|Regions with significant populations|
|Seri • Spanish|
|Traditionally animists, currently primarily Christian|
The Seri are an indigenous group of the Mexican state of Sonora. The majority reside on the Seri communal property (Spanish, ejido), in the towns of Punta Chueca (Seri: Socaaix) and El Desemboque (Seri: Haxöl Iihom) on the mainland coast of the Gulf of California. Tiburón Island (Tahejöc) and San Esteban Island (Cofteecöl and sometimes Hast) were also part of their traditional territory. They were historically seminomadic hunter-gatherers who maintained an intimate relationship with both the sea and the land. They are one of the ethnic groups of Mexico that has most strongly maintained their language and culture throughout the years after contact with Spanish and Mexican cultures.
Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
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 with the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.
Punta Chueca is a Seri town located on the Gulf of California in the Mexican state of Sonora. It is located 25 kilometers north of the fishing and tourist town of Bahía de Kino. Both of these towns are part of the Municipality of Hermosillo. One of the two villages on the Seri Indian communal property, it has small stores, a primary school and a small satellite-fed secondary school (telesecundaria). It is one of the closest points on the mainland to Tiburón Island, separated from it by the Canal del Infiernillo. According to the Mexican census of 2010, the town, had a population of 520 inhabitants.
The Seri people are not related culturally or linguistically to other groups that have lived in the area, such as the Opata, Yaqui (sg.: Yequim, pl.: Yectz), O'odham (sg.: Hapaay), or Cochimí. The Seri language is distinct from all others in the region and is considered a language isolate.
The Opata are three indigenous peoples of Mexico. Opata territory, the “Opatería” in Spanish, encompasses the mountainous northeast and central part of the state of Sonora, extending to near the border with the United States. Most Opatan towns were situated in river valleys and had an economy based on irrigated agriculture. In the 16th century, when they first met the Spanish explorers, the Opata were the most numerous people in Sonora. Today, some people continue to identify as Opatas and are working to restore aspects of pre-contact Opata culture, and revitalize Opata identity. Some sources indicate that as an identifiable ethnic group, the Opata and their language are now extinct, or nearly extinct.
The O'odham peoples, including the Tohono O'odham, the Pima or Akimel O'odham, and the Hia C-ed O'odham, are an indigenous Uto-Aztecan peoples of the Sonoran desert in southern and central Arizona and northern Sonora, united by a common heritage language, the O'odham language. Today, many O'odham live in the Tohono O'odham Nation, the San Xavier Indian Reservation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Ak-Chin Indian Community or off-reservation in one of the cities or towns of Arizona.
Seri is an indigenous language spoken by between 716 and 900 Seri people in Punta Chueca and El Desemboque, two villages on the coast of Sonora, Mexico. The language is generally considered an isolate, however, there have been attempts to include it in the theoretical Hokan language family. There is no concrete evidence for connections to other languages at this time.
Beside the Apache (sg.: Hapats, pl.: Hapatsoj) and Yaqui, the Seri are best known as fierce warriors for their fierce resistance against subjugation by the Spanish (sg.: Casopin) and later Mexicans (sg./pl.: Cocsar).
The Apache are a group of culturally related Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States, which include the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Salinero, Plains and Western Apache. Distant cousins of the Apache are the Navajo, with which they share the Southern Athabaskan languages. There are Apache communities in Oklahoma, Texas, and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers. The Apache Nations are politically autonomous, speak several different languages and have distinct cultures.
A warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based warrior culture society that recognizes a separate warrior class or caste.
The name Seri is an exonym of uncertain origin. (Claims that it is from Opata or from Yaqui were nineteenth-century speculations based on similarity to words in those languages and not with clear evidence.) /kom'kɑːk/, phonetically [koŋˈkɑːk]); singular: Cmiique (phonemically /'kmiːkɛ/), phonetically [ˈkw̃ĩːkːɛ]).Their name for themselves is Comcaac (phonemically
The Seri were formerly divided into six bands. They were:
Bahía de Kino is a town in the Mexican state of Sonora, Hermosillo (municipality), on the Sea of Cortez ; it was named after Eusebio Kino. The name also applies to the adjacent bay between Tiburón Island and Punta San Nicolás, Sonora. The names Bahía de Kino, Bahía Kino and Kino Bay are used interchangeably.
