Commanders and leaders
Rafael Izábal (WIA)
Frederick H.L. Ryder
José Maria Leiva Peres
Juan Maldonado †
Cerro del Gallo
Indian wars and conflicts in New Spain
Mexican Indian Wars
Conquest of Yucatán
Conquest of the Aztec Empire
Conquest of Chiapas
Conquest of Guatemala
Conquest of Petén
Conquest of Cibola
First Magdalena massacre
The Yaqui Wars, were a series of armed conflicts between New Spain,
and the later Mexican republic, against the Yaqui Native Americans.
The period began in 1533 and lasted until 1929. The Yaqui Wars, along
with the Caste War against the Maya, were the last conflicts of the
centuries long Mexican Indian Wars. Over the course of nearly 400
years, the Spanish and the Mexicans repeatedly launched military
campaigns into Yaqui territory which resulted in several serious
battles and some infamous massacres.
1.1 18th century
1.2 Juan Banderas
1.3 Mid-19th century resistance
1.5 Yaqui Uprising
1.6 Later developments
3 See also
The cause of the conflicts was like many of the Indian Wars. In 1684,
the Spanish colonists in the present day Mexican state of Sonora
discovered silver in the
Rio Yaqui Valley. Following this, the Spanish
gradually began settling on Yaqui land, and by 1740, the natives were
ready to resist. Some minor conflicts from before dated back to
1533 but in 1740 the Yaqui united with the neighboring Mayo, Opata,
and Pima tribes and successfully drove the colonists out by
Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence from
Spain (1810–1821) the
Yaqui did not participate on either side. It was when Occidente passed
a law in 1825 making the Yaqui its citizens and subjecting them to
taxes that the Yaqui decided to go to war, since they had not
previously been subjected to taxes. The first fighting was at Rahum.
The movement was encouraged by Pedro Leyva, a Catholic priest and took
the Virgin of Guadalupe as its symbol. The Yaqui coalesced around Juan
Banderas as their leader. Banderas managed to get the Mayos, Opatas
Pimas to join in the war against the Mexican government. Occidente
was so affected by the war that the capital was moved from
Fuerte. In 1827 Banderas' forces were defeated by Mexicans in the
vicinity of Hermosillo. This defeat was partly due to the Yaquis
having primarily bows and arrows, while the Mexicans had guns. After
this defeat, Banderas negotiated a peace with Occidente, in which he
was granted pardon, and recognized as captain-general of the Yaqui
town, and was given a salary.
In 1828 the office of captain-general was abolished, and Occidente
government reasserted its right to tax the Yaqui, as well as proposing
a plan for allotting the Yaqui lands. In 1832 Banderas renewed the war
against the Mexican authorities, in cooperation with Dolores
Gutiérrez, a chief of the Opata people.
In 1833 Banderas and Gutiérrez were executed after their forces were
defeated in a battle near Buenavista, Mexico.
Mid-19th century resistance
Some warriors fled from their occupied pueblos along the
Rio Yaqui and
continued fighting in the Sierra Vakatetteve. In 1834 Yaqui at Torim
tried to drive the Mexican settlers from that location. The Mexican
forces in this fighting were led by a Yaqui, Juan Ignacio Juscamea.
Juscamea continued to cooperate with the Mexican government until 1840
when he was killed by anti-Mexican Yaquis in fighting at
During the 1830s and 1840s the Yaqui often allied with Manuel Gándara
in his struggle against
José de Urrea
José de Urrea for control of Sonora. In 1838
this led to Urrea capturing the coastal salt deposits of the Yaqui and
transferring them to state control.
In 1857 Gándara was removed from power by Ignacio Pesqueira. The
Yaqui under the leadership of Mateo Marquin, also known as Jose Maria
Barquin, were among the chief allies of Gándara in his attempt to
regain control of Sonora. Initially most of the fighting was in the
Guaymas River valley. However, in 1858
Cócorit became a point of
violence. The Mayos joined the Yaqui in waging war against the Mexican
government, and destroyed Santa Cruz, Sonora.
In August 1860, bands of Yaqui and Mayo insurgents, some 1,000 or
1,200 strong, marched towards Guaymas, burning and leveling Mexican
settlements as they advanced. The citizens of
Guaymas fortified the
town, declaring a state of siege, and armed 350 men in its defense.
The Prefect of
Guaymas dispatched a courier to the
Hermosillo, demanding additional aid.
The dispatch reached Hermosillon on the 31st of August. Governor
Pesquiera, with a force of sixty horse and eighty infantry, promptly
left Hermosillo. He intended to travel to El Cachora to gather an
additional 300 troops, but the Yaqui ambushed him and his troops en
route at Jacalitos, a small village about forty-two miles from
The inexperienced Mexican troops fled the battle, leaving Pesquiera
General Angel Trias of Chihuahua, who accompanied Pesquiera, with
some eight or ten of the body guard to face 600 well armed Yaqui.
Pesquiera and Angel Trias eventually succeeded in escaping and joined
the forces at El Cachora. Following this defeat, Pesqueira invaded
Mayo and Yaqui territory in 1862, and forced them to accept peace
terms. The peace was negotiated at Torim, Sonora. The terms of the
peace allowed a pardon to the leaders of the Yaqui, but required a
military post to be established at Agua Caliente, Sonora, for the
Mexicans to control the actions of the Yaqui.
After the French victory over Pesqueira at
Guaymas in 1865, the Yaqui
allied with the French in fighting the Mexicans. Mateo Marquin
publicly expressed support for the French. Refugio Tenori, a leader of
the Opata, also allied with the French. These Native allies of the
French took control of Alamos, Sonora, and drove Pesquira from his
base at Ures. In 1868, with the withdrawal of the French, Pesqueira
appointed pro-Mexican Yaqui to administer the Yaqui towns, but in
Bácum the Yaqui killed this official.
Pesqueira then appointed Garcia Morales to lead a campaign against the
Yaqui. In 1868, 600 Yaqui surrendered at Cócorit. The Mexicans held
400 Yaqui in a church, and when they felt the Yaqui were not being
cooperative enough, fired artillery on the church causing a fire that
killed 120 men, women and children. This was representative of the
harsh military attacks on the Yaqui, who accepted peace terms to avoid
continued massacres. Affairs such as this drove many of the
natives to emigrate, while others were deported by the Mexicans or
Main article: Cajemé
In 1874 Pesqueira appointed
Cajemé as alcalde-mayor of all the towns
of both the Yaqui and Mayo. José J. Pesqueira, son of the current
governor, was designated successor to the governor. This caused an
attempt to violently appoint a new governor, which Pesqueira reacted
to by attacking
Cajemé and his people. From Medano, Pesqueira
attacked a large number of Yaqui residents, killing Yaqui just because
they were present, and pillaging their farms and ranches.
In 1876 the Yaqui leader José Maria Leiva Peres, or Cajemé,
established a small independent republic in Sonora. By then there were
only about 4,000 undefeated Yaqui, and they attempted to defend their
county by building the fortification called El Añil (The Indigo). El
Añil was located near the village of Vícam, in the middle of a thick
forest and on the left bank of the Yaqui river. The fortification
consisted of a wide moat. Food and livestock were stockpiled within
the fortification, and to assure a source of water, there was a large
trench to the river. There was also a wooden stockade with walls made
of thick trunks of trees placed side by side, and woven with branches
providing an enclosure where the 4000
Yaqui people were protected.
Agustin Ortiz, whose brother Carlos was then the governor of Sonora,
led an attack from
Navojoa to Capetemaya in 1882, with the intention
of capturing Cajemé.
Cajemé was wounded in the Battle of Capetemaya,
but the forces of Ortiz were routed. Fighting in the Mayo territories
continued until 1884 when they agreed submitted to Mexican authority.
Cajemé continued to insist on his independence.
In 1885 Loreto Molino, a Yaqui who had previously been Cajemé's chief
assistant, led a sea based raid from
Guaymas against Cajemé's home.
The house was burned down, but
Cajemé was in the south at the time
and thus survived the attack. This led to a resumption of
full-scale war between the Yaqui and the Mexican government.
In May, 1886, the Mexican army began a series of military campaigns
against the main Yaqui fortress of El Añil.
General Marcos Carrillo,
with 1,200 soldiers, initially attacked El Añil in a fierce battle to
dislodge the indigenous Yaqui forces.
