Native American Tribes – Zuni

Zuni Cluster Pin PendantsZuni is the popular name of a Pueblo Indian tribe that now live in western New Mexico. The word “pueblo” has many meanings and does not refer to a particular tribe. It can mean people, race, nation, town, or village. It is said Zunis are direct descendants of the Anasazi who first inhabited the area 1300 years ago.

The Zuni Indian reservation is about 150 miles west of Albuquerque. It comprises 450,000 acres of land and is surrounded by the Painted Cliffs, the Zuni Mountains and the Cibola National Forest. The largest town on the reservation is Zuni Pueblo.

Zuni Fetish CarvingsThe Zuni speak a unique language, Zunian, and, to this day, maintain a somewhat isolated community life. Religion is of deep significance to Zuni life and many Zuni artifacts relate to religious ceremonies and prayers for rain, fertile soil, abundant harvest and life’s marker event.

Zuni Fetish NecklacesThe Zuni are known for their beautiful hand carved fetishes, jewelry (particularly stone inlay), needlepoint, artwork and pottery.

4 thoughts on “Native American Tribes – Zuni

  1. I once went to Zuni Pueblo for the Shalako dance, a Kachina dance to bless new houses. This experience is on my list of Top Ten Life Experiences. It was amazing, almost beyond words.

    If anyone is ever in the vicinity of Zuni Pueblo in December, this is an experience not to be missed. All are welcome. In fact, visitors are thought to be essential to the ceremony.


  2. Yes, they did look like that! They had long, beak-like mouth parts. Each new house was being blessed, and the visitors stood outside, watching through large glass panes. The dancers’ headdresses were exceptionally high, so high that special trenches had been dug into the earthen floor to accommodate their height. As I was watching, one of the dancers came right up to me and snapped his bill at me, inches away from my face (with the glass pane between us). The hair on the back of my neck stood up! It was like a seeing an other-worldly creature face-to-face.

    After the blessing of each new house, the visitors were invited inside to eat mutton stew. The blessing and eating took place between midnight and the wee hours of the morning. It was very cold — below freezing — and required determination on my part to keep going from house to house, as tired and cold as I was. I would not have missed this for anything.

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