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El Centro's Capstone Program - Indians of North America at the Dallas Museum of Art

El Centro College's
History Department

Outlines of Class Discussion: Hopi and Zuni

A Presentation for El Centro's Capstone Program

To Capstone Program Main Page - Links

Outline of Class Discussion: The Hopi and Zuni Peoples

I. Zuni, Hopi, and Pueblos are generally grouped together even though differences. (See Cochise, Hohokam, and Mogollon Page and Ancient Pueblos Page for background.)

II.Today, there are approximately 50,000 Puebloan peoples. The richness of their prehistory has been preserved to some extent through oral traditions.

A. Not surprising, the sun has been important to the peoples of the Southwest. The Sun is the most powerful deity among Pueblos although they have a large pantheon of Gods. Even today, the Zuni face the sun each morning and offer a pinch of cornmeal while reciting a prayer. The Pueblo calendar is sun-based, and the sun appears often in art. The New Mexico state flag is the Zia Pueblo sun symbol (although the Zia people are not all that happy about this.)

B. Other astronomical objects are also common in artwork including the well-known Supernova. The image of the plumed serpent also appeared by the 13th century.

C. Creation stories are less important that emergence from the underworlds and the subsequent search for their place in the world. Stories differ from Pueblo to Pueblo. In most, there are four underworlds and one above world that represents the present and place - the "Center" or "Middle Place." That is the proper place. There is peace and stability, very important values. In Zuni myth, the Water-Skate determined the "Center" with legs stretched in four solstice directions.

D. At some point, so-called "cults" developed. Among the Zuni, for example, there is the cult of ancestors or "gone-aways" in which every Zuni participates. Others include the cult of Sun, cult of Uwanami (rainmakers), cult of Kachinas (or Katcinas) which is the most popular and pervsive, cult of priest of Katcinas, cult of War Gods, cult of Beast Gods which is 12 medicine societies or curing fraternities. There are over 100 katcinas impersonated by masked dancers. The cults overlap and are interwoven making them intricate and baffling to outsiders.

III. The best way to understand Zuni and Hopi culture is to read some of their mythology which is included in the links above.

IV. It is also important to note that they do not want their photos taken. They consider this a privacy issue.

V. Zuni Specifics

A. Zuni cling tenaciously to the ancient rituals
B. Zuni have been exposed to stronger acculturative influences than have the Hopi yet have preserved the core of their culture
C. Zuni first of the Southwestern pueblos to be sighted by Europeans - by 1539 the number os Zuni villages had been reduced to six
D. Spaniards were tempted by rumors filtering into Mexico of the reputedly large and fabulously wealthy "Seven Cities of Cibola"
E. 1539 - Esteban (Estevanico) and friar Marcos de Niza met Zuni - Estevanico killed there
F. 1540 - Coronado organized stronger expedition but by then Zuni had moved women, children, most possessions to summit of Corn Mountain
G. Series of Spanish visitors
H. First mission established by Franciscans at Hawikuh in 1629
I. 1632 killed missionary and fled again to Corn Mountain
J. 1680 - Zuni joined general Pueblo Rebellion, only time known in history that the autonomous pueblo villages acted in unison
K. 1693 - Spanish returned to continue to exploit, subjugate the pueblo peoples and reestablish control
L. 1699 - New ission build but Indians continued to resist conversion
M. 1703 - Another uprising; Spanish garrison at Zuni for some years
N. But persistent reistence to Chritianization; strong suspicion and distrust of the Mexicans as well as Spaniards
O. At first cordial to Anglo-Americans but hostility increased during the following years
P. Missionary influence was never as strong at Zuni as among the Rio Grande Pueblos and much of the ancient Zuni culture persists, although with certain important modifications
Q. Aboriginal Zuni subsistence depended on dry farming supplemented from available plants; principal native crops included six colors of hardy, deep-rooted corn, well suited conditions; also beans, squash; obtained cotton from Hopi
R. Developed numerous ingenious agricultural techniques to utilize all available sources of water

