Day Six: Native Peoples


A mural found in the plaza of the Tohono O'odham reservation depicting a popular Papago legend, The Man In The Maze

Quote of the day:  "We didn't cross the border.  The border crossed us."  Yaqui saying

Today we journeyed to two different indiginous tribes. We started by waking up in our amazing hotel room and going to breakfast. We left around 9:00 and drove to the San Xavier del Bac Mission – Tohono O’odham Reservation. There we took a tour of the 17th century Spanish mission and parts of their museum. We saw the beautiful façade on the outside of the church and the amazing sculptures at the altar. We learned about some of their traditions including San Xavier. People will buy a milagro (small medal charm) and pin it on San Xavier’s clothes, after lifting his head three times. The milagro is a form of a healing prayer.

Next, we went to some of the stores on the reservation and ate lunch at a great taco café on the reservation. Rev. Debbie Royals, Canon Missioner for Native Ministries for the Diocese of Arizona, was our guide for the day. Debbie told us about the relationship and friendliness of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe culture. The tribe is all about giving not taking. She told us they don’t own any possessions, nothing is yours but everyone’s to share.

After lunch we visited Debbie’s village, Old Pascua, the center of life for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Angel, of the Yaqui Tribe, told us about their enhanced tribal card program, created by the tribe’s Information Technology and Enrollment departments for tribe members to cross the border more easily. Their work was so impressive that other tribes have asked for their help to create cards for their own nations. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe works with several other tribes around the us to create more of these cards. The cards let tribe members, that are U.S. citizens, cross the border through land and water.

Something that really stood out to us was that most of what is being publicized is talking about migrants and the boarder situation in Mexico, when an additional story that needs to be told is how families and tribes are being split by the AZ and MX boarder.

We really enjoyed learning about a perspective of the issue that is not usually depicted in the media. Tomorrow we are heading to Phoenix to talk to places that work in migrant advocacy! We can’t wait!!