Yaqui (yäˈ kē) [key], people of Sonora, Mexico, settled principally along the Yaqui river. Their language is of Uto-Aztecan stock. They engage in weaving and agriculture; many work in the cotton regions of Sonora and S Arizona. The Yaqui have proved to be warlike and have opposed encroachments on their lands. In the late 19th cent. under the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz they were ruthlessly persecuted and many were deported to plantations at Yucatán and Quintana Roo, over 2,000 mi (3,200 km) away. Some escaped and returned on foot to Sonora. The Mexican government attempted to control resistance by further resettlement, and many Yaqui emigrated to Arizona to escape subjugation. Later, efforts were made to improve their lot. There are about 10,000 Yaqui today in the United States and at least an equal number in Mexico.
See E. H. Spicer, Potam, a Yaqui Village in Sonora (1954); R. W. Giddings, Yaqui Myths and Legends (1959); R. Moisés, The Tall Candle (1971).