Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Pascua Yaqui

More than the ruins at the Tonto National Monument or the Desert Museum, I appreciated our visit to the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation near Tucson.

We arrived just as the dancers were lining up in the courtyard by the church, each one awaiting a blessing. Some of the dancers wore long, black, purple-lined cloaks, along with black veils over their faces. Others wore a variety of masks, some comical, others grotesque. A young woman explained that the dancers represented the men who persecuted Jesus.

The Catholic symbolism was obvious, but the sound of deer toe rattles and Indian singing, along with the smell of smoke all combined to reveal something much older. It was a maginificent sight.

As much as I would have loved to share the sight with others, I was unable to take any pictures. A large sign stood in a prominant place above the courtyard advising visitors to refrain from using cell phones, recording devices, cameras, sketches, and alcohol. Out of respect for the Pascua Yaqui, I did not even bring a camera; I just felt lucky to witness even a small portion of this ceremony.

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