Introduction - Zuni IndiansThis section of Native American Indian Facts provides information on the Zuni Indian tribe. The Zuni, who are classified as Pueblo people, are one of many Southwest American Indian tribes. Most Zuni people live in an area called the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico which is on the Zuni River (a tributary of the Little Colorado River). This area encompasses approximately 450,000 acres 150 miles west of Albuquerque. Listed below are some interesting facts about the Zuni tribe including who they are, where they live, their history, and their culture.
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Zuni Indian Culture Facts
- It is believed the Zuni people have inhabited New Mexico for approximately 4000 years.
- The Zuni River Valley (in New Mexico and Arizona), is home to just 19 original tribes, one of which are the Zuni Indians.
- The Zuni people are known for their beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry which they started creating in the late 19th century.
- The word Pueblo comes from the Spanish settlers who, in the 1500's, encountered the Southwest Indians and called their towns pueblos.
- The Zuni people have largely remained self-contained, relying primarily on their people and avoiding outside influences. They are a tribe that has benefitted from remaining neutral, keeping to themselves and living in close proximity to one another. To this day, the Zuni Indians have greatly preserved their way of life.
- The Zuni are a very religious, peaceful and non-threatening tribe. Their lives revolve around a series of religious ceremonies to mark specific events throughout their lives. The four most significant celebrations in the Zuni's life are birth, coming of age for both boys and girls, marriage, and death.
- Zuni religion is centered around three main gods Earth Sun Father, Mother, and Moonlight-Giving Mother. There are numerous other spirits (katsinas) in their religion.
Facts about the Modern Day Zuni Indians
- Although the Zuni do have their own language and it is currently spoken by about 6000 people, almost all of the tribe members also speak English.
- Because of tourist interest in all forms of Zuni artwork, it has slowly replaced agriculture as the predominant form of income. It used to be primarily a woman's role to create pottery, but today more and more men are learning the trade. In fact, there are now more men than women in this role.
Zuni Fetish Carving Facts
- The Zuni tribe is well known for creating beautiful artwork including pottery, woven baskets, clothing, and jewelry. One especially popular form of art among the Zuni is small little carvings, mainly of animals, called fetishes.
- Fetish carvings are usually small sculptures made out of stone or other natural material. They are hand carved by one of about 300 Zuni carvers in a process that usually takes several hours to complete.
- Some people collect or seek out Zuni fetish carvings for its spiritual component. They believe these animal representations can offer special powers of protection, healing, and even luck with hunting. Other collectors of fetish carvings seek them out purely for their artistic value.