Jose Matus, Rosemary Tona-Aguirre and Josefina Cardenas at the Yoemen Tekia Cultural Center and Museum on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. - Mari Herreras
Jose Matus, Rosemary Tona-Aguirre and Josefina Cardenas at the Yoemen Tekia Cultural Center and Museum on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation.
worries about the future of the Pascua Yaqui people-not just those in Arizona, but also the members of the tribe who live in Mexico.
Matus, program director for Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras, or the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, said most of the young people in his tribe who live in the Tucson area speak only English.
generation grew up trilingual-first speaking Spanish and the Yaqui language, and then learning English in school.
"Ceremony is very important.
In my community, the Yaqui put a lot of our faith in the deer dancer and the importance of the pascolas dance," he
said, pointing to a painting of a pascola dancer hanging in the Yoemen Tekia Cultural Center and Museum
on the Yaqui reservation, not far from Valencia Road and Camino de Oeste.
said connecting with Yaquis who live in villages between Guaymas and Cuidad Obregon can be difficult, despite agreements between border tribes and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Stronger agreements need to be in place, he
said, because the restrictions ultimately conflict with what he
considers to be tribal members' indigenous rights.
said Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras
was formed in 1997 to create a voice for native people along the border whose tribal ceremonial lands and/or tribal members' homes extend into Mexico.
"One of the things the tribe has done is continue to negotiate with Homeland Security, and they do have an original agreement for ceremonial purposes," Matus
Ultimately, what Matus and others want is an agreement similar to the one the Mohawk tribe has negotiated.
Mohawks who live in Canada are allowed to cross the U.S. border for ceremonies with Mohawks on the American side, as well as look for work, without the need to apply for a visa.
wanted to bring in Yaquis from a pueblo in Mexico to do work on or off the reservation, each person coming over would need to apply for a visa.
That would require the applicants to show they are financially solvent by proving they have the equivalent of at least $200 in a bank.
They also must prove they are fit to work, that they have had a job in Mexico, and that they have a skill that's needed in the U.S.
"But most of our indigenous people work in the field, and work their own land, herd goats, cattle," Matus
said the benefit on May 26 is also meant to educate Tucsonans on border-crossing challenges and indigenous rights.
"They should tell their elected officials to allow a type of mechanism that allows members of different tribes from across the border to come in," Matus
"We are not saying without documents, but have some type of mechanism that allows us to bring in our elders more easily and allows others to cross more easily."
again emphasized that tribes along the U.S.-Mexico border should have the same rights as those along the U.S.-Canada border.