Spotlight: Zuni Pueblo Maintains Traditional Lifestyle

By: Andrea Ramos

Located 150 miles outside of Albuquerque, NM, the tribal land of the Zuni Pueblo—which is the largest of the 19 Pueblos in the state—spreads across over 450,000 acres of picturesque land, assisting the Zuni people in continuing their significant language, farming, cultural, and religious traditions today.

Having lived in the southwestern part of the United States for over thousands of years, the Zuni people have developed deep cultural values that tie closely with their homeland, celebrating with annual events like: the Zuni Main St. Festival, Zuni Festival of Arts and Culture, and A:shiwi Doye:nakwe.

First “discovered” by Europeans in 1539, Zuni had minimal contact with the Spaniards during establishment in the region, due to their remote location running along the Rio Grande Valley. In 1680, the 19 Pueblos in New Mexico, including Zuni, joined together to revolt against the Spaniards. This would later be remembered as the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Fighting against the oppressive tactics of the Spaniards, they sought protection on Dowa Yalanne (Corn Mesa) mountain. It would take years to make peace with the Spaniards and form into a single Pueblo, located at Halon Idiwan’a, or what’s presently known as Zuni.

Today, the Zuni people have thrived and utilize their farming expertise, primarily raising wheat, maize, beans, and squash. The Zuni people’s traditions are commonly expressed through art with paintings, natural clay pottery, gem-stoned jewelry, and image carvings that are now collected globally.

Though NM is home to 19 Pueblos, each one has unique characteristics: creation stories, languages, and history. The Zuni consist of about 10,000 members and, whom, have longstanding traditions that are fixed in their bond with the forests, rivers, land, and mountains of NM’s mesas and valleys. Zuni life functions on a ceremonial and clan system, which is formed on ancestral beliefs, and according to their website, “helps unite the past with the present.”

For more information about Zuni and any of the 19 Pueblos, visit https://www.indianpueblo.org/

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