indian jewelry
                    Zuni Indian History
                    Back to Zuni Culture

                    Zuni was among the first of the Pueblos to attract the attention of Anglo-American outsiders, including the
                    first expedition of the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1879, subsequent expeditions in 1881 and 1884, and the
                    Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition in 1888-1889.  Many of the best-known anthropologists and
                    archaeologists in the Southwest conducted fieldwork at Zuni, including James Stevenson, Matilda Coxe
                    Stevenson, Frank Hamilton Cushing, Elsie Clews Parsons, Ruth Bunzel, Ruth Benedict, Frederick Webb Hodge, and
                    Alfred Kroeber, who described the history, arts, folklore, and religious practices of the Pueblo Peoples from
                    their writings.

                    For hundreds of years, the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico has been known for the beauty of its arts, the complexity
                    of religious beliefs, and the efficacy of its rituals, not only to outside world, but to the other native peoples of
                    the west as well. In terms of its arts, the Pueblo's pottery designs, its kachinas or spirit beings (known at Zuni
                    as (oko.kwe), and its carved animal fetishes have been influential sources of artistic inspiration for many tribes
                    in the area, especially for the Hopi.

                    The natural Zuni style and the historical and artistic context of its influence provide a fascinating insight into
                    the artistic processes and cultural interactions in the Southwest.  The Zuni Pueblo is located 39 miles
                    southwest of Gallup, on banks of the Zuni River, a tributary of the Little Colorado.

                    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, outside interest focused on Zuni ceramics and the carving
                    of animal fetishes. Today, silversmithing is of primary economic importance to the Pueblo. Although never
                    completely abandoned, a re-surgence in pottery making has occurred in the 1980s.  Zuni ceramics long have been
                    known among the Pueblos and have been widely traded. Water jars, dough bowls, and stew bowls have been the
                    forms most commonly handcrafted pottery.  

                    At Right: Kiapkwa Polychrome Pottery

                    Pieces made from 1760 to 1850 were crafted in the style known a Kiapkwa Polychrome. Finely hatched geometric
                    designs were painted in two zones, one around the neck of the jar and the second covering the body. The most
                    characteristic motif was the crooked spiral, which appears to be from prehistoric image of a highly stylized bird
                    head and beak.

                    The design has been called “rainbird,” but Zuni potters have described it as representing a drumstick used in
                    rain-bringing ceremonies or as a cumulus cloud which brings rain to the Pueblo.  The pottery made by the Hopi at
                    First Mesa in the late 18th and 19th centuries were influenced by this Zuni style. There was continuous contact
                    between the tribes at this time.

                    However, an outbreak of small pox at First Mesa from 1853 to 1854, was followed by a series of droughts and
                    widespread starvation from 1864 to 1866. Another outbreak of smallpox at the Hopi Second Mesa from 1866 to
                    1867 caused many Hopi to flee to the Zuni tribal area where the Hopi picked up many cultural and artistic
                    influences.  Copyright 20012.

                    Photo at right: 1873 on the Zuni Reservation


                    Bunzel, R.R. The Zuni: Southwest American Indians. 2008.
                    Wyaco, V. A Zuni Life: A Pueblo Indian in Two Worlds. 1998.
                  The general Zuni area has been
                  inhabited from about 700. At the time
                  of Spanish contact in 1540, Zuni
                  consisted of the main Pueblo of
                  Halona:wa and the five additional s of
                  Hawikuh, Kiakima, Matsaki, Kwakina, and
                  Kechi. Following the events of the
                  Pueblo Revolt in 1680 and Spanish "reconquest" in 1692, the Zuni abandoned these towns and consolidated their population at Halona:wa which today is known to the outside world as Zuni Pueblo.