issues in the Mexican political arena even before the downfall of Porfirio Diaz and therefore require to be better understood than they ever were by the Sonoran leadership of the pre-1910 period.

It would not be realistic to hold that there was even approximate unanimity among Yaquis during the 50 years before 1910. On the contrary, sharp differences existed concerning confrontation with Mexicans. Moreover, Yaqui opinion changed periodically in the face of such issues as the authority to be accorded to Cajeme, military and other relations with the Mayo Indians, and active participation in Sonoran politics. At every period there seems to have been some degree of opposition to the maintenance of hostilities with Mexicans. There were moves for peace in some of the Yaqui towns in the very midst of hostilities. However, there can be no doubt that there was strong support for certain definite policies with the Yaqui towns during the period with which we are concerned. These were reiterated again and again whenever peace overtures developed at different times. These policies became very rigid before the 1880s, and during the deportation program were stated repeatedly even by groups of Yaquis who had been forced out of the homeland and continued nevertheless to fight for them. It is this viewpoint that we shall attempt to present.

Yaqui views of their relationship with the land on which they lived and regarding the nature of their local governmental institutions underlay the conflict with the Mexicans. Yaquis believed that their eight towns along the Yaqui River had been founded by holy prophets within a precisely bounded territory which had always been theirs. The towns and the territory were the possession of the Yaquis by the grace of God who had originally sanctioned the delimitation of the area, and this moreover had been further confirmed in a special document, or "testament," by the King of Spain. The land was a collective possession, not to be disposed of except through the deliberations of the collective town governments. Each one of the towns had the responsibility for the management of its portion of the tribal lands. Nothing had happened, in the Yaqui view, during the nineteenth century which had changed this basic relationship between themselves and the land. The Mexican government had never consulted with any of the town officials about the provisions of either the federal or the state constitutions (Chavez, 1940). Yet the relationship had been well-established and recognized in Spanish as well as in divine law since time immemorial, or that is to say in Yaqui, batnaataka.

Hence the March on Medano by General Pesqueira's troops was an invasion not only of the land but also of well-established authority. The land had to be defended from those who had never gained a God-given.right to it. The land had never before been successfully invaded on any large scale. Not even the Spaniards had been able to accomplish it, even though they had tried twice and been soundly defeated. There had been, however, for many years before 1867 piecemeal invasions by individual Spaniards and then by Mexicans. Yaquis had been accustomed to dealing with these on an ad hoc basis, killing some, giving others temporary privileges. It was this kind of scattered and small scale resistance which Yaquis were accustomed to make and which they offered when the sudden March to Medano took place. The lack of preparation for large-scale invasion and continued occupation of the Yaqui country is what had led the 400 people at Bacum to ask to discuss peace in 1868.

The Massacre at Bacum stood throughout the rest of the nineteenth century as a terrible example to Yaquis of the vicious character of the Mexicans (Chavez, 1940). Every human quality had been betrayed by this action. A group of peaceful people seeking peace had been treated as prisoners of war and herded into a church under armed guard, their spokesmen being killed without any attempt at negotiation. Then innocent people were massacred in large numbers when they attempted to escape the ravages of the fire. They were shot down on a mass basis with artillery. Worst of all the sanctity of the church had proved of no consideration to the Mexicans. In Yaqui legend it was Mexicans who set the fire in an effort to force all the Yaquis to their death.

The appointment of Cajeme as Alcalde Mayor of the Yaqui area was an attempt to betray all Yaquis, because Cajeme was known to have engaged earlier, while a soldier in the Mexican army, in the killing of Yaquis in what Pesqueira had called an "uprising." However, Cajeme showed his true Yaqui nature by almost immediately listening to the governors and the elders and placing his military experience at the disposal of the eight town governments, as demonstrated in his successful turning back of General Pesqueira at the edge of the Yaqui country in 1875 at Pitahaya. The unprovoked attack by Augustin Ortiz at Capetamaya on a peaceful gathering showed Cajeme that he could not trust the Mexicans, and the fact that he was wounded through such treachery helped him to understand where his loyalties lay.