Guaymas is a city in Guaymas Municipality, in the southwest part of the state of Sonora, in northwestern Mexico. The city is 117 km south of the state capital of Hermosillo, and 242 miles from the U.S. border. The municipality is located on the Gulf of California and the western edge of the Sonoran Desert and has a hot, dry climate and 117 km of beaches. The municipality’s formal name is Guaymas de Zaragoza and the city’s formal name is the Heróica Ciudad de Guaymas.
Tiburón Island is the largest island in the Gulf of California and the largest island in Mexico, with an area of 1,201 square kilometres (464 sq mi). It was made a nature reserve in 1963 by President Adolfo López Mateos.
Three of the bands were further subdivided. Relations between bands were not always friendly, and internal conflict sometimes occurred.
Some bands were also living on the Baja California Peninsula (Hant Ihiin), they were called Hant Ihiini comcaac.
It has been said that these groups spoke three distinct but mutually intelligible dialects. It is thought that the first dialect was spoken by the Xiica hai iic coii, Xiica xnaai iic coii, Tahejöc comcaac and Heeno comcaac Bands and presently this variant is the only dialect spoken and is the ancestor of modern-day Seri. The second dialect was spoken by the Xnaamotat Band, but it is currently extinct and there was very little data collected regarding this dialect. The third dialect is also extinct and was spoken by the Xiica hast ano coii Band; it was described as sounding musical, as if speakers were singing instead of speaking (Moser 1963). Speakers sometimes make remarks regarding certain expressions being characteristic of particular Bands, especially of the Xiica hast ano coii Band. These communication differences were thought to have kept the groups from having much social interaction with each other.
After the Seri population was greatly reduced by conflicts with the Mexican government and the O'odham, and epidemics of smallpox and measles, the remaining Seris grouped together and the band divisions were lost.
The autoethnonym of the Seri people, Comcaac, was first recorded by United States Boundary Commissioner John Russell Bartlett, who was in the area for a short visit in early 1852.The word was included in the list of approximately 180 words that Bartlett archived in the Bureau of American Ethnology (now part of the National Anthropological Archive, housed at the Smithsonian). He recorded the word as "komkak", which reflected the pronunciation of the word at that time (although he missed the vowel length and did not indicate stress). Other word lists, obtained by other people during the last half of the nineteenth century, confirm that pronunciation. The phonetic rule by which the consonant /m/ is pronounced as a velar nasal in this context (after an unstressed vowel and preceding a velar consonant) may not have come about until sometime in the early twentieth century or researchers may have encountered slow-speech deliberate pronunciations for which the assimilation was held in abeyance. The singular form, Cmiique, was first recorded by French explorer and philologist Alphonse Pinart in 1879. He recorded the word as "kmike", which must have reflected the pronunciation of the word at that time (although he also missed the vowel length). The phonetic rule by which the consonant /m/ is pronounced as a nasalized velar approximant in this context (after a velar stop) may not have come about until sometime in the mid twentieth century.
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Fouquieria columnaris, the Boojum tree or cirio is a tree in the ocotillo family, whose other members include the ocotillos. It is nearly endemic to the Baja California Peninsula, with only a small population in the Sierra Bacha of Sonora, Mexico. The plant's English name, Boojum, was given by Godfrey Sykes of the Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona and is taken from Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark".
Hermosillo, formerly called Pitic, is a city located centrally in the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora. It is the capital and largest city as well as the main economic center for the state and region. As of 2015, the city has a population of 812,229 inhabitants, making it the 16th largest city in Mexico. The recent city population spur is due to its recent strong industrialization, especially in the automotive industry.
The Yaqui or Yoeme are an Uto-Aztecan speaking indigenous people of Mexico who inhabit the valley of the Río Yaqui in the Mexican state of Sonora and the Southwestern United States. They also have communities in Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is based in Tucson, Arizona. Yaqui people live elsewhere in the United States, especially California, Texas and Nevada.
Chuckwallas are large lizards found primarily in arid regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Some are found on coastal islands. The six species of chuckwallas are all placed within the genus Sauromalus; they are part of the iguanid family, Iguanidae.
Orion's Belt or the Belt of Orion, also known as the Three Kings or Three Sisters, is an asterism in the constellation Orion. It consists of the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.
