Government – The Council

This Council is a modern interpretation of the old ways.

The Opata Council consist of two bodies:

The Council of Peace (internal affairs)
-Preserve the language of the Opata people.

-Preserve the knowledge and understanding of our history.

-Rebuild our relationship with the land as farmers and healers.

-Rebuild our respect for the land, the water, and the air, understanding that we are in partnership for the preservation of the Opata people.

The Council of War (external affairs)
-Reestablish our legal standing both in the United States and in the Republic of Mexico.

-Represent the Opata people at gatherings with other tribal representatives.

-Uphold the image of the Opata people as perceived by others.

-Seek justice on behalf of the Opata Nation.

-Work to recover at least sites of importance to the Opatas.

The Council will appoint individuals to act as storytellers, artists, environmental protectors, representatives of the region, song keepers and innovators to further increase and disseminate the Opata culture. While members of the Opata Nation will strive to preserve and rebuild our culture, new ideas, innovations, and creativity will be given equal opportunity as long as it is for the service of the welfare of the Opata Nation.

The primary duties and responsibilities of the Council regardless of the body are:
-Guarantee the learning and preservation of our language.
-Promote full knowledge and understanding of our history.
-Build respect for all members of the Opata Nation, be they children, adults, or elders, with the understanding that each individual is a necessary part of the whole.

Universal Guidelines
The Opata Leadership is based on merit-service; Only those who have demonstrated their ability to plan and implement should be postulated and must be in the positions of leadership.

-The Opata leadership at any level must be conformed from those that are the most generous, honest, ethical, responsible, and brave between the Opata Nation.

-While there will be respect for all religious practices, the Council itself shall not be a religious body.

– While there will be respect for all political thoughts and perspectives, the Council itself shall not be a sided to a particular political party and should abstain from getting involved too much with any of the political parties, since it could interfere negatively in “the greater good of the community” in the present and future generations to come and at different grades and levels.

-The highest authority to which the council reports are the members of the Opata Nation.

-Any speaker on behalf of the Opata Nation must be approved by three members of the Council, and all the members of the Council must be debriefed in detail about such representation before this event takes place.

– This service to the Opata Nation is not about any kind of personal gain or need of attention, but all about the Opata community.

– Nobody from the Opata Council, neither from an elected position nor Opata should attempt in any way to create any sort of division in our community.

– The Opata leaders must understand and embrace the realities of this commitment and be a role model for the Opata community.

The Council Members

Ricardo Tanori

Ricardo Tanori

Council of PeACE

Ricardo established the Yahoo group “Opatas Unidos” in 2006, which some years later, it was transitioned to a Facebook group, “Opatería.” The purpose of this group is Eudeve(e-udev-e), Tegüima / Tehuima (tewima), and Jova(khova), collectively known as “Opatas,” the former biggest community of Indigenous Peoples of the Sonora region. One of the long-term goals is to revive the Tehuima and Dohema (Eudeve) languages and more of the Opata traditions.

Ricardo is from the Eudeve and Tehuima legacy, on behalf of his paternal grandmother (RIP) of Arizpe, Sonora. His paternal grandfather (RIP) was an Indigenous Tepehuano de Durango.

Ricardo traveled the Sonora region in the beginning in the nineties and had the opportunity to get to know some “Tatamandones” Eudeves elders who taught him some of the Opata traditions. They were not speakers of the Dohema language.

Armando Lawrence

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Armando Enrique Lawrence Jr. born in Los Angeles (Boyle Heights/East L.A.), California on August 20, 1953, to Armando R. Lawrence and Olivia Vargas Lawrence. I have been a Chicano – Indigenous Activist for over 40 years. My activist involvement began in late 1968 as my father, Armando Romo Lawrence, had played a strong role in supporting the 1968 East Los Angeles mass high school Walkouts or more popularly known as the “East L.A. Blowouts”. My father took me to Movimiento meetings that greatly influence me. My father had a keen sense of Social Justice since his childhood in his place of birth in Nacosari, Sonora, Mexico.

Since childhood, I was influenced by my parents recounting the origins of the ‘Mexican people’ with a strong connection to our native roots. Beyond “Azteca” my father talk of the other native nations in the area today called Mexico and clarified to me what was the original ancient “Mexico”. He also explained that from his lineage I am a descendant of the Opata tribe. My Abuela added to this identity by saying that our native ancestors used a variety of names such as Teguima, Tegui or Tehui. My Abuela’s grandparents were strong Opata leaders in Bacohuachi, Sonora. The family name being Arachiva.

