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Zuni Indian Tribe

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The Zuni or Ashiwi are a Native American tribe, one of the Pueblo peoples, who live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River, a tributary of the Little Colorado River, in western New Mexico. Zuni is 55 km (35 miles) south of Gallup, New Mexico and has a population of about 6,000, nearly all Native Americans, with 43.0% of the population below the poverty line.

Zuni speak the Zuni language, a unique language which is unrelated to the languages of the other Pueblo peoples. The Zuni continue to practice their traditional shamanistic religion with its regular ceremonies and dances and an independent mythology.

The Zuni Tribal Fair and Rodeo is held the third weekend in August. The Zuni participate in the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial

The Zuni, like other Pueblo peoples, are believed to be the descendants of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples who lived in the desert Southwest of New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Colorado and Utah for a thousand years.

Archeological evidence shows they have lived in their present location for about 1300 years.

Before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Zuni lived in six different villages. After the revolt, until 1692, they took refuge in a defensible position atop Dowa Yalanne, a steep mesa 5 km (2 miles) southeast of the present Pueblo of Zuni. After the establishment of peace and the return of the Spanish, the Zuni relocated in their present location, only briefly returning to the mesa top in 1703.

Frank Hamilton Cushing, a pioneering anthropologist associated with the Smithsonian Institute, lived with the Zuni from 1879 to 1884. He was one of the first participant observers and an ethnologist.

A recent controversy involving Zuni is the proposed development of a coal mine near the Zuni Salt Lake, a site considered sacred by the Zuni although off their reservation. The mine will involve extraction of water from the aquifer feeding the lake as well as construction between the lake and Zuni

The Zuni were and are a peaceful, deeply traditional people who lived by irrigated agriculture and now by the sale of traditional crafts. Their location is relatively isolated, but they welcome tourists. Carved stone animal fetishes, jewelry, needlepoint, and pottery are popular items.

There is an old Spanish mission, Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, which is a popular attraction; and a tribal museum, A:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center.


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