General Ángel Martínez brought
up an additional 1,500 Mexican soldiers, and concentrated his forces
to finish the campaign with a decisive blow. El Añil was captured on
May 12, 1886. Only a few Yaqui soldiers escaped by fleeing deep into
the mountains, leaving 200 dead, and some 2,000 people, consisting
primarily of the elderly, children, and the sick. The losses of the
Mexican forces were 10 officers and 59 troops. Following the
battle, the people living in the villages of Huiviris, Potam, Bacum,
Cócorit were amnestied by the Mexican government, in return for
giving up their weapons. In return, the people in the villages were
given clothes and food. The bulk of the remaining Yaqui soldiers were
now unable to make war directly on Mexican military forces, so hid in
the mountains, while being persecuted and systematically decimated. At
Cajemé sent a note to
General Juan Hernández saying"
"Desde luego nos someteremos todos a la obediencia del gobierno, bajo
la condición de que dentro de 15 días se retiren todas sus fuerzas
que están en el río Yaqui para
Guaymas y Hermosillo, de no hacerlo
así, pueden ustedes obrar de manera que les convenga; yo, en unión
de mi nación, estoy dispuesto a hacer hasta la última defensa."
"We will all submit in obedience to government, under the condition
that within 15 days [the government will] withdraw all their forces at
Rio Yaqui to
Guaymas and Hermosillo. Failing to do so, you can act
in a way that suits them [the government]. I, together with my nation,
am willing to continue [fighting] until the last defense."
Nearly one year later,
Cajemé was captured in the village of San
José de Guaymas, about 10 miles outside of the Port of Guaymas.
Cajemé was eventually transported to the mouth of the Yaqui River,
and paraded through many of the Yaqui villages to show that he had
been captured. On April 23, 1887,
Cajemé was executed at Tres Cruces
de Chumampaco. Juan Maldonado took Cajemé's place, and continued a
guerrilla war in the Sierra del Bacatete. The Yaqui towns along the
Rio Yaqui became mostly deserted, with many of the inhabitants fleeing
into the surrounding mountains, and to other states in Mexico,
including Chihuahua and Sinaloa.
Main article: Yaqui Uprising
In February 1896 an event known as the
Yaqui Uprising began after the
Lauro Aguirre drafted a plan to overthrow the
government of Porfirio Díaz. Aguirre and his men were able to
convince several Yaqui and Pima natives to join in the revolt so on
August 12 a combined force of no less than seventy men attacked the
customs house at Nogales, Sonora. A battle then ensued which left at
least three people dead and many more wounded. During the fight a
group of American militia formed in the adjoining town of Nogales,
Arizona and they assisted the Mexican defenders in repelling the
rebels' attack. Ultimately the Yaquis and the others were obliged to
withdraw from the area, ending the uprising and leading to a United
States Army operation to track the hostiles. Two companies of the 24th
Infantry Regiment were assigned to hunt the rebels who were being
pursued by troops of the
Colonel Emilio Kosterlitsky.
However, the rebels got away, some escaped to Arizona. In 1897 a peace
treaty was signed in Ortiz between the Yaquis and the Mexican
government but in 1899 another serious outbreak of hostilities began
and it led to the bloody
Mazocoba Massacre of 1900, in which several
hundred natives were killed. Manuel
Balbás wrote in Recuerdos del Yaqui how some Yaqui's at Mazocoba
survived combat, but chose to take their own life, either with their
own weapons, or by throwing themselves from the cliffs rather than
surrender to the enemy. One event in which a young woman who had been
hiding but was discovered, without a tear in her eyes, "approached the
body of her loved one, knelt a moment, bowed slightly, and perhaps for
a last time looked at the face of the beloved, and arose at once,
quickly running like a gazelle toward the precipice, and without a
moment's hesitation , plunged into the abyss." It was at this
point in time, in the late 1890s and early years of the 1900s, that a
large number of
Yaqui people began traveling north to settle in the
United States around
Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, and into parts of
Texas, including the El Paso area, as well as the Lubbock area, where
a group of Yaqui refugees had settled years earlier.
a group of Yaqui Indians at the surrender and signing of peace treaty
at Ortiz, Mexico, ca.1910. Two Mexicans stand near three Indians in
Around this time Porfirio Díaz began advocating for a solution to the
Yaqui wars. By 1903 the decision was made to deport both the peaceful
and rebellious Yaqui natives to the
Yucatan and Oaxaca. Meanwhile,
from 1904 to 1909, the Mexican governor of Sonora, Rafael Izábal, led
"organized manhunts" in which about 8,000 to 15,000 Yaquis were taken
prisoner and "virtually enslaved".
15,000 to 60,000 Yaquis perished in deportations in 1900 through
1911. Following the outbreak of the
Mexican Revolution in 1910,
Yaqui warriors joined all of the armies of the major rebel factions.
