Yaqui River

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Yaqui River - Sonora, Mexico Yaqui River.jpg
Yaqui River - Sonora, Mexico

The Yaqui River (Río Yaqui in Spanish) (Hiak Vatwe in the Yaqui or Yoeme language) is a river in the state of Sonora in northwestern Mexico. It was formerly known as the Rio del Norte. [1] Being the largest river system in the state of Sonora, the Yaqui river is used for irrigation, especially in the Valle del Yaqui.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian, is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

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.

River Natural flowing watercourse

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to using names such as stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for the generic term river as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream is defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.


The Rio Yaqui originates in the Sierra Madre Occidental at the junction of the Rio Bavispe and the Rio Aros at Lat. 29.529887 Long. -109.228377. It is approximately 320 km (200 mi) in length, and flows south and southwest into the Gulf of California near the city of Obregon.

Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range

The Sierra Madre Occidental is a major mountain range system of the North American Cordillera, that runs northwest–southeast through northwestern and western Mexico, and along the Gulf of California. The Sierra Madre is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western 'backbone' of North America, Central America, South America and West Antarctica.

Gulf of California A gulf of the Pacific Ocean on the coast of Mexico between Baja California and the mainland

The Gulf of California is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa with a coastline of approximately 4,000 km (2,500 mi). Rivers which flow into the Gulf of California include the Colorado, Fuerte, Mayo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and the Yaqui. The gulf's surface area is about 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi). Depth soundings in the gulf have ranged from fording depth at the estuary near Yuma, Arizona, to in excess of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) in the deepest parts.

Ciudad Obregón City in Sonora, Mexico

Ciudad Obregón is the second largest city in the northern Mexican state of Sonora and named for Sonoran revolutionary general and president of Mexico, Álvaro Obregón. It is situated 525 km (326 mi) south of the state's northern border with the U.S. state of Arizona. It is also the municipal seat of Cajeme municipality, located in the Yaqui Valley.

Its course is interrupted by several reservoirs like Plutarco Elías Calles (El Novillo), Lázaro Cárdenas (Angostura), or Álvaro Obregón (El Oviáchic, Lake Ouiachic), which provides the water resource for the intensively irrigated region of Ciudad Obregón.

Lake Novillo is a man-made lake in Sonora, Mexico, near the city of San Pedro de la Cueva. More formally known as "Plutarco Elias Calles Reservoir", it is located on the Yaqui River. The dam was placed into operation on November 14, 1964. It provides water for irrigation and can generate 135,000 kilowatts of electricity. The reservoir contains 2,925 million cubic metres of water.

Human history

The Esperanza Stone. Found by Major Frederick Russell Burnham in the Yaqui Valley in 1908. Burnham left; Holder, right Esperanza stone 1909.JPG
The Esperanza Stone. Found by Major Frederick Russell Burnham in the Yaqui Valley in 1908. Burnham left; Holder, right

As early as the 6th century AD, native inhabitants known as the Yoem Vatwe or Yaqui were living in family groups along the Rio Yaqui. The Yaqui used simple irrigation techniques to cultivate corn, beans, and squash while also hunting local game and gathering wild foods from the area. Yaquis traded native foods, furs, shells, salt, and other goods with many indigenous groups of central North America. The Yaquis lived more or less independently until the late 19th century, when many of them were driven from their lands surrounding the Rio Yaqui by the Mexican Army and forced to flee to more remote areas. Many Yaquis left the Rio Yaqui area to fight in the Vakatetteve Mountains, while others relocated to Yaqui communities in Arizona. By the late 1880s, warfare with the Mexican Army had killed off many members of the Yaqui tribe, so that only 4,000 Yaquis remained in the Rio Yaqui area.

In the early 20th century, after a series of conflicts with the Mexican Army, many of the remaining Yaqui were arrested and dispersed to plantations in the Yucatán Peninsula. The survivors continued resisting until the late 1920s, when Mexican authorities overcame resistance by employing heavy artillery and aircraft to bomb and shell Yaqui villages.

