Keeping the Penjamo Yaqui Tribe’s culture and its traditions alive in the midst of Scottsdale’s development and city influences has been difficult for the remaining families.
The Penjamo Yaqui Tribe is a branch off of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, which is located in Guadalupe. Although they’re the same tribe with the same ceremonies and beliefs, the Scottsdale branch calls themselves Penjamo Yaquis because that is the name of the area where they live. The tribe is located in a community around 77th Street and Hayden Road.
Over the years, it has been very difficult for the Penjamo Yaquis to keep close to their traditions within their culture. The tribe’s numbers continue to diminish slowly, with the area starting out with over 25 homes filled with Yaquis more than 20 years ago has only 12 homes filled today.
Born and raised a Penjamo Yaqui, Gabriella Alvarez currently lives in Phoenix but still visits her roots frequently back in the small Penjamo community. She has tried to stay as close to the tribe’s traditional practices and beliefs as possible.
“It’s been very hard to watch our community decrease in Penjamo,” said Alvarez, “It’s become more difficult for the families to afford living in Scottsdale so they were forced to move into newer and bigger homes elsewhere to provide for their family.”
The Yaquis have always had a very strong voice to represent their beliefs, culture, and needs; she was known as Mrs. Young. Mrs. Young always fought for the needs of the Yaqui people and she had contacts all around Scottsdale. She was a main reason why the Yaqui people in Penjamo still had some of their culture preserved. She made sure the children were educated in the language and culture by having them take classes in the Vista Del Camino Park and Community Center in Penjamo. There were other classes provided to the Penjamo community as well, such as the teen center, cooking classes both for adults and children, and allowing the Yaquis to utilize Vista Del Camino’s services or facilities for whatever needs of the Penjamo Community.