Pima Bajo

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Pima Bajo

ETHNONYMS: Lower Pima, Óob, 'O'odham, Ó Odham


Identification. The Pima Bajo, or Lower Pima of northern Mexico, are related to other Piman-speaking groups living in southern Arizona. These latter groups were referred to by Spaniards as the "Pimeria Alta" and today consist of various groups in southern Arizona and a small group living across the border in northern Mexico. The lowland Pima identify themselves as 'O'Odham (people, tribesman, person, human) and the highland, or Mountain Pima as Taramil 'O'Odham (Tarahumara-like people). The highland Pima refer to themselves as Òob and to the lowland groups as Ó Odham. Spanish missionaries called them all "Pima," after the indigenous term for "nothing" or "I don't know."

Location. The Pima Bajo were situated aboriginally in their current location, and in a larger territory in eastcentral Sonora and the adjacent areas in western Chihuahua. They were split into two groups: the lowland, desert branch of central Sonora, consisting of the Névomes living on both sides of the middle Río Yaqui and the Ures located near the confluence of the Sonora and San Miguel rivers, and the highland branch, the Yécora of the Sierra Madre Occidental in and around the towns of Yécora and the Tutuaca between the headwaters of the Papagochi, Tutuaca, and Mayo rivers near the Sonora-Chihuahua border. Today the Névome may be extinct, whereas the Ures group is rapidly acquiring the social and material traits of the local non-Indian population.

Demography. At the end of the seventeenth century, the Pima Bajo population was estimated at less than 6,000 and that of the Mountain Pima at less than 2,000. During the nineteenth century, the Pima Bajo experienced an abrupt decline in numbers. Disease and warfare did not decrease their numbers as they had in other cases of Spanish contact, but an ever-increasing number of Spaniards and mestizos displaced them from their native soil. In the early 1990s the best estimates of the lowland Pima Bajo population were about 200 and, of the highland Pima Bajo, between 1,500 and 2,000 persons, with some estimates ranging as high as 4,000. Population size is difficult to estimate accurately because the Pima Bajo live in small scattered clusters and migrate in search of temporary work in surrounding mines, mills, and lowland towns for work in agriculture.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Pima Bajo language is part of the Northern Branch, or Tepiman, of the Uto-Aztecan languages; thus, the Pima Bajo are grouped linguistically with the Tepehuan of Durango and southern Chihuahua and the Northern Piman speakers in Arizona. Lowland and Highland Piman are related languages, and each is characterized by two dialects. One of the lowland dialects is now extinct. The other lowland dialect is similar to the Pima Alta language spoken by the Papago, now called the Tohono O'Otam.

History and Cultural Relations

All Piman-speaking people probably originated near the present Arizona-Sonora border. After the Pima Bajo had moved south, an intrusion of the Opata and, later, other groups such as the Apaches, split the Upper from the Lower Pima. Spanish explorers visited the Pima in the lower reaches of the Río Yaqui in 1533 and took slaves. The early main route to the north, pioneered by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's retreat from the Texas Gulf (1536), passed through Pima Bajo and Opata country, up the Sonora and other rivers into the Sierra Madre. Some explorers using this route included Marcos de Niza (1539), Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1540), and Francisco de Ibarra (1565). Spanish miners penetrated the region of the upper Río Sonora in search of minerals in the late sixteenth century, but missionaries and settlers had a greater impact on the Pima Bajo in the seventeenth.

Jesuit priests contacted the first Pima in the lower Río Sinaloa in 1591 and established missions. Father Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived in the region in 1697, and soon thereafter Jesuits established a system of missions among the Pima Alto, protected by a line of presidios. The Franciscans worked with the Opata to the north. Except when the Pima rebelled against the Spaniards with the neighboring Tarahumara in 1697, with the Yaqui and Mayo in 1740, and with the Seri in 1751, the relationship between priests and Indians was largely peaceful, although paternalistic and exploitative.

