Back to Native Culture
See Zuni History
Daily Life Most Zuñis live in the old pueblo, which has been rebuilt as single-story houses. There are also almost
1,000 houses in nearby settlements. Modern and traditional associations, such as the Lions Club, American
Legion, clans, kiva groups, priesthoods and medicine societies, school boards, and cattle, farm, and irrigation
associations all coexist at Zuñi.
The result is a modern but close and cohesive community in which heritage remains vital. Much of the
traditional religion, customs, social structure, and language remains intact.
Believed to number in the many thousands, the Zuni tribe only had 1500 members by 1879. It is believed to
have numbered as many as 4,100 members in the 1500's. Smallpox and measles is thought to have decimated
the tribe. There are 10,000 Zuni, and the tribal government estimates that 90 percent of them live at Zuni
Pueblo, making this tribe one of the most intact in existence. "The Zuni's complex social web seems to hold
people. Their religion and language provide a point of ethnic identity.
Zuñi (`Z n y or `Z n ), from the Spanish, is the name of both a people and a pueblo. This Pueblo’s original name
was Ashiwi, which might have meant “the ﬂesh."
The Zuñi village consisted of six pueblos along the north bank of the upper Zuni Indian River, in western New
Mexico, at least 800 years ago. It is presently in the same location.
In 1990, 7,073 Indians lived at Zuñi. Perhaps as many as 20,000 Indians lived there in 1500. Zuni Indian
language unlike that spoken at other Indian pueblos. Scientists speculate as to a possible link to the Penutian
Historical Information History Zuñis and their ancestors, the Mogollon and the Anasazi, and perhaps Mexican
Indians as well have lived in the Southwest for well over 2,000 years.
By the eleventh century, the “village of the great kiva,” near Zuñi, had been built. In the fourteenth and
ﬁfteenth centuries a large number of villages existed in the Zuni Valley. By 1650 the number of Zuñi villages
had shrunk to six.
Water rights cases remain ongoing, as does planning for economic development. Legal Status Zuñi Pueblo is a
federally recognized tribal entity.
Shalako, celebrating in late fall the connections between modern Zuñis and the spirits of their
ancestors, remains a major ceremony. Races are still held between clans and ceremonial groups. An arts and
crafts fair is held in mid-May.
Bunzel, R.R. The Zuni: Southwest American Indians. 2008.
Wyaco, V. A Zuni Life: A Pueblo Indian in Two Worlds. 1998.