For non-Yaquis it is difficult to fully grasp the blend of ancient Yaqui beliefs and the religion taught to them by Jesuit priests in the 1500s, but they successfully melded the two into a unique belief system that includes their beloved deer dancer.
Worldwide, the Yaquis may be best known for these men highly trained in an ancient religious ceremony in which the dancer wears a headdress depicting a deer's head and whose steps imitate movements of a deer.
The deer dancer is prominent in the Pascua Yaqui logo and Tribal symbol. The successful merger of ancient Yaqui traditions with Catholicism allows the deer dancer to remain a central feature of the spiritual lives of today's Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. Pascua is Spanish for Easter, and it is during the Easter season that the deer dancer is most prominent, participating in ceremonies that depict events of this holy period.
Flowers are important to the Yaquis' daily lives and ceremonies. They combine the ancient belief that the deer dancer is from a flower-filled spiritual world of natural beauty with the belief that Christ's grace is symbolized by flowers that grew from blood that fell from Jesus' wounds during the crucifixion. Flowers are believed to be powerful weapons against evil and are a prevailing symbol seen in elaborately embroidered floral designs on traditional Yaqui clothing.