Cahita - History and Cultural Relations

Gaps in the information available and changes through time have produced shifting Cahitan natural, social, and cultural boundaries, the histories of which are not completely clear. Today Mayo-speaking peoples are concentrated along the lower Mayo and Fuerte river valleys, with the Tehueco in the higher Río Fuerte area and the Yaqui concentrated in the lower Río Yaqui area. Throughout this Cahitan area (chiefly the coastal plain of southern Sonora and of northern Sinaloa, embracing the three river valleys), Cahitan social and cultural boundaries are marked primarily by dialect spoken and social and ceremonial labor and exchange.

Within this general area, considerable family movement exists, with numbers of modern Mayo families living in Yaqui territory and vice versa, and Río Mayo living in the Fuerte area and vice versa. Cahitan individuals participate in Mexican institutions such as schools, ejidos (landholding units established by the government after the 1910 Revolution), markets, the army, and the Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), simply as peasant farmers. With little hope of upward mobility in the Mexican system, many Cahitans prefer to seek prestige within their traditional culture and society. The Cahitans have either reestablished old associations, as in the case of the traditional "Eight Yaqui Pueblos," or are adapting and revitalizing others, as in the case of the new Mayo religious movements, which continue to appear in the 1990s.

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