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Big Jim: A priest remembered 202 years later

Big Jim: A priest remembered 202 years later

Hear a story that has been told for more than 200 years.

September 19, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: Oquitoa and its church

Big Jim: Oquitoa and its church

Jim writes about the folklore of Southern Arizona and northern Sonora.

September 15, 2014 9:30 pm Related Loading…
Big Jim: The Pitiquito Punitive Expedition

Big Jim: The Pitiquito Punitive Expedition

I was told the following story by an elderly doctor from Pitiquito, Sonora, some of whose ancestors had been involved in the incident. The year was 1916. Pancho Villa had raided Columbus, New Mexico in March, killing several Americans. An expedition commanded by General Pershing was sent int…

June 13, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: The painted walls of Pitiquito

Big Jim: The painted walls of Pitiquito

Pitiquito is on Mexican Highway 2, just a few miles east of Caborca. The church of San Diego can be seen from the highway, and is well worth a visit for several reasons. It is a handsome building, lovely in its severity, though lacking in outside adornment. Inside are a number of nice coloni…

June 10, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: The Black Christ of Aconchi

Big Jim: The Black Christ of Aconchi

The church of San Pedro de Aconchi, downstream on the Río Sonora from Huépac, has a Black Christ over the main altar. Although some local folks refer to it by its “proper” name of El Señor de Esquipulas, it also has legends similar to the one I told earlier for the Black Christ of Ímuris. In…

June 06, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: A church and a legend

Big Jim: A church and a legend

Huépac is the next village downstream from Banámichi, on the Río Sonora. By the way, when you go through Banámichi, look at the huge stone on a statuary base in the park just east of the road. The base is modern; the stone bears a complex design of petroglyphs that some say is a map of the p…

June 03, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: The Río Sonora

Big Jim: The Río Sonora

Mountain ranges in Sonora tend to run north and south, with rivers between them. At some point, the rivers turn west and run to the sea. The farther east you travel, rivers and mountains get larger, and the more accessible an older, traditional Sonora becomes. Let’s spend some time on the Rí…

May 30, 2014 12:00 amLoading…
Big Jim: A thrice-blessed land

Big Jim: A thrice-blessed land

Eugene Manlove Rhodes was a writer of Westerns — a rather special one. From 1880 till 1905 he lived in southern New Mexico, working as a wrangler, cowboy, miner, and whatever else he turned his hand to. Then he married and spent the next decades farming in upstate New York and missing deeply…

May 27, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: An old-fashioned story

Big Jim: An old-fashioned story

March 15 came and went a month and a half ago, unnoticed and uncelebrated except by a few Civil War buffs. It was the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Picacho Pass, the westernmost engagement of the American Civil War.

May 23, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: ...And another mural

Big Jim: ...And another mural

There’s a large tile mural on the west wall of the Diocesan building on the southeast corner of Broadway and Church, just east of 20 de Agosto Park. It is called “A City and a Church Arise Together,” and was commissioned by the Catholic Diocese of Tucson and executed by the Tohono O’oldham a…

May 20, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: A tale of two statues

Big Jim: A tale of two statues

There is a statue of Pancho Villa in downtown Tucson’s Veinte de Agosto Park, a small triangular grassy space right where Congress and Broadway join (or separate, depending on which way you are going). It is a dynamic representation of Villa on horseback, created by Mexico’s famous sculptor …

May 16, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: A saint, a fiesta and a sculptor

Big Jim: A saint, a fiesta and a sculptor

May 15 is the day of San Ysidro Labrador — Saint Isidore the Farmer (1070-1130), of whom I wrote a year ago. He was the hired hand who spent so much time praying that God sent an angel to plow the field for him. He is the patron of farmers, and is often prayed to in Mexico to help bring rain…

May 13, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: Mother's Day

Big Jim: Mother's Day

The month of May in Catholic tradition belongs to Mary, mother of Jesus. In a number of countries, including the United States and Mexico, the same month also contains Mothers’ Day — a popular holiday set aside for celebrating all mothers. Here it’s on the second Sunday in May; in Mexico, on May 10.

May 09, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: Saints, art, and history

Big Jim: Saints, art, and history

What are saints? In the Catholic Church, they are individuals who, while they lived, displayed the Christian virtues to such an extent that they were welcomed directly into heaven upon their death. Some lived well-documented lives; others are visible only through the murky lens of pious trad…

May 06, 2014 9:02 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: El Cinco de Mayo

Big Jim: El Cinco de Mayo

Monday is May 5 — El Cinco de Mayo. The first important thing about this holiday is this: it is not Mexican Independence Day. It commemorates the Mexican army’s victory in 1862 over a much larger and better-equipped French army, just outside the city of Puebla. Just how did that French army …

May 02, 2014 12:05 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: Heroic Caborca in history and legend

Big Jim: Heroic Caborca in history and legend

The year was 1857. The United States had just won a war with Mexico and gained large stretches of territory thereby. Ambitious Americans called filibusteros were planning or trying to carve out their own Anglo-Saxon bits of territory in Latin America. Such a man was Henry Alexander Crabb. A …

April 29, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: The Mission Church at Caborca, Sonora

Big Jim: The Mission Church at Caborca, Sonora

I’ve often said that the Pimería Alta is one big natural, historical and cultural region, stretching from the Gila River south to the Río Concepción, and from the San Pedro River to the Gulf of California. The church we’ll virtually (and virtuously) visit today provides proof of that statement.

