Cucapa means “people of the water” or “people of the river” because they live on the banks of the Colorado River in northwestern Sonora. Yumans are an ethnolinguistic family composed of 15 ethnic groups from the deserts of Baja, California, Sonora, Arizona, and California in the United States. The group has characteristics that denominate them as a binational ethnic group.
They have settlements in three different locations: One in Pozas de Arvizu, in Sonora, El Mayor and Cucapa Mestizo, in Mexicali and the Somertones, in Arizona, United States. The Cucapa are approximately six millennia old and are an almost extinct ethnic group in Sonora.
It is not only the name of this ethnic group; it is also the name of their language. This language is part of the Yumano-Cochimí family, and those who speak this language today are older people. But unfortunately, young people’s preference for Spanish leads to the language disappearing very soon.
Cucapa Traditions and Religious Beliefs
The Cucapa beliefs revolve around nature since they believed Sipa and Komat, two sister deities, created the universe, man, and plants. In honor of these, they created figures of baked mud. Locals use these figures when someone dies, and the figure burns with their belongings and their home.
The new generations practice Catholicism, so now they have new celebrations such as Easter or Resurrection Sunday.
They used to make necklaces and bracelets with bones, clay, or wood as materials in the past. In addition, locals used clay for plates, vessels, and cups. Although these crafts were lost over time due to the lack of materials, other materials such as plastic and acrylic replaced them. Even so, they still maintain the handcrafted designs.
The Cucapa people are a small town with a history and mythology worth knowing and preserving.
If you liked this article, you might be interested in: