Mayo people

Last updated
Indigenas mayos.jpg
Mayo deer dance
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Mexico 40,000
Mayo, Spanish
traditional religion, Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Approximation of the extension of the Mayo habitat Mayoterritory.jpg
Approximation of the extension of the Mayo habitat

The Mayo or Yoreme are an indigenous group in Mexico, living in the northern states of southern Sonora, northern Sinaloa and small settlements in Durango. [1]

Indigenous peoples of Mexico, Native Mexicans, or Mexican Native Americans, are those who are part of communities that trace their roots back to populations and communities that existed in what is now Mexico prior to the arrival of Europeans.

Sonora State of Mexico

Sonora, officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora, is one of 31 states that, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 federal entities of United Mexican States. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo. Sonora is bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border primarily with the state of Arizona with a small length with New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.

Sinaloa State of Mexico

Sinaloa, officially the Estado libre y soberano de Sinaloa, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, compose the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 18 municipalities and its capital city is Culiacán Rosales.


Mayo people originally lived near the Mayo River and Fuerte River valleys. [1] The Mayo sustain themselves mainly by agriculture and fishing, but also create artwork and crafts.

The Mayo River is located in the Mexican state of Sonora.

Fuerte River river in Mexico

The Fuerte River is a river in the state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. It flows from headwaters in the Sierra Madre Occidental to the Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of California.


In their own language they call themselves Yoreme. [2] [3] The term Mayo means "the people of the river bank" and comes from the Mayo River. [1]


The Mayo language belongs to the Cahita branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. [1] It is closely related to Yaqui and it is spoken by approximately 40,000 people (Ethnologue 1995 census).

Mayo is an Uto-Aztecan language. It is spoken by about 40,000 people, the Mexican Mayo or Yoreme Indians, who live in the South of the Mexican state of Sonora and in the North of the neighboring state of Sinaloa. Under the General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples"Law of Linguistic Rights, it is recognized as a "national language" along with 62 other indigenous languages and Spanish which all have the same validity in Mexico. The language is considered 'critically endangered' by UNESCO.

Uto-Aztecan languages language family

Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a family of indigenous languages of the Americas, consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found almost entirely in the Western United States and Mexico. The name of the language family was created to show that it includes both the Ute language of Utah and the Nahuan languages of Mexico.

Yaqui, locally known as Yoeme or Yoem Noki, is a Native American language of the Uto-Aztecan family. It is spoken by about 20,000 Yaqui people, in the Mexican state of Sonora and across the border in Arizona in the United States.


Customary, everyday dress worn by Mayo women, displayed at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City. MAPElNorte049.JPG
Customary, everyday dress worn by Mayo women, displayed at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.

They own traditional authorities, who are elected by vote and their hierarchy is respected on par with the Mexican civil laws.

The earliest inhabitants of this region hunted, fished, and gathered plants. They gradually developed an agricultural technique that allowed them to settle in various communities. On arrival of the Spaniards in the today states of Sonora and Sinaloa, the Mayos were part of an Indian confederacy with the Apaches, Pima, and Yaqui. Their purpose was the joint defense of the invasion of other groups, mutual respect for their territory, and cultural exchange.

Spaniards people native to any part of Spain or that hold Spanish citizenship

Spaniards are a Romance nation and ethnic group native to Spain. Within Spain, there are a number of nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history and diverse culture. Although the official language of Spain is commonly known as "Spanish", it is only one of the national languages of Spain, and is less ambiguously known as Castilian, a standard language based on the medieval romance speech of the Kingdom of Castile in north and central Spain. Historically, the Spanish people's heritage includes the pre-Celts and Celts.

Pima people Native American peoples

The Pima are a group of Native Americans living in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona. The majority population of the surviving two bands of the Akimel Oʼodham are based in two reservations: the Keli Akimel Oʼotham on the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and the On'k Akimel Oʼodham on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC).

Currently, most Mayo farm, often with advanced techniques. They fish and make handicrafts intended for use by the community. They build their adobe or wood houses, depending on the climate and location.

Adobe Building material made from earth and organic materials

Adobe is a building material made from earth and organic materials. Adobe is Spanish for mudbrick, but in some English-speaking regions of Spanish heritage, the term is used to refer to any kind of earth construction. Most adobe buildings are similar in appearance to cob and rammed earth buildings. Adobe is among the earliest building materials, and is used throughout the world.


The first traces of settlements in the Mayo region date from 180 CE in the present municipality of Huatabampo, Sonora.

After the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish military campaigns were organized to subdue the Mayo region to the Spanish crown in 1531. However it was not achieved until 1599, through the mediation of Jesuit missionaries.

The Jesuit Pedro Méndez tried evangelizing the Mayo. However, Mayos did not cease to resist the Spaniards. In 1740 marked an armed uprising, which ended with the victory again for the Spanish, after which a period of peace lasted almost a century.

For 1867 the Mayo returned to take up arms with the Yaquis against the government of Mexico. They achieved a peace agreement after the Mexican Revolution with the distribution of land as communal property. The Mayo fought with Alvaro Obregón's Constitutionalist fighters during the revolution. [4]


The main Mayo festival takes place during Easter and portrays the passion of Christ. Other festivals celebrated St. Juan Bautista, St. Francis of Assisi, and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Mayo flag

The Mayo flag Bandera mayo (yoreme).png
The Mayo flag

The Mayo Flag was designed by a young Sonoran individual, whose name is not known. A deer surrounded by stars, called masochoquim or "Deer of the stars" in Cahita culture, stands on an orange field, representing the earth.

Notable Mayo people


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Who Are the Mayos?". Arizona State Museum. University of Arizona. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  2. Crumrine, N. R. (1977). The Mayo Indians of Sonora: A people who refuse to die. University of Arizona Press.
  3. "Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas - México". (in Spanish).
  4. Yetman and Van Devender 53
  5. Yetman and Van Devender 3

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Further reading