Yaqui - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The Yaqui "tribe" includes every individual born within Yaqui territory or to Yoreme parents. Every Yaqui residing in a small village or quarter in the territory is assigned to one of the eight traditional towns, each of which is a political, military, and ritual unit. The Yaqui leader resides in Vicam Pueblo. The internal political organization of each of the eight towns is identical, consisting of five governing groups, or yau'uras: the civil authorities, the military authorities, the fiesta authorities ( fiesteros ), the church authorities, and the Holy Week customs authorities ( kohtumbre yau'uras ).

Political Organization. The highest political authority in each of the towns is comprised of the five elected governors ( cobanaos ) of the civil authority, who are hierarchically organized and are complemented by a group of elderly men. They are responsible for economic administration, relations with external agents, and relations with the Mexican government. The governors of the eight towns do not assemble except on special occasions requiring decisions with respect to the entire tribe and its allies.

Social Control. The military authority is in charge of keeping order and carrying out punishments when offenses are committed during the ceremonies. When there is a robbery, murder, or assault, justice is in the hands of the state courts. The federal and state government have appointed agents in each town to act as police. The presence of these outside authorities has frequently caused friction.

Conflict. Yaqui history has been an almost uninterrupted series of armed struggles—first against the Spanish conquerors and later against a local oligarchy and the Mexican federal government. Since the presidential decrees of the 1930s, the Yaqui struggle has been directed at defining their southern territorial boundary and controlling adjacent marine resources. The governors of the eight towns keep in touch with the inhabitants at weekly meetings. Because of the success of this political system, other types of government imposed by the state have been rejected.

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