HomePeopleCeremonial LifePublications and ResourcesAudio and VideoSite Index


Old Pascua Photographs, ca. 1938

Click any image to retrieve a larger copy

An unidentified Pahko'ola dancer
An unidentified Pahko'ola dancer (ceremonial dancer) standing under a ramada. He is wearing a traditional necklace of glass beads and abalone shell with a bearded mask pulled to the side of his face. When he is not dancing, the Pahko'ola wears the mask to the side of his face. When dancing to the drum, the mask covers his face. When dancing to the harp and violin, the mask is worn on the back of the head.
Miki Espinoza, Francisco Garcia, Lino Suarez, and Ramon Duarte
From left to right as identified by Pascua elders in April 2001: Miki Espinoza, an apaleo (harpist); Francisco Garcia "Chico Pahko'ola" from Marana; Lino Suarez, a Pahko'ola (ceremonial dancer); and Ramon Duarte, a tampaleo (drummer) and flute player. Duarte is holding a hiponia (drumstick) in his left hand, a kusia (cane flute) in his right hand, and a kuvahe (drum) in his lap.

Lino Suarez was a Yoeme fighter and protector of Yoeme lands in Mexico. He was nicknamed "Yoi Me'eri," which means, "killed by Mexicans." The name is employed ironically because, try as they might, the Mexicans could not kill Suarez for good. As Herminia Valenzuela describes, Suarez went to Yo Ania, the enchanted world, and received spiritual powers that protected him from the Mexicans, making him "indestructible." Admission to Yo Ania, a sacred site in Mexico located in a cave in the mountains requires a special knowledge, talent or gift. It is believed that Suarez was killed "many times." Valenzuela relays that her relatives have witnessed three of these deaths. First, Suarez was hung. The Mexicans could not find a pulse and declared him dead. During the velaroawa (wake, or velorio in Spanish), however, he came back to life, sat up on table and then rejoined the fight. Next, his feet were bound, his hands tied behind his back and his body weighted down with rocks before he thrown into the Sea of Cortez. After three to four days at sea he was assumed dead. Fisherman searched and eventually found him. When they pulled him out of the sea they declared him dead. Again the people took him home and prepared for the funeral. Again, he sat up during the velaroawa. The third time he was stabbed and believed dead but then lived on to fight for Yoeme lands in Mexico. Miraculously, he survived like a modern-day Houdini and died of old age in Tucson.
The elders believe this is a posed photograph. The dancers and musicians appear to have been called out to the sunny side of the ramada. The drummer would sit against a wooden back support, the harpist would be seated on a bench next to the violinist, and the dancers would not stand with the musicians as pictured.
Men from Old Pascua with Ned and Roz Spicer
Front row, left to right: Ned Spicer, University of Arizona anthropologist and his wife, Rosamond Spicer; unknown; unknown

The elders think this photo was probably taken after a weekly mass since everyone is dressed in regular Sunday clothes but not in especially festive dress. The group is assembled in front of the south wall of the church. The church was constructed of old railroad ties donated by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The roof is made of corrugated tin. Many believe the Southern Pacific Railroad donated church bell visible on the roof. This bell was subsequently moved to the church at New Pascua in the 1960s.

The Southern Pacific Railroad tracks ran behind Pascua and many Yoeme men worked for the railroad. Felipe Molina's grandfather Rosario Castillo worked for Southern Pacific. He moved to Pascua in 1918 and then moved to the Yoeme community in Marana in the 1920s.

Back row, left to right: "Bufalo"; unknown; unknown; Tomas Alvarez, a matachin kovanao (leader of the matachin society of ceremonial dancers); Juan Acuņa, a matachini; and Pedro Garcia, a matachini.

The Yoeme langauge does not have the letter "d." As a result, Ned Spicer was called "Net" or "Neet," and his wife, Rosamond or Roz was called "Roosa."

Return to The People