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Southern surprise

This past weekend I found myself in the company of 17,000 people I never knew existed.

I was on a TV assignment that took me to the Casino Del Sol Resort on the Pascua Yaqui reservation, just south of Tucson. That’s how many tribal members there are — 17,000 — and I’m embarrassed to say it was the first time I had any contact with their culture, but for me, it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Their origins date back to a division of the Aztec people in Mexico. While there, the Jesuit missionaries introduced them to Catholicism, allowing them to incorporate their Yaqui rituals into the celebration of Catholic worship — the mass.

All of that brings us to a phenomenon in the worlds of business and hospitality.

As do most Christians, the Pascua Yaqui have a special reverence for Easter. That’s even what “Pascua” means: “Easter.” The tribe has successfully developed a 10-story resort hotel, casino, championship golf course, amphitheater and convention center, and every year, from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday, they close everything down out of respect for the true meaning of the holiday, at an estimated annual loss of $3 to $5 million dollars.

That’s putting your money where your faith is.

So, Pascua Yaqui people, next spring when I say, “Happy Easter,” I’ll be thinking of you.

I’m Pat McMahon.