I carried this strong sense of native identity which was not always looked upon favorably by other “Chicano Activist.” Being of mix race (my fathers’ father being a miner of English origins) also confused people as to my racial group, hence not easy to be involved at that time with the American Indian Movement. A Chicano Activist and mentor of mine help me to transition into the Native American Movement in the late 1970s, by joining up with an organization “Four Directions” which was founded and directed by Ernie Peters “Longwalkwer” (Lakota), and his wife (Chicana) Jessie Garcia “Warrior Women.”

My involvement included supporting Dine-Navajo grandmothers in Big Mountain, Sovereign Navajo Nation Reservation early 1982 to1986. I played a support role in bringing the Sacred Sundance ceremony to Big Mountain and participated in countless other native rights issues. I was sent as a delegate to the “First International Red Man’s conference” in Tripoli, Libya 1986. And again represented 4 Directions by leading a group of Indigenous/Chicano activist to Tripoli, Libya in 1989.

My involvement over the years has included being involved with some of the Peace & Dignity journeys events (since its origins) and being a lead co-host of the East Los Angeles Kapuli (chapter) in 2000. I have and continue to be a member (co-director) of LAIPA (Los Angeles Indigenous Peoples Alliance) since 1992.

In about 2004 or 2005 I discovered Qui Qui’s website Opata Tribe, joining it immediately whereas Qui Qui also referred me to Ricardo Tanori’s Indigenous Opatas Indigenous Peoples Alliance yahoo website. And of course, in time we found that we needed to regroup on Facebook a few years ago. While age is starting to catch up, and spent years taking care of my mom till she passed in late 2017, I have attempted to play a role in our Opata community especially on our Facebook page. I promoted to others on two occasions the need to physically group up and meet, which we finally did a few years ago in Tucson, Arizona. I also met Mike Everdell through my ceremonial nephew Tizoc and was able to connect Mike to our group bringing his Linguistic to expertize to our group.
Membership in:
-Opateria Facebook
-LAIPA (Los Angeles Indigenous People’s Alliance)
-National Compadres Network (promoting Tolteca Based Cultural Family Values, Member and sub-contractor).
-Catalyst Foundation – Sub Contractor in providing group presentation on “Healing Society program” to California State prisons Inmate population.

Dani Cornejo

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Dani Cornejo is a descendant of the Teguima Ópata people from the pueblo of Oposura (re-named Montezuma) in Sonora (Xu’unu’uta) Mexico on his mother’s side, and a Chilean descendent of the Picunche people from the pueblo of Lolol in the region of Colchagua, Chile on his father’s side. Both nations experienced an intense combination of missionization, assimilation, enslavement, and erasure so that current day decedents mostly identify with the Mexican and Chilean nation-state.

As a result, Dani is immersed in cultural and reclamation effort as a member of the youth council of the Ópata nation. Dani has been an educator since 2004 (teaching elementary school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students), obtained his MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University in 2010, and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Native American Studies at UC Davis. His Ph.D. work is focused on Indigenous holistic pedagogies in the service of urban Native people. He currently lives in East Oakland California with his wife and children.

Kathleen Alcalá

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Kathleen Alcalá is the great-granddaughter of Pastora Curiel, born in Rayón, Sonora, México. Born and raised in California, Kathleen is the author of six books, including the novel, The Flower in the Skull (Chronicle Books) based on the lives of her Opata great-grandmother and grandmother. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she teaches, reviews books, and continues to write.

“Alcalá’s life work has been an ongoing act of translation… She has been building prismatic bridges not just between the Mexican and American cultures, but also across divides of gender, generation, religion, and ethnicity.” —Seattle Times

She has a B.A. from Stanford, an M.A. from the University of Washington, and an M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans. She is also a graduate and one-time instructor of the Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop.

Cristina Murrieta

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Isabel Cristina Murrieta López an Opata born on June 20, 1954, in Nacori Chico, Sonora, Mexico, mother of 4 children and 13 grandchildren with the profession of Public Health Specialist with a Diploma in Teaching and Epidemiological Research, Chronicler, Poet and Cultural Promoter.

University Studies; School of Nursing of the IMSS affiliated National College of Technical Professional Education (CONALEP) and Specialty in Public Health at the University of Sinaloa, and Diploma in Teaching and Research.

Other studies; Diploma in Mexican Electoral Law at the University of Sonora, Cultural Diploma at the Universidad del Noroeste, Autobiography at the Department of Letters and Linguistics of the University of Sonora, Different Diplomas, Courses and Workshops on Literature, Music, Painting and Rescue, Conservation and Dissemination of Historical and Cultural Heritage in Hermosillo, Sonora and the Federal District of Mexico, as well as Continuous Training in the Workplace.

Certification as mediator of reading rooms, by the Metropolitan University of the Federal District, in agreement with CONACULTA.

Cristina from very young was involved in community activities in her town in addition to supporting her mother since age 8 in the activities necessary to earn a living and also, to help her and avoid fatigue and in the Ranch, she escaped to talk with the group of indigenous people north of the river.

When she left Primary School, and only with the support of her mother, she emigrated to the city with the Solidarity Group LOS AMIGOS, with whom she began her studies and soon after, she developed different jobs, including maid to study high school. She married very young and went to work at the IMSS, also very young, without forgetting about his mother and sisters. Her rebelliousness and knowing the Collective Labor Agreement, made her colleagues apply for Delegate to the Trade Union Congress, becoming Trade Union Representative almost immediately and since then, her social commitment with marginalized groups has been part of her life. Her political participation in the State occurred precisely as a result of her Union and Cultural work. In the Union, she had the responsibility of Social Security, also Social Security, as well as applying the Housing Credits and others for the workers and organizing cultural events for the different categories of workers, as well as for their children.

In the struggle for democracy and syndical-union freedom, she was on the verge of being overwhelmed by the bus of her national leader. He was part of the National Indigenous movement and founded in Sonora the Peasant and Popular Indigenous Front, for whose participation she was harassed and persecuted at work. She supported movements of Working Women in Latin America, participated in the activities coordinated by CEMPROS and the University Workers. She founded and was part of the Workers’ Movement in Mexico, joining the UNT and was the representative of the SNTSS. She was the founder of the Independent Trade Union Front of Sonora, as well as the Broad Front of Social Organizations.

In the union fight that lasted almost a year with collective faults, staggered stoppages, night guards, blockades of administrative offices, mass marches, press conferences, integration of other unions, coordination with groups of workers from other institutions and companies, as well as Universities, unions of workers affiliated to the IMSS such as the CTM, TELMEX, FORD, AIRPORTS, SUTSPES, maquilas, etc. She was harassed by pressure to sell the labor movement. She was punished and accumulated more than a dozen Legal Acts for labor disobedience. She worked 10 years as an eventual.

In the fight for the Democratic transition in Mexico, she was beaten on different occasions and was detained in the police separations along with a large group of supporters who supported the seizure of the State Steering Committee of the Party. It even reached the police separations for getting involved in the partisan democratic struggle and for defending the workers of the Maquilas, especially Women.

She coordinated different political jobs at the national level, always with the latent threat of blows, kidnapping, taking of offices, seedlings, which on many occasions put her life at risk, however, it was always a factor of unity and conflict resolution, what she came to occupy the Undersecretary of Organization of the National Executive Committee of the PRD.

She has supported the World Movements in favor of Peace and her active participation, is evident in the different Social Networks, in the Public Posts, in the Journalistic Notes on the matter, in the Chat as a Candidate and in her Legislative Proposals, as well as different interviews, videos, signatures of displays, Decrees, Manifestos and for the permanent participation in cultural activities tending to strengthen the identity movements and the struggle for Peace in the world.

Her work of support and defense of the Ethnic Groups of the State of Sonora is evident when she accomplished the integration into the State Congress for the first time of the Permanent Commission on Indigenous Affairs, and Human Rights. As well as presented the Initiative Law to form the Sonoran Institute for Women. (Made by dozens of women who fought to achieve it).

She was a promoter and member of the Women’s Parliament in Mexico, and her presence was integrated into all Mexican states. She is the first Nurse to be elected and who also promoted and presented the Law Proposal for the Professionalization of Nursing, which earned her the Recognition of the National College of Nursing and is the Nurse of the year in the UMF 37 of the IMSS.

Her Cultural work is recognized by locals and foreigners, since for years she supported Jef Durango, in the organization of the Hispano-American Encounter of Writers Hours of June, having as guests José Emilio Pacheco, Ernesto Cardenal who met with Sub Comandante Marcos in Hermosillo to talk about the struggle of the indigenous people and the search for justice. She also invited Paco Ignacio Taibo II, who presented his research on the real life of Pancho Villa.

