From Jose Matus, Yaqui, director, Indigenous Alliance without Borders
RED ALERT! - Yaqui Traditional Healers from Rio Yaqui Sonora, Mexico and Pascua Yaqui Staff were verbally abused and mistreated in a rrestaurant in Tumacacori, Arizona.
I am sharing this unfortunate incident with all of you to make you aware of the mistreatment of our Yaqui Women in Tumacacori. I will be meeting with the staff person that reported this incident to the Alianza Indigena to further document and take action action against this establishment.
Be aware you people of Color don't eat in Tumacacori!
Jose R. Matus, Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras
Racial Profiling and Verbal Abuse of our Tribal People in Tumacacori
By Amalia Reyes
Good Afternoon Everyone,
I want to share with you an event that took place yesterday in Tumacacori around 6:00 p.m or so, where our tribal people, three who were from Rio Yaqui were yelled at and called “dumb Mexicans” and “mal educados”, by people who own a Greek restaurant in that small town, across from the Tumacacori National Park.
I had volunteered to drive to pick up our traditional healers from Rio Yaqui who were coming to the reservation for the Traditional Healing program in the Alternative Medicine Department. They were safely picked up at the bus station and we crossed into the U.S. My co-worker and I were tired and wanted a cup of coffee before we began the trip back to the Pascua Pueblo Reservation.
I drove into Tumacacori, hoping to get some coffee and found this restaurant. It said Gyros and it was open, so we stopped. The gentleman who approached me as I got out said that they did have coffee, but “not to go”, hence we went into the restaurant to sit down drink some coffee.
As we entered, we noticed that they seem to stare a little bit extra at us, as we were dressed in our traditional clothing. Two of us went into the restrooms while three of us were getting ready to be seated. The two traditional healers were standing, when the 60 year old woman, who was the waitress told them that they needed to buy something if they wanted to use the restaurant and gave us a harsh look. Our healers do not speak English.
We sat and then ordered coffee and a soda from the older waitress and meanwhile, the man who was tending the cooking area, the same one who told us about the coffee, kept staring at us in a very exasperated and angry way and the older waitress and he were talking in low tones and kept staring at us as if they did not want us in the restaurant. I don’t know if it was because we were not going to order food, but just coffee or because of who we were. It was hard to distinguish.
The waiter then took the menus and angrily shoved them back into the storing area near the cash register. They then sent out a young woman who was working in the back kitchen and she asked us what we wanted and we said coffee/cream and one refresco, a Coke. By then, Marcelina who works for the Alternative Medicine Program and I began to feel very comfortable. They kept staring and talking about us. By then we knew that they did not want us there at all!
Then the older waitress came out and brought me a coffee and the other Sr. his Coke. We waited and still no coffee for my co-worker, Marcelina Lucero. Marcelina and I decided enough was enough and decided to leave. We did not drink the coffee or the Coke and left the restaurant.
As we walked out, three older gentlemen began to call the traditional healers “mal educados” in a harsh way. And I know they understood that very well. We got into our GSA vehicle and the older waitress and one of the older men stormed out of the restaurant and began to say some very rude things to us that we could not quite make out, as we were in a hurry to get into the vehicle. Then the older waitress began to yell at us and called us “dirty Mexicans” and to not come back, the older man began yelling that we needed to pay for our untouched coffee and unopened Coke and the older waitress was still saying some things to us.
As we drove away, the older man was writing down our GSA plate number and we took off in total shock, afraid and hurt. I surely had not expected this kind of behavior in a town that has our ceremonial Matachinim come dance every year at Tumacacori; a town that our Yaqui people help settle in the 1800’s.
I drove in silence and my passengers were also silent; mortified and fearful over what had just happened. It seemed so unreal. We did not know what to say to each other. I was expecting the police to stop us at second to charge us with a crime and my heart was beating very hard and I think the same for all the others.
More so, Jose, I felt for the Yaqui healers who came to the U.S. with all legal documents, wanting to help our tribal people and for them to get treated in the manner, not more than 15 minutes after crossing the border. This was beyond my control and Marcelina’s control. We could not do anything to stop it.
I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but I do know that it served Greek food. We were so upset that none of us recalled those names after the incident. But it is across from the national park in a renovated house.
I am sharing this with you, because I just don’t know what to do and to let you know not to go to that restaurant and let others know. It was horrifying and awful that they told us those things and I did pray that they, the restaurant people get some good heart and that God forgive them.
Maybe the police will track the GSA down and they will charge us with a crime, because they seemed to be that type of people, but we did not drink the coffee or open the Coke. But we did use the restroom if that is a crime.
I have not told our tribal council, as I was volunteering as a driver and I hope that Marcelina does report it to her supervisor, Mr. Howard. I really feel for the healers. It took me some hours before I was calm again and I am sure they felt very badly about it for some time.
Amalia Reyes, Manager
Dr. Fernando Escalante Community
Library & Resource Center
Physical Address-7441 S. Camino Cocoim
Mailing Address-7474 S. Camino de Oeste
Tucson, Arizona 85757
520-879-5474/5742 -Fax 520-879-5475
"Wepul Hiapsi tavenasia te nau tekipanoane, Let us work together as if we had One Heart".
Dr. Fernando Escalante