Guarijío - History and Cultural Relations

During the colonization and evangelization of northwestern Mexico, Guarijío lands bordered the Mayo territory, to the west, and the Tarahumara territory, to the south and east. The evangelization process, begun in the 1620s, was laborious; it took some time before the Guarijío accepted the Jesuits, and a mission was established at Chínipas under the direction of Father Juan Castini. He was aware that although the Guarijío had accepted the mission, they had not given up their "pagan" rites.

In 1632, dissatisfied with the missionaries, the Guarijío belonging to the Chínipas group allied themselves with the Guazapares and rebelled against the Jesuits. Many missionaries were massacred, and mission property was burned or otherwise destroyed. As a result, repressive measures were put into effect by the viceroy, who sent military forces into the region to punish the rebels.

Thereupon, the Jesuits decided to incorporate the Chínipas Indians into the missions of the Pueblos Sinaloas, leaving the Guarijío in their own area. Later the Guarijío dispersed, taking different directions; some joined the Sinaloans, others joined unconverted groups, and the great majority went up into the nearby Sierra Tarahumara. It may be concluded that there was a west-east displacement of the "Guarijío tribe," that is to say, from the slopes of the Sierra de Alamos and Quiriego toward the Sierra Alta of the municipios of Sonora and parts of the state of Chihuahua.

It is because of that displacement that the Guarijío are divided into two groups, the Sonoran and the Chihuahua. The latter has merged with the Tarahumara and has adopted their customs. Despite the common cultural heritage, there are no relations between the two Guarijío groups today, and they have developed dialectal variations; the Guarijío of Sonora can now communicate better in their maternal language with the Mayo than with the Guarijío of Chihuahua. Those of Sonora now call themselves "the real Guarijío."

Another explanation of the current distribution of the Guarijío is that they split off from the Tarahumara, moved from east to west, and mingled with the Mayo. These the-ories can be confirmed or rejected only after further detailed archaeological investigations in the area.

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