Nevertheless there always was trouble with Cajeme, because he did want to set himself up as judge over all the Yaqui towns (Balthazar, 1940). Some Yaquis left the River country because of this and went to live in places nearby like San Jose de Guaymas. By the 1880s, however, Cajeme had accepted the proper authority of the town government, as was demonstrated in the peace parley at Potam in 1885 when he retired into the bush and forced the Mexican general and his aides to deal with the governors instead of with Cajeme. By the time he was killed, Cajeme had learned his lessons about Yaqui government very well and no longer tried to work apart from it. In fact, he never after 1882 tried to make a peace treaty with Mexicans by himself as Tetabiate did in the Peace of Ortiz. Tetabiate probably didn't quite understand all that was taking place and that was why the Mexicans duped him.

The governments of the towns had never been superseded by the municipal government of the state of Sonora. No one had the authority to do that. The Mexicans had no authority greater than that of the Prophets and the King of Spain. Cajeme was only a war captain under the command of the eight towns, as every war captain had been since the beginning (Chavez, 1940). He was a good commander in some respects and knew a lot about cavalry, which he got Yaquis to use, but when he tried to make use of fortifications like the Mexicans, it didn't work. It is true that General Topete got badly beaten at Anil, but once the Mexicans learned about the Yaqui fortifications they got prepared for them. The disaster at Buatachive proved how Yaluis should not have tried to concentrate into forts.

The boundaries of the Yaqui territory were well-established, and the city of Guaymas was included in that territory. Hence the frontier against the Mexicans had to be maintained, as in the Valley of Guaymas where hacendados had begun to set up big haciendas without asking permission from Yaquis. The Mexicans spoke of the attacks on these haciendas and ranches as lawless thievery and assassination; but it was clear that the lawless people were the Mexicans who ignored Yaqui Law (Ujllolimea, 1948). They had to be made to understand that they were on Yaqui land and could not stay there. This was true also on the eastern margin of Yaqui country, where encroachment had been going on for a longer time around Bayoreca and Buenavista and even as close as Cocorit, which everyone knew was an ancient Yaqui town.

The Peace of Ortiz proved how Tetabiate had been hoodwinked by the always untrustworthy Mexicans. It also proved how the Mexicans did not understand the first principles of government and how totally lawless they were. Tetabiate had understood that he was making an agreement to stop fighting and that in return the Mexicans would withdraw all troops from the Yaqui country and eventually all other Mexicans settled there. Everybody knew that these were the conditions which Yaquis had been stating ever since they had to start fighting the Mexicans. Yaquis would never agree to an unconditional surrender (Valenzuela, 1942). Tetabiate did not agree to that, and when he found that Mexicans said he had, he joined the Bacum rebellion. Then he went on to serve the eight towns as long he was alive as one of the really good guerrilla leaders in the Bacatete Mountains.

The way things worked out, just before and after the best guerrilla leaders were killed and the guerrillas were almost all forced out of the mountains, proved what the Mexicans wanted. They wanted to take the land for themselves and had been determined to take it by force from the time the real trouble first started. Lorenzo Torres, as soon as he was given command of occupation troops, denounced many hectares of land near Medano and set up his big hacienda at Guamuchil. He forced a lot of Yaquis to work on that land that he claimed was his. Lorenzo and Luis Torres set up their friends in Torim and tried to make it into a big Sonora city. They were able to do this only because they kept several thousand soldiers in the big cuartel at Torim. Lorenzo Torres, under instructions from Porfirio Diaz, opened up all the Yaqui land to Mexicans, who were all ready and waiting to come in and run cattle and begin to plow. Lorenzo Torres also invited North Americans to take up land south of the river, for which the Richardson Company had begun to build a big canal to take the water out of the Yaqui River (Chavez, 1940; Dabdoub, 1964: 250-258).

When the Mexicans began the deportation, it became clear immediately what kind of heartless beings they were. The Rurales caught babies and dashed their brains out against the trees or rocks. Little children and women were shot to save the trouble of taking them to jail. Men and women were sold for cash to labor contractors in Mexico City. Ramon Corral was the one who commanded all this (Moises, 1971). He and Porfirio Diaz were very bad men. They would have liked to see all Yaquis dead. It was because of a few good people in Sonora that Yaquis were saved. President Madero, too, tried to help.

