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The Zuni Indians Essay

Starting off this year I was pleasantly surprised with our English assignment on Native American tribes. Born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico “The Land of Enchantment” I have had a firsthand experience with Native Americans and their culture. For my English report I would like to take the opportunity to enlighten you about a more unique and obscure tribe that has developed throughout the years in the most innovative ways, the Zuni tribe. There are total of 565 Native American tribes in the United States, all with their own language and beliefs. Tribes like the Zuni are often not well known and, are over shadowed by more prominent tribes such as the Apache, Cherokee, or Navajo tribes. Background

The Zuni are one of the nineteen Pueblo Indian tribes who are descendants of the Ancient Puebloans. Their population exceeds no more than 20,000 people. Their tribal name is A’shiwi (Shi’wi), meaning “the flesh.” Zuni history is believed to be dated back before 2500 B.C. when they moved to the Southwest. It was during this time that they made their first attempts at agriculture and game hunting. Around 1500 B.C. their agriculture thrived enabling them to grow many more crops such maize and wheat. Throughout the decades the population grew and the tribe built plaza style villages that remain the homes of a minority ofIndians today. Beliefs

Religion is crucial to Zuni Indians. Their beliefs center around three metaphysical characters, the Earth Mother, Sun Father, and Moonlight-giving Mother. The sun is especially worshipped because it is considered a necessity of life. The Zuni words for sunlight and life is the same word. Sunrise is a very special and sacred time to Zuni Indians.Besides ceremoniesheld for honoring and thanking the metaphysical characters for health and natural forces, they had ceremonies yearly asking for help in fertility and rain. They all also had ceremonies to mark important life milestones such as birth, coming of age, marriage and death. Myths

Zuni mythology is the narrative history, cosmology, and religion of the Zuni people. They believe in myths that account for many natural occurrences and phenomena’s. For example they believe that a super natural being named
Awonawilona is the creator god. He made the sun and ocean, which was covered with green algae that hardened, split, and became Awitelin Tsta and Apoyan Tachi. Apoyan Tachi and Awitelin Tsta are the sky father and earth mother and the parents of all life on Earth. They also believe in other mythical beings such, Achiyalatopa, a monster with knives for feathers. Amitolane is a rainbow spirit.

Yanauluha is a culture hero, who brought agriculture, medicine and all the customs of the Zuni people, and Uhepono a hairy giant that lived in the underworld that had huge eyes and human limbs. In the creation of the Earth they believed the first humans came from four caves in the underworld. The Earth was a dangerous place, covered with water and monsters. The children of the sun took pity on mankind and hardened earth with lightning, then turned many animals into stone, leaving only the modern ones. Art

The Zuni are well known for their art. They have many traditional arts and crafts that have become major income for many Zuni Indians. Besides being great pottery makers, they were the first to make Native American jewelry. They use silver and many different stones such as Turquoise, Gaspeite, Opal, and many more. They also make rugs and dolls called Kachinas that were used in religious ceremonies. Zuni art is unique in comparison to other Native American art because, all of their arts tell stories of their beliefs and traditions. This is what makes the jewelry and other crafts the most popular among tourists. Modern day

Throughout history the Zuni have maintained their beliefs and customs. They are of the few advantageous tribes who have managed to keep their ways of life, unaffected by modern day changes, and continue to live in a territory for their ancestors. This can be credited to the fact that throughout history they did not take part in wars or conflict and, instead focused on the needs of their people. Even though I lived in New Mexico around Native Americans including the Zuni I never really knew or appreciated anything about them.

This assignment has enlightened me on the uniqueness of their culture, art, and tradition. I have to say the most thing I found fascinating was their art. I liked the fact that it had meaning and told unspoken stories. I finally understand why so many tourists that come to my dad’s Native American jewelry store are infatuated with all the art. Who knows? I might just end up buying a necklace or two myself!!!!!!!!

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