Last modified: 2017-08-23 by rick wyatt
Keywords: zuni | new mexico | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 1 February 2008
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Zuni - New Mexico
Today the Zuni of New Mexico occupy a reservation of 410,000 acres (NAA, 36-43) bordering Arizona. Traditionally they lived in seven pueblos along the banks of the Zuni River. As with other Pueblo Indians, the people built multi-story houses accessed by a series of interconnecting roof/patios and ladders. The Zuni differed from other Pueblo Indians in that their pueblos were made of stone and covered with plaster (ENAT, 261-263) rather than of adobe, a sun-dried brick.
Although agriculture remains the primary occupation of the Zuni , an increasing number devote themselves to the arts of silver smithing and stone-cutting. The Zuni , who number more than 7,000 (AID, 42), are one of the leading southwestern Tribes in the production of silver and turquoise jewelry (GAI, 114-115). They also craft fetishes, small carvings of animals that offer protection and knowledge.
© Donald Healy 2008
They celebrate this art on their tribal seal, which, when placed on a white field serves as the tribal flag (unsigned letter, 15 Feb. 1995).
The seal (provided by the Zuni Tribal Headquarters) is a gray circle topped by an elongated Kachina dancer with a rainbow arching between his chest and waist. Such dancers are involved in the rituals of the Indians of the Southwest, especially the Navajo, the Hopi, and the Zuni. Kachinas come in many visages, each bringing special meaning and powers. These dancers perform many different ceremonies, including those to bless a family's home, to seek a good harvest or to give thanks for one, to implore the Great Spirit for rain, and to heal the sick. While Kachina dancing is a very popular tourist attraction for many tribes, it retains its importance as a religious ritual.
The center of the seal shows a bowl bearing several fetishes and a necklace of fine Zuni silver work and turquoise. These items are below a pair of flat-topped mesas common to the lands of the Zuni. At the base of the seal are six dark blue four-pointed stars for the six members of the tribal council. The bottom border is a common stepped-design motif of southwestern Indians in red and recalls the shape of the traditional pueblo [see Santa Clara Pueblo]. GREAT SEAL OF THE ZUNI TRIBE appears above the central disk, while within it the phrase is repeated on an orange band in Zuni.
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 1 February 2008