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Seri family of Sonora Mexico


Until the last few decades few people outside of Sonora, Mexico, knew that the Seri Indians existed.  Most non-Indians largely ignored them.  Nearby ranchers mistrusted, feared, and fought them, and foreigner visitors seldom encountered them because of the tribe’s isolation in Mexico.  Nevertheless, a few scholars have lived with the Seri for various lengths of time and studied the tribe.  The photo from Bernice Johnson’s study of the Seri Indians was published by the University of Arizona and later posted with her research online.  Thanks to the few ethnographers such as Bernice, the outside world knows a little about these people.  The Seri have survived in Sonora Mexico for hundreds of years, adapting out of necessity to surrounding Mexican society but retaining the core values of their culture.  On the east coast of the Sea of Cortes, across from Tiburon Island, seven hundred Seris still survive as fisherman and artists.  They are actually semi-nomadic, constantly on the move between the settlements of Punta Chueca, Desemboque, and seasonal fishing camps up and down the coast.  The Seri cross the desert by pickup truck and the sea by outboard motorboats.   Roaring off every morning in their boats, the men cast their nets in the waters off Tiburon Island, selling their catch to Mexican fish merchants.  Back at home Seri women weave their famed baskets.  Men and women hand carve sea and desert animals from the native ironwood tree.  The Seris hustle and sell baskets and woodcarvings to the few American and Mexican tourists visiting them in Kino Bay, and to commercial traders who visit their villages.  Before being sold, the 4 x 10 inch basket exhibited below was, unlike the commercially created baskets sold in shops, still in use by the local Seri culture.