Refugio Savala is a Yaqui poet and translator. Born in Sonora, Mexico in 1904, he was brought by his parents into the United States during the height of the persecution and deportation of Yaquis by the Mexican government, hence his name, Refugio -- refugee.
As an adult Refugio Savala worked with a number of students of Yaqui culture, among them Edward Spicer and Muriel Painter. At Painter's encouragement he began to write. The three pieces we print here grew out of that association. "Growth: Merging of Labor and Love" is a portion of an autobiography Savala drafted in the 1950's and 60's. Recently edited by Kathleen Sands, it was published this year by the University of Arizona Press as The Autobiography of a Yaqui Poet
"The Legend of Skeleton Mountain" and "The Singing Tree" are pieces of Savala's early work which are literary translations of stories from Yaqui oral tradition Both stories were published in the first issue of The Arizona Quarterly (Spring 1945).
Mr. Savala resides in a nursing home in Tucson where he spends much of his time translating the Old Testament into Yaqui language.
As printed in Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press, ©1980, p. 223.