The word for coyote in Hiaki is, Wo’i, but in Sonora it is pronounced as Go’i. In the Hiaki culture, coyotes are known as thieves. In Hiaki stories, you often hear of Wo’i Wakila (Skinny Coyote) playing tricks and getting into trouble. An example of using the word is:

“Wo’i wakahta nee etbwariak!”

“Coyote stole my meat!”

A word related to wo’i is va’a wo’i, which means ‘water coyote’, but it refers to the egret, because it walks around hunting fish in the water like the coyote hunts its prey on land.

Yo’ohoara – House of the Elders

Yo’ohoara (also called encanto) refers to sacred and magical places in the Hiaki lore. These are usually hills in inconspicuous locations that look like they have never before been touched by mankind. If a person has a desire to become more skilled at something, such as becoming a better musician or artist, he or she can travel to one of these places and ask for their wish to be granted.

First, you must be completely alone and must truly believe in the power of the yo’ohoara. None of this will work if you have just the slightest shred of doubt. You should go to the yo’ohoara sometime in the morning, sit under a mesquite tree, and wait for a door to appear at exactly high noon. If the door appears to you and you are truly sincere, then it will open and you will see the entrance to the spirit world. A creature with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a billy goat (chiva’ato) will come out and ask you what you seek. This creature is the devil himself. You should only tell him what you want if it is something you truly desire and are determined to achieve, because if you are insincere and you go through the door with him, you can never come out. But, before he lets you in, he will test you by hopping on you, touching you all over, and rubbing himself on you. If you are not disturbed to the point of leaving, then he will allow you entrance.

Once you have travelled through the door, you must continue to follow the devil and look straight ahead. To one side of you, there will be a group of masterful musicians playing the most wonderful music you’ve ever heard. To the other side will be the most beautiful women wearing revealing clothing. Both the musicians and the women will be calling your name and beckoning you to come to them; the men will say they’ll teach you to play like them and the women will tell you they want to spend time with you. However, you must not give in to temptation, because if you so much as turn your head from the devil’s back and look at them, you will never be allowed to leave the spirit world. Among the other things you will see while following the devil are a great many people who could not resist temptation and are forever trapped.

If you prove to pass this test, then you must speak with the devil once more. The conversation you have with him will lead to one of two outcomes, if you’re smart. If you changed your mind and you don’t wish to strike a deal with the devil, then you can explain that there is nothing you desire from him, and he will escort you out. But, upon leaving, you will forget all of the events that transpired. If you still desire the skill you sought coming into the spirit world, then you must tell him. He will grant you what you seek, but in exchange for your soul. He’ll tell you that he will come to you when it is time, but if you are clever, you can tell him to come for you when all of the fingers on your hands are the same length as your middle fingers. Not realizing that the fingers on human hands never grow to be all the same length, he will agree to your condition. This will grant your soul the protection of never being claimed by the devil, but for the rest of your life you will feel a tugging on your fingers.

If you, like many Hiakis who have entered the yo’ohoara seek to be a better violinist, then the devil will hand you a violin of your own, but the bow will be a snake. The snake will wrap itself around your arm and pass over the strings just like a regular bow, but if you make a mistake while playing, it will tug on you and correct you.

If, one day, you decide to visit a yo’ohoara for whatever reason, be careful not to linger around it for too long, because the spirit Yoeta is rumored to reside by such places.


The translation for the word vaiseevoi or vaiseevoli is butterfly. Vaiseevoli is used as an endearment, like if you were to say “pretty butterfly.” The first part of the word, ‘vai‘ means water or cool and the second part ‘seevoi‘ is the word for fly, Butterflies are usually seen after the monsoon season arrives. In Hiaki culture, the large black black butterflies are seen as an omen of death or bad luck, but the small butterflies signify good luck.


The Hiaki version of the exclamation Hallelujah is Aleluuya, also sometimes pronounced Alelua, but in Hiaki, it also refers to Easter Sunday. It is also used to refer to (non-Catholic) Hiaki Christians. In the past, the Hiaki Christians would come with loud speakers on their cars and would be singing “Hallelujah” and prayers to the creator; because of this, they came to be called the Aleluuyam.

One of the songs they would play over the loudspeakers in Barrio Libre went like this:

Hesu Kristota ohvo itom vaksiane,

Tosali, tosali sapam venasi.

This means, “Jesus Christ’s blood will wash us clean, white, white like the snow.” The words were set to a catchy tune, and all the kids sang along

Sometimes non-Catholic Christians refer to each other and others as hermanos or hermanas.In Sonora, hermanos and hermanas are often Jehova Witnesses. However, it is better to refer to such Hiaki Christians as Aleluuyam to avoid confusion.


In Hiaki lore, Yoeta is a spirit that lives in the wilderness and collects livestock like horses and cows that have escaped from their pastures or corrals. He rides a horse of his own and always makes sure his spurs are loud so that he can better herd the animals. Yoeta dresses in all black and his horse has a beautiful bridle, though he does not let himself be seen by just anyone. Only a chosen few can see him, but he won’t show himself unless you are completely alone. You can never quite see his face, just his and his horse’s glowing eyes. Because of his looks and his tendency to only appear far into the wilderness very late at night, Yoeta is a frightening spirit.

If you happen to be out in the wilderness at around 2:00 or 3:00am and have a camp set up for the night and Yoeta makes himself known to you, you must never invite him off of his horse to join you by your campfire. If he accepts your offer, it is said that you will never return home. There are stories among the Hiaki of close encounters with Yoeta where someone invites him to sit at the fire, but he just turns around and leaves instead. Not everyone is that lucky.

