#1. The Seri Tribe Language Is Considered An Isolate
The Seri Tribe is a Southwest Indian Tribe that has a language that is considered an isolate language.
An isolate language is considered extinct now. An isolate language is a language that does not have any tributaries. Think of a river that does not receive any water...it will eventually dry up.
For this reason, the Seri language is extinct today.
#2. They Were Located In The Desert
In the pre-Hispanic period, the territory of the Seri was located between the mountains, the Encinas desert, and the Gulf of California.
The territory extended from the Altar desert in the north to the Yaqui River in the South and from Horcasitas in the east to the nearby islands of Tiburón, San Esteban, Patos, and Alcatraz in the west.
Since they were nomads, they traveled back and forth depending on the seasons, movement of wild game, etc.
#3. They Were Persecuted In Mexico
The Seri Tribe does not reside in the United States, but that does not mean that they escaped persecution because they did not have to deal with American Expansion.
The tribe dealt with persecution from the moment the Spanish Conquistadors came into contact with them. The persecution hit its height during the 18th century when the Spanish and Mexican militaries began to drive them from their land.
What saved them was that they were not what the Spanish were looking for. They did not have gold, and their land was not very useful.
Because of this, the Seri people preserved their autonomy and culture for much longer than other indigenous peoples. During the colonial period, the Jesuits, who tried to evangelize them and teach them agricultural practices, were the most steady contact the Seri had with outsiders.
None of their efforts were successful, and the Seri always returned to their desert lifestyles, which is why they were always considered an unlawful group, mainly by white people. The Spanish, then later the Mexicans, tried to effectively kill off all of the Seri, which lead to the near total annihilation of the group.
However, the Seri people were never formally conquered or evangelized during that time. Little by little, they were confined to a part of their territory and decimated in number.
#4. They Benefited From The Great Depression
The Seri tribe was driven to Tiburon Island in the Gulf of Mexico. They lived on this island to avoid persecution. However, the island did not sustain life well as it lacked many resources.
They began to migrate back to the mainland and found work as fishermen. During the Great Depression, fish was high in demand because the cost was much lower than beef.
From that moment, the Seri people began to occupy an essential role in the economy of commercial exchange and the use of money in their market operations. This began a period in which rapid structural, organizational, and cultural changes occurred.
#5. The Seri Are Known For Their Music
The Seri have preserved much of their native music, which distinguished them from almost all other ethnic groups in Mexico. Instrumental music and most traditional instruments are less common in use, but songs are still an important part of Seri culture.
Instruments like foot drums or rattling gourds may be used to accompany quick and repetitive Seri singing. The rhythms and percussion provided by dancers may also be used to accompany songs.
Singing is a cultural tradition practiced by many Seri of all ages in order to describe the world around them. Some songs even feature knowledge of their ecological environment and the ethnobotanical aspects of their culture, which has allowed them to survive under difficult environmental conditions.
While there are virtually no written records kept by the Seri, their songs have served as libraries of knowledge about their history, beliefs, and culture. Songs are often repeated, with many songs being sung in quantities of four.
There are various types of songs, but not all are well represented in the modern day, and others are more commonly heard in public performances.
The most interesting ones are often sung in private situations. The Seri are reluctant to formally record many songs, including many songs of mourning, because they either believe they should not be performed out of context or they are too personal.