They also began resettling their ancestral lands along the Rio Yaqui.
In 1911, Díaz was exiled and President
Francisco Madero took office.
He is said to have promised the
Yaqui people compensation for their
losses but by 1920, when the main phase of the war ended, the promises
were forgotten. By 1916, Mexican generals, such as Álvaro Obregón,
began establishing estates on Yaqui land during the revolution and
this led to renewed hostilities between the natives and the
It was during this period of the conflict that the
United States Army
fought the last battle of the American Indian Wars. In January 1918, a
small group of about thirty natives were intercepted by Buffalo
Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry, just across the international border,
near Arivaca, Arizona. In the thirty-minute skirmish that followed,
the Yaqui commander was killed and a handful of others were taken
prisoner. The last major engagement of the
Yaqui Wars came almost ten
years later in 1927 at the Battle of Cerro del Gallo (Hill of the
Rooster). It was reported in the Mexican newspaper El Universal that
because the Yaqui had withdrawn in the mountains, the Mexican Federal
Staff had decided to undertake a major offensive against them.
Operations would be directed by
General Obregón, assisted by the
General Manzo. According to another report published on October 5,
1927, 12,000 "federales" were soon to present in the state of Sonora,
equipped with 8mm machine guns, airplanes and poison gas. On
October 2, 1927, the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times reported that
R. Manzo, Commander of the federal forces in Sonora, had informed
President Calles that he expected the Yaqui chieftain, Luis Matius,
would soon surrender after holding out in the Bacatete Mountains for
more than a year. After that some minor warfare continued into
1929 but the violence was quelled mainly by bombings from the Mexican
Air Force. The
Mexican Army also established posts at all of the Yaqui
settlements and this action prevented future conflict.
The Yaqui warrior
Cajemé in April 1887, taken at the time of his
arrest by Mexican authorities.
Cajemé under arrest at
Guaymas in April 1887.
The Yaqui leader Anastacio Cuca in May 1887.
Tres Cruces de Chumampaco in 1895, where
Cajemé was killed.
Yaqui people, circa 1910.
Álvaro Obregón and his staff of Yaquis, sometime between
1910 and 1915.
A group of more than 30 Yaqui Indian prisoners being escorted away by
Mexican soldiers, Mexico, ca.1910
A group of more than 30 women and children Yaqui Indian prisoners
under guard, Guaymas, Mexico, ca.1910
A group of Yaqui Indians, including Chief Talaviate, at the surrender
and signing of peace treaty at Ortiz, Mexico, ca.1910
Pascua Yaqui Tribe
Texas Band of Yaqui Indians
Mexican Apache Wars
Mexican Comanche Wars
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
^ a b c d es:Guerra del Yaqui
^ Orientation - Yaqui
^ a b Yaqui history: A Short History
^ Edward H. Spicer, Cycles of Conquest (Tucson: University of Arizona
Press, 1962) p. 60–61
^ Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 62
^ Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 64
^ a b c Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 65
^ "From Sonora: The Correspondent of the Bulietin [Official State
newspaper of Sonora]". Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 20, Number 2974.
8 October 1860. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
^ Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 66
^ Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 67
^ a b c d A Short History of the Yaqui Indians by Edith te Wechel
^ Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 68
^ Troncoso (Francisco de Borja del Paso y Troncoso), pp. 117-124
^ Spicer, Cycles of Conquest, p. 71
^ Troncoso, pp.124-129
^ Garcia, pg. 173-176
^ Ruiz, pg. 97-117
^ URREA, TERESA The Handbook of Texas Online Texas State Historical
^ Johnson, pg. 664–665
^ Garza, pg. 40–41
^ Huachuca Illustrated, vol 1, 1993: Fort Huachuca: The Traditional
Home of the Buffalo Soldier
^ Manuel Balbás, Recuerdos del Yaqui: Principales Episodios Durante
la Campaña de 1899 a 1901 (
Mexico City: Sociedad de Edition y Liberia
Franco Americana, 1927) p. 58
^ Rummel, Rudolph. "Mexican Democide Line 57". Hawaii.edu Power
^ El Universal, September 28, 1927
^ El Universal, October 05, 1927
^ "Surrender Due in Yaqui Strife: Leader Expected to Accept Mexican
Terms Today," Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1927.
^ "Yaqui War Near End: Final Chapter of Century of Strife May be
Written with Chief's Surrender". Lawrence Daily Journal-World.
September 30, 1927. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
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