The Zuni

The Zuni is a group of Native Americans. They are one of the Pueblo peoples. Zuni people often call themselves the Ashiwi. Hundreds of years ago, they lived in a small region of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Today, about 10,000 Zuni still live in that area on the Zuni reservation in New Mexico.

Ancient Pueblo people built towns with large canyon homes in Colorado and New Mexico. Some had more than one hundred rooms. In the 1100s, the people began to leave these towns. By the mid-1200s, these places were completely deserted. It is not known why the people left. Some archaeologists think the climate became too dry to grow food. Others think war might have forced the ancient Pueblos to find safer homes. At any rate, some of the ancient Pueblos moved southwest and became the Zuni.

In some ways, modern Zuni still live as their ancestors did. If you go to the reservation, you will see many old-style adobe homes. You will also see modern-style homes of concrete blocks. Zuni earn money by making jewelry, pottery, clothing, baskets, and animal sculptures and by selling crops they grow. The Zuni language is still spoken. It is not related to any other language. Many Zuni can and do speak English. Zuni religion is still a part of daily life for most. For example, Zuni artists pray to the Earth Mother before digging clay for pottery making.

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