During this period of early exploration and Spanish settlement, the Mountain Pima accepted elements of western European cultureparticularly social and political organization, agricultural products and technology, and Catholicism. At the same time, the Jesuits tried to administer the Pima Bajo more effectively by gathering them into centrally located villages, where they could be converted and taught the principles of Christianity as well as Spanish social and political customs. This process was called reducción. Many Pima preferred their traditional ranchería life-style, which gave them freedom and arable lands for agriculture. The little resettlement that did occur was mitigated by a high death rate from diseases contracted through closer contact with Europeans. At this time, the Pima worked both Jesuit farmlands and Spanish mines, as well as their own farms. Sometimes mine officials removed Pima from the mission without consulting the missionaries and made the Pima work for goods and clothing assessed at inordinately higher prices, creating a form of debt peonage. In addition, Spanish settlers invaded Indian property for more land for cattle grazing.

In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from the New World by order of the king of Spain. The Jesuits had faced conflicts with cattlemen and miners and had been unable to maintain the production of food and livestock because of constant attacks by raiding Seri and unrest among the Pima Bajo, particularly those in Névome country. After a brief hiatus following the Jesuits' departure, Franciscans replaced them and enlarged the mission fields and herds. Apache raiding after the early 1700s reduced mining activity and forced the Spaniards out of Pima Bajo territory by the end of the century. At first, the attacks were only against small groups of Pima caught unawares while cultivating or traveling. Residents of outlying ranchos moved into Maycoba for protection and only returned to their fields under armed escort. Even Yécora lay ruined and deserted in the 1790s. At one point, the Maycoba Pima purchased the church santos (statues of patron saints) from the Spanish to help them defeat the Apache. Raids increased after the mid-1850s as pressures from U.S. cavalry troops made life difficult for the Apache in the north.

After the 1910 Revolutionary War, according to Pima accounts, the new Mexican government acknowledged the help of the Pima in Maycoba in combating the Apache raiders by presenting them with ejido land. The war led to a large migration of Mexicans into northern Sonora, especially in the 1930s; these migrants took over Pima lands and watering places. Some Pima Bajo, such as those in Yécora and Sahuaripa, migrated into deeper recesses in the Sierra Madre rather than face open conflict. Like many of the Sierra Indian groups, the Pima Bajo have been gradually displaced by non-Indians and absorbed into the larger Mexican society. Ceremonial rituals and other cultural practices are more intensely observed by the highland than by lowland groups, and there is more separationand conflictbetween highland Pima and neighboring town-dwelling mestizos than is the case with the lowland groups.


The Pima Bajo live in isolated homesteads called ranchos, in rock shelters, and in dwellings on the outskirts of mestizo towns or cities. Each rancho is made up of one or more households linked by kinship ties and surrounded by small farms. The word paraje is used by Dunnigan (1981a) to refer to a group of ranchos (similar to what the Spaniards called a ranchería) as well as to a neighborhood found in towns. Pima also live in the traditional Indian town of Maycoba, the ranching town of Yécora, two sawmill towns, in lowland towns and cities, and in a colonia in Cuidad Obregón. A campo is a small camp of agricultural workers similar to the migrant labor camps inhabited by undocumented workers in the United States. A few Mountain Pima use caves. Most Pima dwellings are constructed of adobe, wattle and daub, or pine boards or shingles nailed over a one-room pole framework. Most dwellings have an enclosed porch attached for cooking. Ramadas, or brush-roofed habitations with no walls or low walls of piled stones, are used as temporary structures in warmer seasons, when Pima work away from home. Occasionally a huki, a semisubterranean one-room structure with a slanted roof, is still used as a place for keeping weaving fibers moist and as a cool place for women to make baskets, mats, and hats.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Pima Bajo cash income is derived from agricultural wage labor for mestizos (who are called "Blancos" by the Pima), or in large agribusinesses near Ciudad Obregón, and from labor in the mining and timber industries. Mine wages exceed those from rancho farming, but such work is rarely permanent; miners face frequent layoffs and long periods of unemployment. Sawmills likewise tend to offer only temporary employment.

Pima Bajo have traditionally depended on agriculture. Many Pima, even while working in the mines or sawmills, maintain an economic partnership with family members who remain at the rancho. Working sons may send money home or return to help with the harvest or other agricultural work. In the highlands, the average Pima usually farms 0.4 hectares of arable land intensively along a river and keeps 1.6 hectares for grazing or hoe cultivation on hillsides. The basic crops are beans and maize; these are supplemented with squashes, wheat, potatoes, watermelons, and legumes. Flowers, tomatoes, green beans, chilies, onions, garlic, and other vegetables are grown in small fenced gardens. Pima Bajo maintain pear, peach, and, occasionally, apple trees; they also raise a few chickens and turkeys. Cattle are rare, and horses, mules, and oxen even more rare. The gathering of food plants, hunting, and fish trapping with narcotic plants are still very important during periods of drought and food shortage.

