Series: Native Peoples of the Sonoran Desert

Who were the original inhabitants of the Sonoran desert and how did they adapt to the world-changing arrival of Spanish colonists?

  • Article 1: Native Peoples of the Sonoran Desert: The O'odham

    group photo of O'odham people standing in front of mission church

    The O'odham people (also known as the Pima) occupied a region spanning hundreds of square miles of what is now Arizona and Sonora. Read more

  • Tumac├ícori National Historical Park

    Article 2: Native Peoples of the Sonoran Desert: The Yoeme

    leaping deer dancer with gourds, face covering, ankle rattles

    The Yoeme (Yaqui) originated in southern Sonora near the Yaqui River. They traveled widely and probably came to the Santa Cruz Valley well before the arrival of the Spaniards. With the arrival of the Spanish, however, the Yaqui recognized opportunities to work as freighters, cowboys, and miners and came to this area in large numbers. They were often placed in positions of leadership within mission communities. Read more

  • Article 3: Native Peoples of the Sonoran Desert: The Nde

    four dancers, painted white, with black face-coverings, dance in front of a crowd

    The Apache (Inde) people came from as far north as Canada. They split into groups and settled across the American southwest. Although frequently cast as villains due to their historically antagonistic relationship with Spanish and American settlements, Apache people have a rich and varied cultural tradition. Read more