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.


In Hiaki, the translation for deer is maaso. This term is used for both the animal and the dancer. When most spectators come to watch the deer dancer they tend to focus on the feet, but where they should be looking at is at the deer’s head. The deer is a highly-admired creature in the Hiaki culture, because it represents independence, freedom, and strength.

Another word for deer is yoawa, which is used when one is speaking about deer in general. The word sou te’ele is used when referring to a different species of a small male deer. In the past, hunters would not come close to these deer because they would spit on them.

The following is a short story about the maaso:

When Tucson was populated by about 35,000 people and surrounded by wilderness with hardly any transportation around the deer roamed around freely around the land. Because the deer could roam freely many were awed by its beauty and it also provided food for the people. The men saw the strength they wished to have.

Around the time between the first and second world war the mother deer and its fawns would go sit on the banks and drink water. The deer would not be bothered in these instances, because of the belief that the Hiaki are one with the animal world and must respect life in every form. All life has a purpose. For example, when hunting one must wait for a sign from the deer that indicates that it okay for the hunter to kill it.


Ha’achihtia is a short plant that produces tiny and bright yellow flowers. The plant can be found growing beside creeks and small streams in Northern Sonora, Mexico, though it’s picky about where it grows and is difficult to find. In use, it is actually very similar to what is commonly known as “sneezeweed” in English, though the differences in the two plants’ sizes and distribution suggest that they’re not the same plant. The flowers of ha’achihtia look similar to those of a daisy, though there is one key distinction; they make anyone who sniffs them sneeze explosively. Because of this, the Hiaki and other indigenous people who live near to where it grows, such as the Mayo, use it as a natural decongestant. The flower is picked, dried, and ground into a powder which is then kept covered so that everyone isn’t constantly sneezing uncontrollably. When somebody catches a cold or just wants to clear out his or her sinuses, all they have to do is sniff the powder. After a heavy bout of sneezing, they should be able to breathe through their noses again.

Ha’achihtia likely gets its name from the Hiaki word for sneezing, ha’achihte. In fact, if we replace the letter “e” at the end of ha’achihte with “ia”, the word becomes a noun. Additionally, the word ha’achihte is a good example of a concept called sound symbolism, which means that it sounds similar to the particular action it describes. If you think about it, ha’achihte sounds close to the noises people make when sneezing. (The word Achis! is the equivalent of English achoo! in many languages around the world; it’s possible that ha’achihte is made up of some variant of achis plus the verbalizing suffix -te. In Hiaki -s is pronounced like ‘h’ when it occurs before a consonant, so achis-te would be expected to surface as achih-te if that were the etymological base of ha’achihte.)

The Hiaki name for the plant is reflective of its natural properties and the effect it has on people. However, the Mayo people also live in the plant’s natural habitat. They speak a language very closely related to Hiaki, but their name for the plant derives from the way it is taken in its medicinal use. In Mayo, ha’achihtia is called júptera, which literally means “for sniffing”.