Sonoran Indigenous Groups

There are eight groups of indigenous peoples in Sonora. The Mayo, Yaqui, Pima, Seri, Cucapá, Papago and Guarijio are native to the Sonora region. The eighth group, the Kikapú, immigrated to Sonora but have maintained a presence in the state for more than 100 years, so they are considered to be indigenous Sonorans.

All of the native Sonoran peoples have their own unique customs and traditions, and endeavor to maintain their native language and cultural heritage, especially among their younger generations.

Mayo – Yoreme

The Mayo of Southern Sonora is the most populous Sonoran ethnic group, with approximately 80,000 members. The Mayo live in the Mayo Valley region of Southern Sonora. There were originally eight Mayo pueblos established by Jesuit missionaries in the 1600s, and today the most populous cities in the region are Navojoa, Alamos, Quiriego, Etchojoa and Huatabampo. Read more about the Mayo peoples of Sonora.

Yaqui – Yoeme

The Yaqui also mainly reside in Southern Sonora, in the Yaqui Valley. Like the Mayo, the Yaqui originally had eight pueblos that were established by the Jesuits in the early 1600s. The most populous city in the Yaqui Valley is Ciudad Obregon. Yaquis have a strong sense of tradition and deep religious faith. Read more about the Yaqui peoples of Sonora.

Comcáac – Seri

The Seri peoples are a traditional fishing culture that has historically resided near the coast of Sonora. Isla Tiburon (Shark Island) is sacred land for the Seris, they inhabit the nearby coastal areas like Kino Bay, and the coastal villages of Punta Chueca and Desemboque.  Seri women are known for their unique techniques of face painting, and Seri artisans produce beautiful art and crafts. Read more about the Seri peoples of Sonora.

Pima – O’ob

The Pima inhabit part of the mountainous Sierra Madre Occidental in Southeastern Sonora. Their main traditional religious ritual is to bless the annual crop of maize. Read more about the Pima peoples of Sonora.


The Cucapá are located in Northern Sonora, with their population concentrated in the international border municipality of San Luis Rio Colorado. They are known for their sorrowful ritual ceremonies, and cremate their dead in the belief that it will cause them to realize eternal peace. Read more about the Cucapá of Northern Sonora.

Guarijío – Makurawe

The Guarijíos reside in Southeastern Sonora, in the municipalities of Alamos and Quiriego. They are known for their ritual ceremonies related to annual rains. Read more about the Guarijío peoples of Sonora.

Papago – Tohono O’odham

Originally known as the Papago, the Tohono O’odham people live a cross-border existence. Their nation is located in Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora. The Sonoran tribal members are primarily concentrated in the Northern Sonora municipalities of Puerto Peñasco, Saric, Magdalena and Caborca. Their native language is most closely linked linguistically to that of the Pima. Read more about the Tohono O’odham of Sonora.


The Kikapú peoples originated in the state of Michigan in the Northern United States. They migrated to the municipality of Bacerac, where they have resided for more than 100 years. The Kikapú are known for their adherence to a variety of rituals and traditions. Read more about the Kikapú peoples of Sonora.