|Loretta Lucero was born in northern Mexico in 1892. She married Luis Alvarez, a railroad worker, and they lived in Nogales for several years before moving to Tucson after World War I. Loretta had 14 children of her own and delivered many of the babies born in Tucson's Pascua Yaqui community. She also acted as midwife for women from other ethnic groups, assisting in childbirth until she was nearly 80 years old. Known and trusted as a very skilled practitioner, she used herbs and prenatal massage to deliver breech babies. Many times she received payment in kind for her work, including food and vegetables.
While she was raising her own children, Loretta's household had a steady stream of neighborhood youngsters, and everyone called her "Mama." Although she never attended school, she was fluent in both Yaqui and Spanish. A strong Catholic, she lived to the age of 104 and attributed her longevity to the grace of God.
Loretta Alvarez was an active member of the Old Pascua community and participated in Pascua Yaqui ceremonies. In the photo above, she is assisting with food preparation for a ceremonial dinner at Old Pascua Village. Visit the Old Pascua Village at 785 W. Sahuaro Street.
Loretta Lucero Alvarez - Courtesy of Arizona State Museum
Capilla San Ignacio de Loyola (church), Old Pascua - Courtesy of Pascua Neighborhood Center
Historical mural, multipurpose building in Old Pascua, by artist Bernabe Tapia - Courtesy of Pascua Neighborhood Center