April 25, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: Cascarones

Big Jim: Cascarones

Those of you who attended the Yaqui Easter ceremonies last weekend doubtless had the opportunity to buy cascarones — decorated egg shells filled with confetti. (The singular is cascarón.) Cascarones are used all over the Mexican world, adding to the excitement of parties by being broken over…

April 22, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: Pysanky — Ukranian Easter eggs

Big Jim: Pysanky — Ukranian Easter eggs

Over the past weeks, some Ukrainian-American women in Tucson have busied themselves in creating beautiful, intricate works of art — pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter eggs. Here’s how older women have told me they do it:

April 18, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: Yaqui Easter

Big Jim: Yaqui Easter

Palm Sunday has come and gone, and Tucson’s Yaqui communities are beginning the culminating days of their annual Easter Ceremony. In my last blog I set the stage for you, so I’ll just cut to the chase. And a chase it is, with the Fariseos and Chapayekas seeking to capture and crucify Christ.…

April 15, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: The Yaqui Palm Sunday Fiesta

Big Jim: The Yaqui Palm Sunday Fiesta

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday — the beginning of Holy Week. For Yaquis, this means that the forty-day-long Passion Play they learned and adapted from Jesuit missionaries in the 1600s is moving toward its end. Every Friday evening in Lent, a religious procession has left the church in each of Tu…

April 11, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: San Ignacio Cabórica

Big Jim: San Ignacio Cabórica

As you drive through Ímuris on Highway, 15, you’ll probably notice a car from the Policia Federal de Caminos, or Federal Highway Police. It is not true that they are there to arrest folks who don’t stop to buy quesadillas, but I’ve never put it to the test. Follow the divided highway through…

April 08, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: The Black Christ of Ímuris

Big Jim: The Black Christ of Ímuris

This story begins in 16th Century Guatemala, and winds up at our next virtual destination – Ímuris, Sonora. Patience, fleas; the night is long.

April 04, 2014 12:00 amLoading…
Big Jim: La Santa Muerte

Big Jim: La Santa Muerte

La Santa Muerte is an “outsider” to formally established religion, she appeals to other outsiders, especially to those who live beyond society’s safety nets and laws.

April 01, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: A visit to Tumacácori

Big Jim: A visit to Tumacácori

Tumacácori National Historical Park, a couple of miles south of Tubac, is well worth a visit. Here you can experience the other great institution of New Spain’s northern frontier — the mission.

March 28, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: The Tubac Presidio

Big Jim: The Tubac Presidio

Two great institutions of the imperial Spanish frontier (that’s where we live!) were the mission and the presidio. Missions and missionaries have figured in these blogs from time to time; now let’s take a look at a presidio. There are three visitable Spanish presidios in Arizona, and sooner …

March 25, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: A new magazine, and old sauce, and a great story

Big Jim: A new magazine, and old sauce, and a great story

There’s a great new magazine in Tucson these days. Since last October, Edible Baja Arizona has been “celebrating the foodways of Tucson and the borderlands” every two months. It’s a truly classy production, averaging more than a hundred pages per issue, and complete with color illustrations.…

March 21, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: After the race was over ...

Big Jim: After the race was over ...

Leonardo Yañez, “el Nano,” composer of the corrido / Begs pardon of everyone. There is no doubt that / The chestnut from Agua Prieta won, / And the Moro de Cumpas lost.

March 18, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: After the race was over ...

Big Jim: After the race was over ...

The statue of el Moro at the turn-off to Cumpas, Sonora, June, 2004. Photo by Jim Griffith.

March 14, 2014 9:46 am
Big Jim: A famous St. Patrick's Day horse race

Big Jim: A famous St. Patrick's Day horse race

If you ask any of the musicians who stroll our bars and restaurants to sing “El Moro de Cumpas,” chances are they will respond with a corrido or ballad whose beginning translates into English as

March 14, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: After the race was over ...

Big Jim: After the race was over ...

Don Rafael Romero in his sala, January, 1984.

March 14, 2014 12:00 am
Big Jim: An Irish priest's story

Big Jim: An Irish priest's story

Sometimes jokes, like other stories, hide a deep truth behind their surface.