Yucatán Peninsula peninsula in North America

The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel. The peninsula lies east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a northwestern geographic partition separating the region of Central America from the rest of North America. It is approximately 181,000 km2 (70,000 sq mi) in area, and is almost entirely composed of limestone.

Also in the early 20th century, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, a celebrated American scout, went to Mexico in search of mineral resources. While there he met the naturalist Dr. Charles Frederick Holder and the two men soon became associated with the early Yaqui River irrigation project. Burnham reasoned that a dam could provide year-round water to rich alluvial soil in the valley; turning the region into one of the garden spots of the world and generate much needed electricity. He purchased water rights and some 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land in this region and contacted an old friend from Africa, John Hays Hammond, who conducted his own studies and then purchased an additional 900,000 acres (3,600 km2) of this land—an area the size of Rhode Island. He became a close business associate of Hammond and led a team of 500 men in guarding mining properties owned by Hammond, J.P. Morgan, and the Guggenheims in the state of Sonora. [2] Just as the irrigation and mining projects were nearing completion in 1912, the onset of the Mexican Revolution frustrated their plans. The final blow to these efforts came in 1917 when Mexico passed laws prohibiting the sale of land to foreigners. Burnham and Hammond carried their properties until 1930 and then sold them to the Mexican government. [3] In his case study of Burnham's American colonization scheme, Professor Bradford concluded: "a combination of Indian problems, the intricacies of the developing Mexican revolutionary process, and a less than clear-cut mandate from Washington, DC, served to bring the colony down." [4]

Frederick Russell Burnham father of scouting; military scout; soldier of fortune; oil man; writer; rancher

Frederick Russell Burnham DSO was an American scout and world-traveling adventurer. He is known for his service to the British South Africa Company and to the British Army in colonial Africa, and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell in Rhodesia. He helped inspire the founding of the international Scouting Movement.

Charles Frederick Holder American naturalist, author, and fisherman

Charles Frederick Holder (1851–1915) was an American naturalist, conservationist, and writer who produced over 40 books and thousands of articles. Known as a pioneer of big-game fishing, he founded and led the Tuna Club of Avalon, credited as the first game fishing organization. He was socially active in Pasadena, California, where he was a trustee of Throop College and co-founder of the Tournament of Roses.

John Hays Hammond American businessman

John Hays Hammond was a mining engineer, diplomat, and philanthropist. Known as the man with the Midas touch, he amassed a sizable fortune before the age of 40. An early advocate of deep mining, Hammond was given complete charge of Cecil Rhodes' mines in South Africa and made each undertaking a financial success. But after the dismal failure of the Jameson Raid, Hammond, along with the other leaders of the Johannesburg Reform Committee, was arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. The Reform Committee leaders were released after paying large fines, but like many of the leaders, Hammond left Africa for good. He returned to the United States, became a close friend of President William Howard Taft, and was appointed a special United States Ambassador. At the same time, he continued to develop mines in Mexico and California and, in 1923, he made another fortune while drilling for oil with the Burnham Exploration Company. His son, John Hays Hammond, Jr., patented over 400 inventions, and is widely regarded as the father of radio control.

Burnham, together with Holder, made archeological discoveries of what he believed to be remnants of Maya civilization in the region, including the Esperanza Stone. [5] [6] In his book, The Book of the Damned , Charles Forte would use this stone as proof that aliens from outer space had been on Earth. The supernatural nature of this stone would be perpetuated by many other authors in several subsequent books on anomalistics.


The Rio Yaqui was once home to the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and represented one of the northernmost natural locations for the species. Decades of environmental degradation in the region led to the extirpation of the species from the region. [7] This was nearly the southern extent for the Mexican grizzly bear.

The Mexican native trout or Yaqui trout and 34 other species of fish remains. [8]

See also

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Coordinates: 27°40′02″N110°36′43″W / 27.6673°N 110.6120°W / 27.6673; -110.6120