Old school and new school at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s new education center

One of the first things you notice at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s new education center is the wide gap in ages of the tribal members taking advantage of the services at the beautiful building. Whether you are walking through the Dr. Fernando Escalante Community Library, named for the creator of Yaqui orthography, or working on robotics in the Intel Computer Clubhouse, you see all ages working, laughing and learning.

The building, named Itom Mahtawa’ Apo in the Yaqui language, is an educational and cultural center for Yaqui tribal members living on the reservation in Tucson, AZ. The first floor has the Escalante Library that offers computer literacy training, Yaqui language training, free Wi-Fi, and of course lots of books.

Down the hall is the recording studio and Intel Computer Clubhouse. These two programs offer music composition, digital photography and editing. Intel Computer Clubhouses are designed to create a safe and creative out-of-school learning environment for young people in underserved communities. The clubhouse in Itom Mahtawa’ Apo is one of only two on a reservation.

On my recent visit, I captured some video of the traditional and modern activities happening at Itom Mahtawa’ Apo. The Escalante Library supervisor Amalia Reyes, a fluent Yaqui speaker, gave me a tour in Yaqui. In the video, she can be seen introducing Dr. Escalante, explaining the Yaqui word for computer, and showing the special collections section.


Down the hall, we found Ernesto Frias, also known as Trill, in the recording studio creating hip hop beats. In the video, Trill explains how he creates each track and how certain instruments can create triumphant emotions. Be on the lookout for more of Frias’ work, “Production by Trill,” and stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about the education programs offered at Itom Mahtawa’ Apo.

2 thoughts on “Old school and new school at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s new education center

  1. Hello my name is mary mora i live in the state of washington i am trying to locate some yaqui language material so i can learn the language my biological father was yaqui from nogales mexico both his parents were yaqui i really would like to learn the language and the history if you are able to help me with this i would greatly appreciate it i am willing to pay for necessary study items. thank You

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