March 11, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: More traditional Lenten foods

Big Jim: More traditional Lenten foods

Capirotada is not the only special Mexican food associated with the Lenten season. Another is tortas de camarón, or shrimp fritters. These use dried shrimp, of the sort that can be found in markets that specialize in Mexican ingredients. If you find powdered shrimp, well and good; if not, gr…

March 07, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: Capirotada

Big Jim: Capirotada

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday — the beginning of Lent. For Catholics in particular, this forty-day season comes with food restrictions: occasional fast days, no meat on Friday, and the like.

March 04, 2014 12:00 amLoading…
Big Jim: More than 'Just a story'

Big Jim: More than 'Just a story'

Here’s something that happened while we were photographing those African-American quilts back in 1979.

February 28, 2014 12:00 am Photos

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Big Jim: African-American quilt design

Big Jim: African-American quilt design

I’m a folklorist, not an historian. My kind typically uses the past to help understand the present, rather than treating the past as subject matter in its own right. So I find myself turning Black History Month into Black Heritage Month for the purposes of this blog.

February 25, 2014 12:00 amLoading…
African-American quilt design 1

African-American quilt design 1

Mrs. Ella May Muldrow and Worth Long holding Mrs. Muldrow's strip quilt ouside her home in Randolph, Arizona.

February 24, 2014 12:00 am
African-American quilt design 5

African-American quilt design 5

Worth Long and Mrs. Lenore Mathis with Mrs. Mathis' "Light shade" quilt, Randolph, Arizona. This is the most startling quilt I have photogaphed, and I couldn't bear to leave it out.

February 24, 2014 12:00 am
African-American quilt design 4

African-American quilt design 4

Reverend and Mrs. Hilaseo Howard with Mrs. Howard's "hourglass" quilt at their home in Eloy, Arizona.

February 24, 2014 12:00 am
African-American quilt design 2

African-American quilt design 2

Mrs Ruby Woods with the "bow tie" quilt top she has just pieced. Tucson, AZ

February 24, 2014 12:00 am
African-American quilt design 3

African-American quilt design 3

Another take on the "bow tie" pattern. Reverend and Mrs. Cartwright and Worth Long outside the Cartwrights home in Florence, Arizona. This time the bow ties are organized in strips, rather than squares.

February 24, 2014 12:00 am
Big Jim: A few thoughts about rodeo

Big Jim: A few thoughts about rodeo

The rodeo is almost over, but there’s still time to add a little context to this popular sport.

February 21, 2014 8:10 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: the Tucson Rodeo Parade

Big Jim: the Tucson Rodeo Parade

The 89th Tucson Rodeo Parade will take place this Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. The route goes south on Park Avenue from Ajo Way to Irvington Road, then west to Sixth Avenue, then north to the Rodeo Grounds, where it ends.

February 18, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: Tucson's fiddle contest is tomorrow

Big Jim: Tucson's fiddle contest is tomorrow

The annual Tucson Old-Time Fiddling Contest takes place tomorrow, Feb. 15, at San Miguel High School, 6601 S. San Fernando Ave. That’s south of Valencia and between Sixth and 12th avenues. Admission is free; the competition starts at 10 a.m.

February 14, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: Old-time fiddling

Big Jim: Old-time fiddling

I once asked famous bluegrass fiddler Leslie Keith about the difference between a violin and a fiddle. “Well, Jim,’ he replied, “you keep a violin in a beautiful tooled leather case, and you tote a fiddle around in an old flour sack.” In other words, same instrument, different social baggage.

February 11, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: The Children's Shrine

Big Jim: The Children's Shrine

Just west of Gu Achi (Santa Rosa Village) near the center of Tohono O’odham Nation stands a beautiful shrine — one of the holiest places on that nation. It consists of a pile of flat rocks surrounded by a circle of peeled ocotillo stalks. This circle has four openings; one for each of the fo…

February 07, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: The story of the Ho'ok

Big Jim: The story of the Ho'ok

This story, which is part of a much longer narrative, is set near the Sonoran O’odham village of Pozo Verde, near the southern end of the Baboquivari Mountains.

February 04, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: I'itoi kills the nehbig

Big Jim: I'itoi kills the nehbig

The setting is far to the west of Tucson, near present-day Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. At some point in the far-distant past, a huge animal called a nehbig came out of the ground and started sucking people into its maw.

January 31, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
Big Jim: I'itoi and Baboquivari

Big Jim: I'itoi and Baboquivari

It’s as close to cold weather as we might get in Tucson this year, so it’s time for me to share with you some of traditional stories of the Tohono O’odham. According to their owners, these stories should be told only during the cold weather, when the snakes are asleep, and I prefer to respec…

January 28, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…

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