San Esteban Island is a small island in the Gulf of California, Mexico, located to the southwest of Tiburón Island. It is part of the Municipality of Hermosillo in Sonora, and has a land area of 39.773 km², the 15th-largest island in Mexico. It is located in the Gulf of California. It was once inhabited by a group of the Seri people.
Edward W. Moser (1924–1976) was an American linguist and expert in the Seri language and culture working with the Summer institute of Linguistics.
El Desemboque is a town located 376 km from Hermosillo on the shore of Gulf of California in the Mexican state of Sonora; coordinates N 29° 30' 13", W 112° 23' 43". It is part of the Municipality of Pitiquito, and is one of two major villages on the Seri Indian communal property, the other being Punta Chueca. The Spanish name refers to the fact that the Río San Ignacio meets the sea near that point. The Seri name is literally where the clams lie. It has been a good location to find the small clams Protothaca grata (haxöl). According to the Mexican census of 2010, the town had a population of 287 inhabitants. (The town of El Desemboque described in the prior text is not located in the Pitiquito municipality of Sonora. It is a Seri village about 120 km north of Punta Chueca north of Bahia Kino where the dry Rio Ignacio meets the Gulf of California. The El Desemboque in Pitiquito is west of Caborca at the mouth of Rio Concepcion and is a small village catering to weekenders from Caborca. The Seri may have lived at the El Desemboque west of present day Caborca in prehistoric times before Spanish arrived as well as the current Seri town north of Bahia Kino. Their oral history has them living as far north as present day Puerto Penasco which was also an O'Odham settlement as well as present-day Bahia Kino and Isla Tiburon .)
Fouquieria is a genus of 11 species of desert plants, the sole genus in the family Fouquieriaceae. The genus includes the ocotillo and the boojum tree or cirio. They have semisucculent stems with thinner spikes projecting from them, with leaves on the bases spikes. They are unrelated to cacti and do not look much like them; their stems are proportionately thinner than cactus stems and their leaves are larger.
The San Esteban chuckwalla, also known as the piebald chuckwalla or pinto chuckwalla, is a species of chuckwalla belonging to the family Iguanidae endemic to San Esteban Island in the Gulf of California. It is the largest of the five species of chuckwallas and the most endangered.
Ctenosaura hemilopha, also known as the cape spinytail iguana , is a species of spinytail iguana endemic to Baja California. It is arboreal and primarily herbivorous, although it can be an opportunistic carnivore. Males may grow up to 100 centimeters (39 in) in length, while females are smaller, with a length of up to 70 centimeters (28 in). Five subspecies are currently recognized.
Mary Margaret Beck Moser was an American field linguist and Bible translator who worked on behalf of the Seri people of Mexico for more than fifty years. She authored and co-authored numerous articles and two books about the language and culture of that group and brought to completion the translation of the New Testament in the Seri language.
Charles Alexander Sheldon was an American conservationist and the "Father of Denali National Park". He had a special interest in the bighorn sheep and spent time hunting with the Seri Indians in Sonora, Mexico, who knew him as "Maricaana Caamla". Another favorite haunt was the lakes and rivers which later became Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia where Sheldon built a cabin at Beaverskin Lake.
The Yaqui Wars, were a series of armed conflicts between New Spain, and the later Mexican Republic, against the Yaqui Indians. 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.
The Tiburón Island Tragedy occurred in 1905 when three members of a small American gold prospecting expedition went missing in the Sonoran Desert near Tiburón Island. At the time, Tiburon was inhabited by the Seri natives, who were widely believed to have been responsible for the fate of the expedition. There were also Yaqui renegades active in the area and there were rumors about their involvement as well. However, the sole American survivor, Jack Hoffman, said that lack of water was most likely the cause. Of the five-man expedition, the leader, Thomas F. Grindell, and two of his associates disappeared while the other two men survived, including a Papago guide, who left the journey early on. A prolonged search for the missing men then commenced. Led by Edward P. Grindell, search parties uncovered several artifacts that had belonged to members of the expedition, as well as evidence of their fate, but no trace of the men themselves was found. It was not until over a year later that the remains of Thomas Grindell were discovered by another group of explorers. Evidence at the scene seemed to confirm that dehydration was the cause of death.