Throughout their history, they remained separate from the Aztec and Toltec empires. They were similarly never conquered by the Spanish, defeating successive expeditions ofconquistadores in battle. However, they were successfully converted to Christianity by the Jesuits, who convinced them to settle into eight towns: Pótam, Vícam, Tórim, Bácum, Cóorit, Huirivis, Belem, andRahum.
For many years, the Yaqui lived peacefully in a relationship with the Jesuit missionaries. This resulted in considerable mutual advantage: the Yaqui were able to develop a very productiveeconomy, and the missionaries were able to employ the wealth created to extend their missionary activities further north. In the 1730s the colonial Mexican government began to alter this relationship, andeventually ordered all Jesuits out of Sonora. This created considerable unrest amongst the Yaqui and led to several rebellions. Further, the Franciscan priests never arrived to be their religiousleaders, leaving the Yaqui with no western religious ties.
The Yaqui attempted to form an independent nation separate from Mexico in the 1820s, under the Yaqui leader Juan Banderas (executed 1833) whowished to unite the Mayo, Opata, and Pima tribes, but the effort failed and the Yaqui remained within the scope of Mexican legal authority.
The nation suffered a succession of brutalities by theMexican authorities, including a notable massacre in 1868 where 150 Yaqui were burned to death by the army inside a church.
Another prominent (and failed) effort to win independence was led by the Yaquileader Cajemé. Following this war, the Yaqui were subjected to further brutality under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, who implemented a policy of ethnic transfer, in order to remove the Yaqui from Sonoraso that he could encourage immigration from Europe and the United States. The government transferred tens of thousands of Yaqui from Sonora to the Yucatán peninsula, where they were sold as slaves...