She elaborated and presented the proposal to form the Hispano-American Parliament of Writers, endorsed by more than 240 writers present and more than 2800 writers of the world who sent their adhesion. When she retired from the “Hours of June” she promoted, and through the “Hía Tehuikatzi” Cultural Collective, she held the PRIMAVERA DE PALABRAS Meeting, whose priority was the LETTERS FOR PEACE.

In the search for Public Policies and Support Programs, she made different arrangements before the Legislative Bodies in the State and in the Federal District, having presented the poet Luis Arias Manzo, General Secretary of Poets of the World, before the Presidency of the Senate of the Republic Mexican in search of spaces to promote public policies of benefit for the Cultural Community and the commitment of the political actors in the Legislative seats to build bonds of friendship and peace with the Peoples of the World.

Through the International Society of Poets, Writers and Artists (SIPEA), coordinated and directed by Dr. In Literature, Manuel Salvador Leyva Martínez, who is a Teacher and advisor to the cultural group she coordinates in Sonora with the Poet Carlos Martín Valenzuela Quintanar and with them has participated in different social networks, movements and cultural and literary events, building bonds of friendship between the participants and their peoples. She has participated and conducted the radio programs El Rincón Bohemio by Miguel Ángel Bonillas in the XEDL and the Hía Tehuikatzi program in Radio Capital, accompanied by Carlos Martín Valenzuela. Participates in the Danny Sinohui News with cultural and political comments on the XEHQ. She has also participated in Radio Sonora, Radio Universidad, Radio Bemba and the regional radio stations of Agua Prieta, Caborca, San Luis Rio Colorado, Cananea and Ures, Sonora, as well as participation in radio stations in Argentina, Peru, and Spain.

As Ambassador of Poets of the World for Peace, she has integrated and participated in the Marches for Justice in Hermosillo and in the World March for Peace, which has been held several times and in different parts of Mexico. She has raised the demands of the indigenous Mexicans and has been the voice in the different spaces where it has been possible. Their lyrics by migrants, by women, by Latinos are an example.

She signed and constantly promotes the Manifesto of the Poets of the World for Peace, the Communal Manifesto of Santanderean poets in Colombia, the Decalogue of SIPEA, the Identity Commitment of the Hía Tehuikatzi Cultural Collective and its Commitment to Peace and Culture and promotes the ancestral Opata de la Amistad Festivity: The “Dagüinemaca”, which year after year endorses the bonds of friendship with people, with peoples and with the world.

As Cultural Promoter, she founded and coordinates the CULTURAL GROUP HÍA TEHUIKATZI (Divine Voice in Ópata language) her constant work for the rescue, conservation and dissemination of customs, language, music, dances and other identity elements about the Opata ethnic group, (from the which is proudly assumed) have been supported by the support provided by the Yoreme (mayo) and Yoeme (yaqui) Indians of southern Sonora and the Tohono O’odham (Papagos) and Yoreme women of Sonora. Her cultural work, rescue, and strengthening of the Sonoran, ethnic and gender identity have been recognized by Universities, Government Organizations, Civil Associations and by people from Sonora society in all areas. Isabel Cristina is a Sonoran woman, proud of her origin, her land, her people, her country, and her essence as a human being. His Project “ZÁTACHY: In the footsteps of the past,” is an example of the effort to identify, locate, rescue, conserve, preserve and spread the tangible and intangible legacy of the Opateria and the Sonoran Sierra.

Cristina is a Chronicler committed to her people and in constant diffusion of living history, true history, daily history, but also with research and dissemination of the history of the past, rescuing what is useful for the present, especially that which strengthens and unify the peoples and the world. A writer of the chronicles of rural life, of the mountains, of the ethnic groups. In them, it reflects the reality that others do not see. With them, it awakens the conscience of those who, blinded by technological progress, by “progress” and by “civilization,” have forgotten those who still live in the oblivion of the authorities and the businessmen, of the professionals and the politicians.

A Poet, whose words of love, peace, demand for justice and public denunciation is the voice of those who are not heard, of those who do not know how to expose their demands and their cries for help. It is the word that resists wounds and also the one that whips injustices. Cristina, is the whip of the unprotected, against the abuses of those who hold economic and political power. Against the shameless who take advantage of the good faith and the will of those who have less.

A rebellious indigenous girl, a mountain woman, a student, a professional, a mother, a friend who believes that the most beautiful feelings are friendship and love. And with both responds to who manages to integrate among its most expensive and endearing human beings with those who make up their personal world and that extends to the world in general.