Economic exchange includes reciprocal relations with brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, and paternal uncles, as well as other affinally and consanguineally related persons or compadres. The exchange may involve the loan of a draft animal or a labor partnership known as a medias, in which one partner provides seed and labor and the second land and labor. In times of crisis, such as death, childbirth, drought, or conflicting obligations, a type of generalized reciprocity exists: assistance will be given without expectation of immediate or near-future return. When persons not of the nuclear family or of a different ethnic group are involved, the reciprocal relationship will be more temporary and quid pro quo; a Pima farmer might exchange with a Blanco store owner wild honey for cheese, venison for nonperishable goods, or palm fiber for a share in the profits of hat and mat making. In a situation in which many Pima are unable to become economically self-sufficient because of an inadequate supply of good land or a lack of draft animals, plows, or seeds, the pooling of resources and the striking of bargains with Pima and non-Pima alike make economic survival more likely. In addition, this arrangement can strengthen family relationships, provide a greater variety of foods, and act as an insurance policy against the failure of a part or all of one's crops.

Despite the potential effectiveness of economic exchange in keeping Pima families and culture intact, an increasing number of Mountain Pima become migrant laborers by necessity. Many move because of conflicts over the use or ownership of land and poor prospects for employment in the local mining and lumber industries. With their families or alone, they leave home in small groups for destinations in Ciudad Obregón, Hermosillo, or Navajoa to perform unskilled labor such as tending irrigating ditches, chopping cotton, and harvesting crops. The more experienced Pima may even travel a circuit of Sonoran towns and cities where peak work seasons occur at different times. Most of those who move away from the mountains frequently maintain home ties through economic and social reciprocity during visits and by receiving visitors from the mountains. Some individuals who remain at the workplace for many years lose their ties with Pima culture and become absorbed into the larger Mexican society.

Division of Labor. Within the core nuclear family, women usually are in charge of the domestic work such as cooking, washing, housekeeping, weaving, pottery making, and child care. Adult males are responsible for heavy labor such as farming and house building, and the young children are expected to watch the crops after seeding to protect them from birds and other scavengers. Older children assist their parents.

Land Tenure. The Pima were found living in what the Spaniards called rancherías, small groups of households surrounded by cultivated fields. The surrounding lands were used in common for small slash-and-burn cultivation, hunting, fishing, and gathering of medicinal plants. Over time, the Pima have lost possession of most of their land to intrusive Spaniards and mestizos. Outsiders considered the land open, unused, and therefore free to be settled. They characterized as grossly inefficient the land-tenure practices of the Pima, who used shifting cultivation of small tracts of land and communal lands for hunting and other purposes. The outsiders reasoned that, because the land was not being used appropriately from their point of view, they could assume ownership. Blanco ranchers today believe that only the farming of large tracts of land is efficient and good for the state's economy. The Pima continue to believe that the land has been theirs for centuries and that the mestizos are intruders who have gained possession through dubious means. The Pima also have ejidal lands, which are cultivated in individual plots and held in common.


Kin Groups and Descent. The bilateral kindred of the Pima Bajo typically consists of nuclear families that have increasingly intermarried so that affinal and consanguineal connections have produced a pattern of endogamy. The latent function may be to retain possession within the kin group of sufficient land to assure subsistence production. The pattern may also result from the small size of the intermarrying group. Among the Mountain Pima, nuclear families frequently live on ranchos or small farms, often with extended family in the household or in the parajes. The unification of family groupings through the association of siblings allows for the greatest reciprocity in economic and social terms.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship usage varies considerably among the different segments of Pima society. Generally persons under age 40 and those living in Blanco communities tend to use terminology modeled on the Spanish use. Modification of Pima kinship terminology has occurred in two ways: reduction in the number of kin categories recognized in speech, and extensive substitution of Spanish words for Pima terms. In particular, the bifurcate collateral classification for parents' siblings has been collapsed into a lineal system by applying the same term for relatives previously designated by different words; both mother's and father's sister came to be addressed as tía (Spanish: aunt) rather than by the separate terms indicating age (younger or older) and designating father's or mother's side of family. The same changes hold true for the father's side of the family, with use of the Spanish term tío. Similar changes occur in designations of the child's and grandparental generations.

