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The Zuni People: History & Culture
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The Zuni People: History & Culture

The southwestern Pueblo tribes include several different communities with each having its own unique history, customs, artistic traditions, and cultural practices. One of these Pueblo tribes is the A’shiwi, most commonly known today by the Spanish adaption of their name Zuni. The Zuni People have lived in their traditional tribal territories for over 1,300 years, and they are believed to be descendants of the Anasazi. Zuni jewelry, art, and traditional carving techniques are an integral part of Zuni society and culture, however, in order to truly connect with the pieces, it’s always good to learn more about the history and traditions from which such beautiful objects emerge from.

History of the Zuni People

The traditional territories of the Zuni People rest along the Zuni River close to fertile ground. The Zuni People used this to great abundance and developed a vibrant agricultural economy with the farming of squash, beans, and maize. During this time, the artistic traditions of crafting, pottery, and beadwork also developed, along with the Zuni jewelry traditions of silversmithing and beautiful stonework.

Conflict with European Settlers

Historically the Zuni People lived in large Pueblos in this area, and that is where they were located when they had their first introduction to European settlers in 1540. These settlers were Spanish conquistadors led by Francis Vasquez de Coronado and the introduction was not a peaceful one. The Zuni Pueblo was overtaken by Coronado, majorly disrupting trade and causing a devastating impact on the Zuni People. The introduction of disease and bloodshed brought on by European settlers led to the banding together of the Navajo, Apache, and Zuni tribes along with other Pueblo Peoples in 1680 with the Pueblo Revolt.

Zuni Spirituality & Culture

Similar to many different cultures across the globe, spirituality is a deep and complex part of Zuni history and culture. Zuni spirituality is focused on gods and spiritual beings which are said to reside in the surrounding environments of modern-day New Mexico and Arizona, and spiritual practices are rich with symbolism and mythology. Spiritual practices also involve shamans who are honored in the community for their wisdom and healing powers.

Get Zuni Jewelry&Turquoise Jewelry

Today, the Zuni People still occupy these traditional territories, however, their current economy heavily involves tourism and arts and cultural production like pottery and jewelry as opposed to agriculture. Zuni jewelry is still crafted in many of the traditional methods and is highly coveted across the U.S. for its beauty and intricacy. To learn more and see some amazing pieces of Zuni Jewelry, check out all we have to offer over at Palms Trading Company and let one of our personal shoppers help you find an amazing addition to your collection!