Most of us in Southern Arizona know these indigenous people as Yaqui, but they refer to themselves as Yoeme (Yo’-eh-may). In their native language Yoeme means “The People”. The ancestral home of the Yoeme is the fertile land along Rio Yaqui in Sonora, Mexico.
During the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican Army tried to exterminate the Yoeme. Many became refugees in the American Southwest. In 1964, the U.S. gave the Yaqui tribe a 202 acre reservation at Tucson, Arizona. In 1978, the United States formally recognized their sovereignty, thus creating the Pascua Yaqui Nation. “Pascua” is Spanish for Easter. For the Yoeme, Easter is the most sacred time of the year.
Louis David Valenzuela is a Yoeme / Yaqui artist who shares the story of his people through woodcarvings, sculptures, and paintings. Louis lives and works in Tucson. His award-winning art has been exhibited in many U.S. galleries & museums, as well as at Hokkaido University in Japan. Neighbor Roy & I first encountered Louis at a Southwest Indian Art Fair at Saguaro National Park West in 2012.