Martin Elias Ortega

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I was born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, on November 12, 1965, on Pierson Street, No. 149, right in the middle of one of the many hills that exist in my city. My father named Julio Cesar Ortega Espinoza met my mother in this city of Nogales, and here they formed our family. My ancestry Hoi-ra-ua (Ópatas-Tehuima) is my father, son of “Encarnación” Ortega who was born on a ranch near Cumupas (Cumpas) Sonora, the memories that I still have of the grandfather is what people called him the tall and strong Indian, he was an Opata that, like many of us, left his life working in the mines of the region, first in the mine “el Tigre” very close to Cumupas, and then in the mine of the “Buena Vista” of copper in Cananea, the city where my father was born. My childhood was normal, I played with friends all the games of those times, however, I knew that there was something different in me, first because the childhood friends who were so kind to each other were considered brothers, we must also say it sometimes they were very cruel too, and the nickname of a filthy Indian pierced my heart and made me suffer. And second because of that immense love that my father taught me by nature and his love for the creator, in such a way that it was conditioning to give us our “Sunday” to attend the religious services of the temples of the city.

From the hand of my father I knew the stories of my ancestors, I learned to hide my identity as they did. We spoke in a low voice of the native ancestry, and we were warned by the elders when we committed an indiscretion. We should not talk about this, it was bad, it was dangerous, and there was nothing good to mention it.

My father took me to the “Counties” Yaquis and told me, these “counties” are very different from ours, but there is no way to do them, the ones we did were much better since we walked along the highlands of the grandparents, the presence of “tatita” God was felt and in the nights by the fire and with the dances life was happier and lasted until dawn, we ate deer, rabbits, and coyotas.

I witnessed a deer dance by my relatives on a ranch near Opodepe, Sonora. The almost naked dancer covered with deerskin and only the horns on his head danced in a very different way from the Yoreme and the Yoeme, rather than hit the earth he caressed it and while he was spinning around the fire he would jump across it, when he performed this jump we all shouted, I do not remember the word that was repeated, I forgot it, and no one else remembers it. When the dancer finished it did not rise from the ground, the water that was in the bowls, a part was poured into the body of the dancer, and the other was used to put out the fire, once this was performed the elders raised the dancer who let himself be led outside the circle. All the children greeted the dancer who was very respected by all, after this, dinner was served and the bacanora, tequila, and beers were passed.

My father taught me to hug grandparents trees, to turn to the sun with closed eyes, let the tatita caress you until you see all red, he taught me to look for hours at the moon; she, she told me, is the girlfriend of tatita sol, and it is water, while you love her she will not let you die of thirst ever.

My father taught me to fear lightning, and to snakes, he told me that chureas are evil and that owls are wise.

You are a Tehuima told me, take care of your inheritance, do not hide anymore …

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Data are not available at this time.

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Data are not available at this time.

Edgar Garcia

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Edgar Garcia is currently a Senior Support Engineer in a private sector; here, he provides complex IT support for customers around the world. Originally from Sonora, Mexico, Edgar received his bachelor’s degree in Engineering in Computer Security from the TecMilenio University. As a senior, he started working in the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. in 2010 (fifth job at 22 years old), where he worked as the IT support and Assistant to the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) where he gained a better perspective of the Abya Yalla, Pacha Mama, and Turtle Island under the different Country members in the geopolitical level.

Since childhood, he was influenced by his grandparents and people from Nacori Chico, by their accounts of the origins of the ‘Sonoran people’ with a connection to the native roots, the “Opatas,” in the mountains of the current state of Sonora. As he grew up, he became more curious about his roots, and upon connecting with the elders and other Opatas back 2010, 2013, 2016, this increased Edgar’s motivation to preserve and protect the culture. With the experiences and knowledge acquired in the last decade, the vision of rebuilding the nation has become possible regardless of the obstacles that have arisen, and even when in most cases, there are not enough resources or nothing at all.

He believes that the revitalization of culture can be achieved with strategy, teamwork, and organization at all levels where possible; therefore, it is crucial to standardize and improve educational opportunities and tools, as well as nutrition and quality of sustainable living within the members of the Opata Nation.

Edgar has gained the strength and motivation to continue working, thanks to the response that has been had from the Opata community that is currently connected, so he has been trying to invest as much time as possible and thus to complete the different tasks that are they have needed and are required to achieve a stable and solid base for the Opata culture. He is determined to continue this vital work until his last breath because “every second counts”, and the lost time will never return.

He hopes to be an example for other young Opata because the Opata Nation will need a lot of hours of teamwork, education, and unity to succeed and maintain the progress sought in each of the proposed objectives.