Hiaki Basics

What other names does the Hiaki language have?

Yaqui, Jiaki and Yoeme are the most commonly known names, but it has also been called ‘Cahita’. The spelling ‘Hiaki’ follows the official English-based orthography adopted by the Pascua Yaqui tribe, and is a more accurate representation of its pronunciation than ‘Yaqui’, which is missing the initial ‘h’ sound.

How many people speak Hiaki today?

Fewer than 100 people speak it fluently in the southern United States; a few thousand speakers live in northern Mexico. In the pueblos in Sonora, Hiaki is learned as a first language by children.

To which language family does Hiaki belong?

Uto-Aztecan. Other languages that belong to this family include: O’odham, Pima, Tepehuan, Opata, Eudeve, Tarahumara, Guarijio, Tubar, Cora, Huichol, Nahuatl, Pipil, Pochutec, Mono, N. Paiute, Panamint, Shoshoni, Comanche, Kawaiisu, Ute, Serrano, Kitanemuk, Gabrielino, Cupeno, Cahuilla, and Luiseno (Silver and Miller 1997: 370-371).

Where is Hiaki spoken?

Southern Arizona and in Northern Mexico, in the state of Sonora, Mexico.

Where is the Hiaki homeland?

The Rio Yaqui Valley in Northern Mexico and further north into Arizona.

What sort of use does the Hiaki language see today?

Use in Arizona is primarily restricted to ceremonial use and by tribal elders. In Sonora, it is used in everyday life, and spoken by children and adults.

Is the Hiaki language endangered?

Yes, Hiaki is an endangered language. In Arizona, it is severely endangered, as no children are learning it as a first language. If this situation does not change, the Hiaki language will cease to exist in Arizona in the next generation.

What resources exist for learning the Hiaki language in Arizona?

English~Yoeme dictionary, Spanish~Yaqui dictionary, tribal elders, and limited textual resources


Moseley, Christopher. 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. http://www.unesco.org/

Silver, Shirley and Miller, Wick R. 1997. American Indian Languages.
Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.