In North America, our people took the surname or were asked to have surnames at different times in what is now the country Mexico or USA. UU. There is no pattern. In places with early contact, such as in the current Sonora-Arizona region, the man took the names “English” or “French” or “Spanish.” Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Opatas did not have surnames as such, but like many other Indigenous Nations they identified themselves by mentioning the town, family or lineage of a father recognized in the region or event.
It is important to mention that, in other places, people took a “white” name and maintained a native language name for personal use. In other places people used a clan name. Some places tried to write the name in Latin letters or how an English speaker could say it. Currently, all of you who have been investigating our ancestors will already know that the Opata surnames that have persisted is because they come to your father’s side.
For those of us who are Opata but have no last name Opata, it is very likely that our ancestor Opata was a woman and her last name disappeared in the lineage after her children; on the other hand in the United States (unless the couple wishes otherwise or keep both surnames) the woman’s last names disappear upon marriage.
It is also important to consider that there are many surnames that we often think are Opata but in reality they are Apache, Yoreme (Mayo), Yoeme (Yaqui), Tohono O’odham (Papago), Macurawe (Guarijío), Akimel O’odham (Pima Alto), Pima Bajo, Tepehuano, etc. At the same time, some Opatas got to marry some of our brothers of the Indigenous Nations of the region and these families sometimes registered their children as part of another Nation instead of as Opatas and vice versa. Also, due to the different Historical events in the region where they lived or moved to a better life, it is possible that it was more convenient to identify as another Nation instead of the Opata Nation.
If your last name is on the following list, we hope you feel proud of it and want to recover, practice and defend your culture:
Google Sheet with the Usteguat Opata
-Usteguat: Last name.