Fictive Kinship. The custom of selecting cosponsors for various ceremonies, called compadrazgo (ritual coparenthood), has been adopted from Spanish conventions. This institution takes on the manifestations of fictive kinship, replete with all the reciprocal social and economic relationships that characterize kin ties. The most important aspect surrounds the Catholic ritual of baptism, with those for marriage and confirmation generally missing among the Pima. Compadres, as the cosponsors and parents of the sponsored are called, may on occasion be Blancos, but they are more frequently Pima and are usually selected from close blood relatives and affines of the parents. The presence of Pima terms for the male and female compadres may indicate that it overlays an ancient Pima practice, or it may mean that Pima terms have been applied to this institution. The child being sponsored (Pima: vak már; Spanish: ahijado ), calls his or her sponsors padrino and madrina. The parents of the child and the sponsors establish a lifelong relationship involving gift giving and respect; they refer to each other as vak 'dog and vak dáad (in Pima, the reciprocal terms in Spanish being compadre and comadre ). As with their mestizo neighbors, the most important relationship between nuclear families is with compadres.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Young Pima men and women enter into a conjugal relationship without a church or indigenous ritual, and the first household is usually neolocal within the same paraje as the husband's parents. Common residence for centuries in a restricted environment has led to a high rate of local endogamy between persons within the same or nearby communities. If a Pima woman has a conjugal relationship with a non-Indian, a situation which is rare (a male Pima marrying a non-Indian being even rarer), she usually lives with Pima relatives and raises any offspring as Pima. The non-Indian husband visits occasionally, but eventually deserts the union.

Domestic Unit. The basic unit of the Pima Bajo society is the nuclear family, with widowed parents or other consanguineal or affinal kin living in a one-room household with attached cooking shelter. The landholding unit, the rancho, sometimes includes an unmarried brother and sister or other combination of relatives. Mobile wage earners frequently attach themselves to the households of relatives at the place where they are seeking work, although this residency is not usually long-term. Male relatives will frequently return during planting or harvesting as part of the economic reciprocity established between both consanguineal and affinal relatives to ensure mutual survival.

Inheritance. Land and sometimes livestock are inherited equally among married sons and daughters. The land, however, tends to be held as a cooperative working unit among siblings. The larger tracts of land thus made available with joint tenancy permit more efficient production and the setting aside of fallow lands. If land and cattle are scarce, daughters defer usufruct rights to their brothers. If a man only has daughters, sons-in law can inherit the land after a period of working it. Wage earners must return to help during planting and harvesting to retain the rights of inheritance.

Socialization. Although little is known about the socialization process for Pima living in the lowlands or for females in general, young Yécora males working on the Maycoba ranchos of their immediate family or other relatives undergo socialization experiences quite different from those living in the towns. They learn to farm, hunt, fish, and collect wild plants and acquire knowledge of Pima subsistence techniques. During this time, they learn the importance of reciprocity and strong kinship relationships. They also learn good working habits and important cultural lore, such as mythology.

Sociopolitical Organization

Political Organization and Social Control. When first encountered, the Pima appear to have had an elected headman. Early Spanish influences resulting in the involvement of Pima in military forays perhaps imposed military leaders called captain, general, corporal, and others. The names have been translated into Pima at times, so that it is difficult to discern original from later political structure. The leadership structure seems to have been more like that of the Mayo and Cora, even more like the pre-Hispanic Gila River Pima and the Mesoamerican pattern than that of the neighboring Tarahumara. Today political control involves ejidal, municipio, and Indian leaders. Indigenous political organization consists of an Hispanic-colonial imposed system of elected governors and assistant governors. A governor controls the affairs of the Pima residents in the town of Maycoba and the nearby ranchos. The governor represents the tribe in matters involving municipio and state governments and, with the aid of his assistant, keeps official census records, is responsible for health matters and the schools, and arbitrates domestic and other disputes. As one of the few literate Indians, he deals with outsiders, is used as an intermediary by mestizos in assembling community work groups for local public projects such as road building, and acts as a hiring agent for mestizos.

