Pueblo of Zuni

Besides the Navajo, the Zuni is a tribe of Native Americans who live in the southwest United States. They are one of the largest tribes in New Mexico, with a population of around 8,000. They are believed to be descendants of the ancient Pueblo People of the Rio Grande, who lived in the pueblos built by their ancestors on the high mesas and plateaus of northwest New Mexico and Arizona. The Zuni tribe is generally considered a part of the Hpap\ana confederacy that lived in New Mexico before being destroyed by Spanish settlers in 1680. However, there is some discrepancy as to whether they existed before that time.

A day in the life of Zuni
The Pueblo of Zuni

Highly interesting to visit: Pueblo of Zuni

The Zuni people have lived in their mountainous homeland for over 1500 years. They are a Cahuilla tribe, which means their ancestors lived in the foothills and valleys of the Colorado Plateau and adjacent to New Mexico’s Rio Grande valleys. Between about 1500 and 1750, members of the Zuni tribe migrated to what is now called Northern New Mexico around present-day Albuquerque, where they established three settlements with over 200 families each. Within 100 years, all three payments were destroyed by Spanish slavers and disease, with most survivors migrating south into present-day Arizona. A new group of Zuni people moved into New Mexico from 1,000 to 2,000 years ago. The Zuni was one of the first groups to come in contact with the Spanish due to their living close to areas that Spanish explorers were exploring.

The Zuni people were among the last groups of Native Americans to become Christian converts. It occurred after European contact when missionaries came into the area in the 19th century.

The Zuni Tribe Today

In modern times, the Zuni tribe comprises two main groups that live in two separate communities. The most well-known group is the one that has moved to its reservation in Arizona’s Navajo Reservation. There are believed to be around 2,000 people living on the reservation. The other Zuni people live in their traditional territory in New Mexico. This group of Zuni people has not migrated elsewhere and is still living in the same place where their ancestors lived. Currently, about 8,000 people live on the reservation of New Mexico’s Zuni tribe.

Geography: The leading community for New Mexico’s Zuni tribe is located at Zuñi Pueblo. It is a part of the larger Navajo Nation, which means there is a lot of interaction between the two communities. The main difference between the two groups is that the eight thousand Zuni tribe people living in New Mexico are on their reservation. The Zuni tribe people in Arizona live on a minor reservation but are still affiliated with their tribe. Here, they have the same rights and responsibilities as other Navajo tribe members. It also applies to the Zuni tribe people in New Mexico.

The central reservation for the Navajo Nation and Zuni tribe people is 160,000 acres of land. It is an area of more than 50 square miles. The eight thousand Zuni tribal members living on this land are spread out between the two central communities of Hotevilla and Zuñi Pueblo. The Zuni reservation comprises not just the two central communities but also several other areas. There are also some camps for the tribe’s young people, a nursing home, and a hospital on the reservation. Other facilities are scattered around the reservation area, including an art center, a school, and a post office.

Zuni – Religion, Culture, Government & Language

Religion: The Zuni tribe people belong to different religious groups. The leading group of Zuni people has all been raised in traditional ways to become Christians. These include Catholics and Protestants.

Culture: The Zuni tribe people live in a large community of about 2,000 people. It is their community located within the Navajo reservation in Arizona. There are also several other small Zuni communities scattered across the reservation.

Government: The Zuni tribe people living on New Mexico’s reservation and their Navajo counterparts have their own elected governments. They are run separately from the Navajo government.

Language: The Zuni tribe people living in New Mexico speak a different language than those living in Arizona. The tribes are related and share some words, but their tongues are other.

Dancing Zuni members in late 1890s
Dancing Zuni members, late 1890s

Zuni’s jewelry is known as some of the most important, representative, and sophisticated art objects in the Southwest. The first was to represent a person’s marital status who wore a wedding ring to show that they were married, and the second was to distinguish between clans and lineages by wearing a cast bracelet made of turquoise or silver. Turquoise beads and jewelry have been worn by several other Native American tribes, especially in their ceremonies and dances.