Hiakim: The Yaqui Homeland


At the center this special issue of the Journal of the Southwest is a text written in Spanish and Yaqui by Don Alfonso Florez Leyva, a Yaqui elder. The text records a complicated story about original events in the world. Don Alfonso called the story the "Testamento." He copied it from his notebook and passed it on to us with the hope that we would publish it as a way of helping him and other Yaqui elders preserve that part of the world they call Hiakim, the Yaqui Homeland. Honoring the request seemed simple enough as we rode back from Potam in 1989 with the notebook pages in hand: we would get the text photographed, provide a translation, write a brief introduction, and then send it over to Journal of the Southwest. David Burckhalter, with his usual celerity in things professional, turned out the photographic prints of the text immediately. Completing the rest of the plan took more time than we suspected. Working out an appropriate translation was possible, finally, only by relying on the generosity of our friend, James S. Griffith. And, as "the brief introduction" grew, we confronted questions that only William Curry Holden, John Dedrick, and Rosamond B. Spicer could answer. Roz Spicer's discovery of crucial material among Edward H. Spicer's papers, as we completed this project, was especially timely and welcome. So after three years we are making good on our promise. How, or whether, it will be of use to those who work for the preservation of Yaqui lands remains of course to be seen.

We have organized this special issue into six sections. Our introductory essay, "The Holy Dividing Line: Inscription and Resistance in Yaqui Culture," describes the cultural and historical contexts for the "Testamento" that we have been able to put together out of the library and archive, as well as from our own experience with the text as we encountered it. As a story about land, the "Testamento" is rich with references to places in Hiakinm. In order to help readers visualize those places, we asked David Burckhalter to photograph them. These photographs, together with maps of the Rio Yaqui area prepared by Don Butkin, form the second section, "The Holy Dividing Line: Maps and Photographs." Our edition of the narrative follows under the title, "Don Alfonso Florez Leyva's `Testamento': Holograph, Transcription, and Translation." This is the heart of the matter, and some readers may want to turn to Don Alfonso's handwritten text presented in this third section before they read our discussion of it. Unpublished material from the Potam fieldwork of Edward and Rosamond Spicer forms the fourth and fifth parts of this issue. Rosamond B. Spicer's "Photographs from the Rio Yaqui, 1940s" provides some portraits of individual Yaquis who are pivotal in the story we tell here. Her photographs also help to introduce "Excerpts from the `Preliminary Report on Potam"' by Edward H. Spicer. These excerpts include a version of the "Testamento" recorded by Professor Spicer from Juan Valenzuela at Rahum Pueblo in 1942. A portfolio of David Burckhalter's images titled "Photographs from the Rio Yaqui, 1980s" concludes this special issue.

Thanks to Joseph Wilder, Director of The Southwest Center, for the encouragement and for funding the work that led to this publication; to Rita Annett and Carmen Prezelski for helping us in many important ways; and to Karen Seger for careful, intelligent, and patient editorial direction.

We dedicate this publication to the memory of Don Alfonso Florez Leyva who died February 20, 1990.

- Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina
February 20, 1992

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