An Anglo-American View

There is available some information regarding the views of contemporary Anglo-Americans on the Yaqui-Mexican conflict. Those who were in closest contact with it tended to take the Yaqui view, or a view very close to that. For example, the Arizona Weekly Citizen published in Tucson, Arizona, during the 1880's reported the defeat, capture, and execution of Cajeme. Correspondents of the newspaper in Sonora presented interpretations of the events from both the Mexican and what seems very like a Yaqui standpoint. After due consideration of both views, the Citizen publicly proclaimed (Arizona Weekly Citizen, May 28, 1887, p. 3) that it was apparent that the execution of Cajeme by Ley Fuga was "a hellish deed." The editor, who tended to see the conflict in the same terms as did the Mexicans as a struggle of powerful individual leaders, became very partisan on Cajeme's side. He wrote:

Cajeme was only an Indian, but he stood intellectually. head and shoulders over his Mexican adversaries… His heroic resistance is worthy of chronicle and song. It is said of him that he repeatedly escorted Mexican women and children falling into his hands, to the very verge of his enemies lands, at times personally escorting them into the suburbs of Guaymas that no harm might befall them.

In contrast the Mexican General Martinez was "a bloody monster… indiscriminately shooting every Yaqui falling into his hands…" The editor of the Citizen also regarded the conflict as based on Mexican desire for the Yaqui land and wrote that "The Government of Sonora attempted to rob the Yaquis of their lands." The Citizen's brief account of Yaqui history is very inaccurate, and the anecdote about Cajeme's kindness to captured women is not recorded anywhere else, so far as I am aware.

It seems worth noting that the Citizen's view of the Yaqui situation seems not to be the result of a general romantic conception of Indians. For months before the reporting of the Yaqui incidents the Citizen had printed in almost every issue accounts of Apache raids and other Apache activities. The phrases used to describe the Apaches were far stronger than those the Mexicans customarily used regarding the Yaquis. In most news stories the Apaches were spoken of as "treacherous, fiendish brutes" or "bloodthirsty demons." Evidently there was no single viewpoint from which the Arizona newspaper staff saw all Indians. The fact is that the terms used to characterize the Apaches were rather close to those sometimes used in the Citizen to describe Mexicans.

Finally, it should perhaps be said that the truth does not lie somewhere between the two opposing interpretations we have described. The truth embraces both. Given the legal premises of the Mexican leadership, the Yaquis were indeed recalcitrant resisters of what had been developed as law among Mexicans during the nineteenth century. This legal system, which favored the big landholders, was invested with an aura of the sacred and identified with "civilization" itself by those to whom it gave the advantages. These were the regional caudillos who constituted the underpinnings of the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship. On the other hand, given the Yaqui premises about the relationship of people and land, the Mexicans were indeed ruthlessly self-seeking. The Yaquis were widely familiar with the workings of the hacienda system and knew that its acceptance meant total dependence on the big landlords. They can be regarded as resisting not civilization, in any ordinary sense of the word, but rather peonage.

As a footnote, it should be added that not only did the "Yaqui Wars" become an issue, repeatedly referred to, for example in the writings and speeches of Francisco 1. Madero (1960: 187-198), in
the Mexican Revolution of 1910, but also the principles for which Yaquis fought have guided Mexican land policy in important respects since the Revolution. Two forms of corporate ownership and management of land are in effect at present in the Yaqui country and elsewhere in Mexico. The Indigenous Community as a form of land management was first introduced into the Mexican land system by President Cardenas in 1939 in the Yaqui country (Fabila 1940: 295313). It has since been extended to most areas of Mexico where there are surviving native populations. The other form of collective holding is, of course, the ejido [communal farm] which is one of the significant products of Mexico's great effort to control the abuses by the nineteenth century landlords.

In view of these developments it may be said that Yaqui military actions of the nineteenth century were consistent with the mainstream of Mexican history thus far, while those of the Sonora leaders of that period were not.


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