by Ernest Hogan
I consider the Yaquis to be family. My grandfather was a Yaqui – well, actually he was my mom's stepfather, but we didn't make those kind of distinctions in our large, extended Chicano familia. Identity can be such a bitch. So I'm a Chichimec, but the influence of that Yaqui warrior on me is monumental.
I've always been frustrated by how difficult it was to find information about the Yaquis. In most accessible culture, the dubious books of Carlos Castaneda dominate, but I'm been told by Yaquis I've met that they're not accurate, and Castaneda's "New Age" activities later in life backed that up. The Yaquis we bought my wife's wedding dress from in Guadalupe, Arizona, were nice enough, but why were they such badasses in the movie Two Mules for Sister Sara (in which Clint Eastwood plays a guy named Hogan)? Hollywood thought Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch made believable Yaqui revolutionaries in 100 Rifles. And why were they trying to overthrow the Mexican government in the old serial Zorro's Fighting Legion?
Recently, I ran across a documentary by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, creator of the detective Hector Belacoarán Shayne, author of more fiction and nonfiction than I can keep up with. The Yaquis is part of Los Nuestros, a series he's doing for the Venezuelan network teleSUR. The missing Yaqui history is revealed.
The Yaquis tells the history that isn't told in Mexican classrooms: The story of Mexico's longest armed struggle that is echoed in the contemporary struggle for the waters of the Yaqui River, a struggle that could wipe the people and the river out of existence.
It's a story that's happened before, and is still happening, all over Aztlán. Ruins, ancient and modern, are usually found next to dead rivers. Towns, peoples, civilizations can die. It's a problem that will require very real politics, and more science than fiction to solve.
Meanwhile, here's the documentary:
Ernest Hogan's novel Cortez on Jupiter, “introduced the subgenre of Chicano SF to a startled, dazzled American audience,” according to Publishers Weekly.