Beyond this indigenous domain, political control is handled by ejido officers, mostly mestizos. This involves dealing with municipio, state, and federal authorities; protecting landholdings; collecting taxes; and registrating land. The chief ejido official, called the presidente or comisario, is responsible for acting as liaison among local citizens, including in matters affecting Indians, and brings before the municipio leaders any Pima who commits a serious crime such as murder, rape, or theft. The tribe does not have its own court, and members complain that problems of crime, except for petty matters handled by the governor and his assistant, are ignored by the Blanco authorities. Other ejidal officers include a treasurer, one charged with maintaining law and order and his assistant, and a range marshal and his assistant. The native and mestizo land-tenure and political systems are overlaid by another layer, that of the municipio, a wardlike system. The Yécora municipio administrative seat is in the town of Yécora. The presidente municipal and other officers take responsibility for law and order and other functions. Municipal officers are the main contacts with outside state and other political and legal entities, and hence have the greatest power in that they dispense federal and state services and funds, such as those for building and maintaining roads.

Despite holding civil offices in towns such as Maycoba, Pima responsibility and authority are severely limited by the Blanco power structure. Fourteen families have large landholdings in the area, with a member of one of them acting as the presidente municipal. Five of these families live in Maycoba, a supposed "Indian" town. Three of these families own stores where Pima must shop because there are no other facilities available. Other ranching families hire Pima for work. Pima dependence on the Blancos for store goods and wages ensures that Indian officials will not have power to implement decisions not favored by the non-Indians. In fact, the chief Pima political leader, the governor, must have approval of the mestizo power structure before standing for election.

Conflict. Initial relations between the Blancos and the Pima were friendly, or at least without marked conflict. In the beginning, the outsiders who settled in the region did not exploit the land being used, and the Pima earned wages as herders, drovers, plowmen, and laborers. Blancos also provided a small market for Pima crafts such as baskets, sleeping mats, and ceramic containers. After the 1910 Revolutionary War, the influx of Blancos increased steadily, and conflict over land use became widespread. For many reasons, the Pima are politically, socially, and economically powerless compared to their mestizo neighbors. They lack fluency in Spanish, literacy, money, and the influence needed to defend their rights. Power lies totally in the hands of the Blancos. The Pima say that lands the mestizos claim they purchased were acquired illegally; those who sold lands were duped or had no legal right to sell because communally owned properties can not be sold by individuals in the case of ejido lands. In other cases, the Pima maintain that the property had been temporarily rented or placed as collateral for loans, or that usufruct rather than sale of land had been intended. With more power and access to the institutions of power in Mexican society, the Blancos have developed effective strategies for the continued domination and exploitation of the indigenous people. They create economic dependency on store credit and wages, influence the election of Indian officials, and deny them representation at ejido, municipio, and state levels.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Ceremonies. As the Jesuits established themselves in Mexico in the mid-seventeenth century, the Pima Bajo became nominal Catholics. Little is now known about early Pima religious beliefs except for references to fertility rites practiced at planting time to assure that seeds would grow. According to some accounts, this ceremony was performed among the lowland Pima in the 1920s. Women danced on a plank-covered olla (jar) buried in the ground, containing maize, squash, and beans. The dancers disrobed as they ran to the Río Yaqui between lines formed by men. Sunday meetings were held in the central pueblos by members of surrounding rancherías. Local disputes were settled, matters of mutual interest were discussed, and news exchanged. This was accompanied by eating and drinking maize beer, húun váki, the tesguino of the Tarahumara. Similar Sunday meetings are still held by the Tarahumara today.

Although nothing has been written about the religious ceremonies of the lowlands, the highland group celebrates two main fiestas attended by many in Maycoba, the feast days of San Francisco (4 October) and Easter. Minor celebrations are held to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe (12 December) and the Day of the Cross (3 May). The feast day of San Juan, 24 June, celebrates the coming of the summer rains at each rancho. Ritual bathing, visiting, and the drinking of húun váki accompanies this celebration. Every year on the feast day of San Francisco, parents bring their unbaptized children to Maycoba to be christened by a priest and formally registered as members of the ejido. Special masses are held, and the saint is paraded in procession around the town square. This baptismal ceremony becomes legal proof of an individual's community of origin.