Alleewame and Proper Greetings

Alleewame and Proper Greetings

Alleewame is a Hiaki word meaning ‘contentment’ and ‘(physical or mental) well-being’.  It’s derived from the word allea,  meaning ‘content, happy, well’, with the addition of two suffixes, the impersonal -wa and the nominalizer -me. This concept plays an important role when one is greeting other people in Hiaki.

Properly greeting someone is an important aspect of Hiaki culture, and part of a proper Hiaki greeting consists of asking about the alleewame of the other person. You don’t want to just say a quick hello and then get on with it. Instead you should ask about their health and happiness with something like Ketche allea? which means something like “Are you still happy?” In case you need to remind somebody to inquire about the alleewame of whoever they’re going to greet, you could say Alleewamta nattemaine! which means “Ask about their health and contentment!”

Also, if you happen to be receiving the greeting, it’s important that you reciprocate the courtesy that has been extended to you. This means that if you are asked about your health and if you’re content, you should respond and then ask about the well-being of whoever is greeting you. For example, after you hear Ketche allea? you should say Ket tu’i, which means “still good”. Then you should say Emposu? which means, ‘And you?’ (If you’re talking to more than one person, you would say, Eme’esu? instead, which means ‘And you (plural)?’)

But before you begin asking about people’s alleewame, you would want to begin the greeting with Lios enchi anía (God help you), to which the proper response is Lios enchi hiokoe (God bless you).

Here’s an example of a typical exchange of Hiaki greetings:

Greeter: Lios enchi anía!                          (God help you)

Response: Lios enchi hiokoe.                  (God bless you)

Greeter: Ketche allea?                               (Are you still content?)

Response: Ket tu’i. Emposu?                   (Still good. And you?)

Keeping all of this in mind, you should be ready to give an appropriate greeting in the Hiaki language!

Kia san chive! (What a mess!)

Just like in many different cultures around the world, in Hiaki culture, it is expected of an individual to look presentable and be well dressed for more formal occasions. But, there is always at least one person who just never seems to dress formally enough for events that call for nicer attire. Here are some Hiaki phrases you can say to describe the way somebody like that might look or dress.

San cho’o kovak is a phrase you can use to describe somebody with unkempt hair.

Womti cho’o kovak is a similar phrase, but it means something like “frightened hair” and refers to somebody’s hair standing up more than it should.

To describe somebody who simply never dresses appropriately for special occasions, you can say

Aapo hiva hunuen au uhu’u, which means something like “this is how he/she carries him/herself”.

If you want to say something similar but want to make it specific about messy hair, you can say

Aapo hiva san ata kovaka na weye, which roughly means “he/she’s always going around with his/her hair like that”. In a conversation, somebody could reply

Kaa au chike, which means “he/she doesn’t comb him/herself”.

However, if you want to say something positive about somebody who always looks presentable and is always well-put-together, you can say Hunuu hamut hiva tu’ulisi au uhu’u, which means “that woman always carries/presents/takes care of herself well”, but only if you’re a woman yourself. If you are a man, you ought to say Hunuu maala hiva tu’ulisi au uhu’u. The difference here is that it’s okay for a woman to refer to another woman as using the word hamut, but men should use the word maala out of respect for the woman they’re speaking about.

Hiak viivam

The translation of tobacco in Hiaki is Hiak viivam referring specifically to the tobacco Hiaki grew near the Río Yaqui. Unfortunately, the plant no longer flourishes there because of the lack of water that runs through the river; however, there are still some people who have managed to grow it themselves. The plant can only grow in Sonora, Mexico because of the soft soil and temperature.

In the past, when the plant was abundant the men would gather the large leaves in the night and then lay them out to be dried for the morning to come. Once dried the men would take the corn husks and use the soft part to roll the tobacco in it. Hiaki Viivam was not to be used by women or young people or as a hallucinogenic. Hiaki Viivam was used as a relaxation method and is still used as such in Sonora although it is not a common practice.

All About Farming


The Hiaki word etwame roughly translates to “agriculture” in English. But farming is a long and multi-step process, so there are many different words in Hiaki that name and describe some of these steps. Here are some examples:

Mauhte refers to the process of preparing the ground for planting by clearing the field of wild plants and plowing it to loosen up the soil. This is normally done in the months preceding October, which is when the crops are actually planted.

Hina’a is the Hiaki word for “weeding”. This is something you’ll want to do after you’ve planted your crops and they’ve started to sprout so that weeds don’t steal all of their water. Speaking of water…

Vaane is the Hiaki verb used when talking about watering plants. If someone wanted to mention irrigating wheat, they might say something like tiikom vanwa, which means “the wheat is being irrigated”.


Yuku is the Hiaki word for rain, however, just like in many other languages, there is a variety of words one can use to describe rain in different situations and contexts. Here are some examples of useful Hiaki words related to rainfall.

Tevuhria is the Hiaki word for what we know as the “monsoon season” here in the Southwest. It refers to the period of high humidity and frequent, heavy rain between late July and mid-September. During tevuhria, you’re much less likely to encounter a type of rain known as kepa yuku.

Kepa yuku is a light, pleasant, and gentle rain. This rain typically lasts longer in duration than other rains, but it’s closer to a drizzle and doesn’t usually occur with wind, so people don’t mind walking around in it and it doesn’t necessitate an umbrella. The cloud that causes kepa yuku is a low-hanging, seemingly motionless cloud known as kepa yuku naamu, and the phrase kepa cha’atula describes the state of the weather and the sky before kepa yuku actually occurs.