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Nearly 50 researchers from Mexico and the United States of America, as well as people from Tohono O’odham, Yaqui, Cocopah and Gila River indigenous communities participated in the XI Southwest Symposium in Hermosillo, Sonora, where historical continuity of the bi national region was be addressed.


The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) is one of the organizing institutions of the academic event where archaeology addressed the “communicating vessels” maintained to present between U.S. Southwest and Mexican Northwest, separated since 19th century. Different aspects from the Prehispanic epoch to the present millennium were discussed.

Archaeologist Elisa Villalpando from Sonora INAH Center, one of the organizers of the event, commented that 2 lectures published details of the Yaqui warriors osseous rests, killed in 1902 during Mazatan genocide in Sonora. After almost 100 years, the rests were handed over by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to the Yaqui people, in October 2009.

Academics from Universidad de Sonora and INAH, and Yaqui and Gila River indigenous people presented information from civil and military documents, third-generation oral testimonies and physical anthropologist Alex Hrdlicka field notes, as well as Yaqui people's own perception regarding the repatriation of their warriors.

The archaeologist remarked other scientific lectures that included reassessments such as the Southwest concept, considering time and space limits, as well as variants of what has been homologated under the concept “Mar Chichimeca”, inhabited by different societies with economies other than hunting and gathering.

Villalpando added that the presence of members of Tohono O’odham, Yaqui, Cocopah and Gila River communities, shows the increasing integration between native oral costumes and scientific analysis. “Multiple expressions” perspective allows better balanced interpretation of the past social change.

One of the lectures pointed out the difficult relations between native societies distributed from northern Mexico City to New Spain frontier in 16th century. El Mixton and Tiguex wars are examples of this.

In terms of heritage management, Elisa Villalpando said that one of the presentations made a critic exam of programs implemented in Mexico and United States on the matter. Advantages and disadvantages of each system, weaknesses and strengths were analyzed.

“Collaborating across cultures” addressed projects linked to transnational archaeological research and cases such as Cocopah people, who maintain spiritual practices in spite of imposed frontiers, concluding the XI Southwest Symposium.