Zuni Pueblo

Introduction to the Zuni Pueblo

ZUNI A:Shiwi.The Middle Anthill of the World



The Zuni people have inhabited this northwestern portion of New Mexico for nearly a thousand years. Over the centuries, many other cultures have come to Zuni, made an impact, and gone. Yet the Zunis remain. The land where they live today is the same they inhabited for centuries.

The pueblos of Zuni were the "Seven Cities of Gold" (Cibola) so earnestly sought by Coronado and other conquistadors. Farming abounded. Villages thrived. Trade with other Indian societies flourished. The Zuni animistic religion permeated all aspects of tribal society and culture. Over subsequent decades, the Spanish brought new agricultural methods that are still visible in the now idle orchards and irrigation systems. The Zunis became accomplished artisans whose jewelry, carvings and pottery have become known internationally and remain the Pueblo's major economic base.

Then came the influences of Western society: first the pioneers; then the military, missionaries, traders, settlers, and government officials. While modernization has undermined the traditional agrarian lifestyle and social structures, it has also brought many positive changes to Zuni: a reliable water system, electricity, modern telecommunications as well as up-to-date educational, transportation, and medical services. Under the leadership of the elected Zuni Tribal Council, the Pueblo directs its own affairs and provides its members with a variety of public services.

Throughout centuries of change, Zuni has maintained its rich cultural heritage. The Zuni Pueblo and Reservation is located in this still-isolated high plateau country 40 miles south of Gallup, New Mexico. The Zuni language is still spoken alongside the English which is used in education, media, and commerce. Zuni traditional religion is still practiced in the Pueblo and throughout the year, religious ceremonies remain an integral and important part of life.

Zuni Pueblo View

Although Zuni has a rich cultural heritage, like communities in many places, the Pueblo struggles to live as a healthy community. Tribal authorities are acutely aware of the devastating effects of alcoholism and diabetes on families. Poverty, broken families, suicide, and limited economic opportunities are also facts of life in modern day Zuni. The growing number of Zuni Christians is deeply convinced that spiritual solutions are fundamental to restoration and rejuvenation. Indeed the Gospel message offers life-giving hope to the people of Zuni.