David Yetman – “The Ópatas. Who they were and what became of them”

Jan ’12
7:30 pm

In 1600 they were the largest, most technologically advanced indigenous group in northwest Mexico, but today, though their descendants presumably live on in Sonora, almost no one claims descent from the Ópatas. The Ópatas seem to have “disappeared” as an ethnic group, their languages forgotten except for the names of the towns, plants, and geography of the Opatería, where they lived. Why did the Ópatas disappear from the historical record while their less numerous neighbors survived?

David Yetman, who has spent much of the last five decades among indigenous peoples of Sonora, consulted more than two hundred archival sources to answer this question. Yetman’s account takes us through the Opatans’ initial encounters with the conquistadors, their resettlement in Jesuit missions, clashes with Apaches, their recruitment as miners, and several failed rebellions, and ultimately arrives at an explanation for their “disappearance.”

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