Accepted Paper:

Being recognized as indigenous people in the contemporary US: analysis of the Texas Yaquis' petition for state recognition in 2013  


Yuka Mizutani (Sophia University)

Paper short abstract:

I explain the process of the Texas Yaquis’ petition for state recognition in order to discuss the social and political meaning of being recognized in the contemporary US.

Paper long abstract:

In fall 2013, a non-profit organization representing the Yaquis mainly in the state of Texas, U.S., sent documents to the state governor, hoping to be recognized as an indigenous group of Texas. The Yaquis are an indigenous people of Uto-Aztecan language family, who have lived in an area covering what is currently northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. The estimated population of the Yaquis in Mexico is 30,000. In the U.S., 17,000 individuals are registered with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, a federally recognized indigenous tribe. In addition to these people, several hundred people self-identify themselves as Yaquis. On the U.S. side, those in the state of Arizona were federally recognized in 1978 as the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. However, the majority of the Yaquis outside Arizona have been excluded from enrollment in the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Therefore, the Texas Yaquis' petition for state recognition is a significant milestone in Yaqui history. Although the Texas Yaquis have received much criticism, many people also support them for various reasons. In this paper, I explain (1) how this movement for the recognition of the Texas Yaquis developed, (2) how the local people reacted to this movement, and (3) which indigenous and non-indigenous groups or individuals would be affected by this movement. Through examining these points, I will discuss the social and political meaning of being recognized by the state or the federal government as an indigenous group in the contemporary U.S.

Panel P077
On being "indigenous peoples": connecting local practices with global context