Easter week, with its more elaborate rituals, revolves around an organization of fariseos (Pharisees) consisting of young men installed by the Pima governor to run the community during Holy Week. The young men either volunteer or join through capture by other fariseos. They paint their faces white and bind bandannas around their heads. Their duties are to protect the holy relics (a crucifix and a picture of the Virgin Mary), which are placed on litters for daily processions. They enforce a prohibition on bathing and unnecessary work through patrols during the week, organize the Good Friday processional along with members of the Blanco church, and carry out the ritual creation and destruction of a Judas effigy. At times they act like clowns or tricksters, especially when they go from house to house during the week asking for food and when they try to douse all the hearth fires in town with water on Holy Saturday. After the hearth fires have been doused, the fariseos perform rituals involving dancing, parading, and wrestling with each other and with Blanco boys. Another group called the judíos, organized by mestizo young men, holds similar fiestas in Maycoba. Both organizations exist in Yepachi under the control of Pima. Here they also still have the Pascola dancer and the more traditional and sacred rituals called yumaris, which are similar to the practices of the neighboring Guarijío and Tarahumara.

Although many of the activities of Easter week involve cooperation and coordination with the Blancos on the use of the church and religious artifacts, the fiesta also contains symbolic and real undertones of the rivalry that exists between the Mountain Pima and the Blancos. The Pima church, which originally held the town santos, deteriorated, and the Blancos built a new church in which they placed the santos from the old church. The conflict between Pima fariseos and mestizo judíos is a significant symbolization of the hostility between Blancos and the Pima. In other places where both group roles are played by members of the same ethnicity, hostility and conflict between the two groups is still symbolized. Blanco youths costumed as judíos wear grotesque costumes with devilfaced paper-bag masks. They, too, cause mischief and even clown with the Pima fariseos and challenge them to wrestling matches. After the Holy Saturday parade of the santos, the fariseos dance to music supplied by Pima and Blanco guitars, then return to the church and hurl broken pottery shards into the air so that they fall on everyone. Another snakelike line dance moves before the statue of San Francisco. When the Pima governor signals the end of the dance, the fariseos fall to the ground and are beaten by some of the Pima women. Subsequently, the fariseos engage in friendly physical combat with each other and with some of the Blanco males. The fariseos dance with the Judas effigy, which is ritually shot and burned later that Saturday afternoon.

Arts. Pima Bajo women provide additional family income by weaving baskets, mats, and hats, although in some places only a few women do so. Ceramic production is still an important industry among many Pima as well. Woodworkingin the form of stools, bowls, wooden plows, bottle Stoppers, and husking pegscan be found among both the Maycoba and the Onavas Pima. Most of the pottery is plainware, but a subtle blending of clays and mineral pigments and an eye for form have produced fine examples of indigenous crafts. They use the coil and scrape technique. Making baskets was once one of the major occupations of Pima women, who utilized palm and bear-grass fibers in their construction. Although both Pima basketry and ceramic pottery are made for utilitarian purposes, they also merit artistic praise. Some pottery and baskets are so well crafted that they are displayed at folk-art exhibits and, with mats and hats, are traded or sold in Mexican markets. Elaborate body painting and scarification, adopted in Spanish colonial times, were applied on chest, arms, lips, or chin at baptism by a medicine man.

Medicine. Earlier reports exist of curanderos, or curers using massage, herbs, and songs to treat a patient, but little is known about what curanderos do today. Seventeenth-century references suggest that they took typical shamanic roles such as chupadore (sucker) and sopladore (blower), who would try to cure a patient by removal of foreign objects or evil elements from the body. Today older women serve as midwives, and certain persons are known for their ability to cure specific maladies. There is scant knowledge about Pima etiology of disease, but in general they make extensive use of medicinal plants for medical problems. For example, a poultice of Agave bovicornuta or a lotion from Hymenocallis sonorensis is used for wounds, whereas stomach and kidney disorders are treated with the boiled roots of Aristolochia brevipes. The bark of the palo piojo is mashed and soaked in water for use as a flea dip, and whooping cough is treated with an iguana grease (the iguana is also eaten). Malaria, however, remains a constant problem. The Mexican government has at times issued malaria pills, but few doctors are available in this rural, isolated region.

Death and Afterlife. Little is known about early Pima beliefs regarding death and afterlife, but the practice of providing food and drink after the burial has been maintained. Cattle were formerly slaughtered on such occasions, presumably as a sacrifice, but few Pima now raise cattle. Likewise, few can afford a casket. There is a tendency to avoid a church funeral, perhaps for economic reasons as well.


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