1. Men till the fields and do most of the work cooperatively by all the men of a household
2. Fields belong to matrilineal households or to individual males; planting in May using a digging stick
3. Although the men have done most of the agricultural labor, the crop is considered the collective property of all the women of the Zuni household; inherited by the daughters
4. The Zuni maintain, in contrast to the Hopi, that the land wa never owned by the clans
5. Women own and tend the small "waffle gardens"
6. Women also own fruit trees, especially the peach, which was acquired from the Spaniards; owned apart from the land on which they stand which may belong to someone else

S. Hunting and gathering are of slight importance today although they were of more significance in the past; rabbits are hunted mainly for the fun of it
T. Like many Southwestern Indians, the Zuni have taboo on eating fish
U. Domesticated dog - not eaten; domesticated turkey raised for feathers
V. Sheepherding important, brought by Spanish, owned by the men
W. Zuni foods varied including stews, corn bread a specialty of women (cornmeal bread - he'we; resembles Hopi piki bread
X. Salt important ceremonially was obtained on annual journeys to a sacred lake 42 miles from Zuni and also traded to Hopi
Y. The Zuni village:

1. Formerly a compact village of multistoried apartment houses of the traditional Pueblo type
2. To five stories and irregularly grouped around plazas but few more than two stories
3. Doors so low and small that in many cases is was difficult to squeeze through them
4. Small windows covered with semitranslucent slabs of selenite during Spanish period
5. Men do the heavy construction work
6. Average Zuni house today is one story constructed of cut stone and adobe
7. Small niches in the walls for cupboards
8. Dome-shaped ovens of Mexican derivation
9. At Zuni there are six kivas, not underground
Z. Arts/Crafts:

1. Formerly the Zuni men were expert weavers in both wool and cotton but today trade for with Hopi
2. Basketry also lost art also purchased today from Hopi (ony Pueblo Indians making decorative baskets today) and Apache
3. Zuni pottery almost passed into oblivion, attractive, coiling technique; typically a polychrome ware (red and black on chalky-white slip; bold designs depicting mountains, clouds, birds, squash blossoms, animals, lifeline or breathline of the animal
4. Beadwork has become important in the recent times and has displaced pottery making in the last 25 years
5. Silverwork is today the chief craft among the Zuni who make more silver jewelry than all the other Pueblo combined; not an ancient art, learned in the 1870s from Navajo; but Zuni distinctive; tiny turquoise sets in the silver more delicate than the jewelry of the Navajo; great variety of pieces; inlay work of turquoise, onyx, shell outstanding; two of favorite designs Knife-Wing and sacred Dragonfly
6. Since the 1920s the commercialization of Zuni silverworking has resulted in a type of economic revolution
7. Zuni women have become silversmiths and others help their husbands particularly with the delicate inlay work

AA. The "manta" = traditional dress of the Zuni woman is a knee-length one-piece gown of black, diagonal cloth, embroidered in dark blue at the top and bottom; fastened over the right shoulder, leaving the left shoulder bare; presently worn mainly on ceremonial occasions; also may wear a white Hopi robe more commonly wear cotton skirts and blouses with white apron and flowered shawl covering the head and falling to the hips; hard-soled buckskin moccasins; above which are wrapped stiff leggings of white doeskin reaching to the knees; Zuni maidens like the Hopi girls formerly wore their hair in immense whorls over each ear symboling the squash blossom while older women et their long hair hang in two braids; a woman never goes outdoors without wearing her "pitoni," a square of silk or cloth tied in frong and hangs across the back and shoulders
BB. Tribal organization at Zuni is stronger and more cohesive than Hopi; may be termed a theocracy inasmuch as what governmental authority exists is centralized in a council composed of three members of the principal priesthood and the heads of three other priesthoods
CC. There is a secular government, a tribal council; conduct relations with U.S. and other outsiders; control is still ultimately in the hands of the council of priests; secular offices little prestige and not sought after
DD. Noncompetitive ethos
EE. Household - extended family of which the core is the matrilineage
FF. Women own the houses
GG. Zuni clan not quite so strong an institution as that of the Hopi

1. Today there are 13 matrilineal clans; no political functions; do play important part in marriage regulations
2. each clan has a fetish; some subclans

HH. Life Cycle:

1. Crisis rites of the life cycle rather weakly developed
2. Considered matters of concern to the individual rather than to the community as a whole
3. Children treated with kindness and little physical restraint; rarely physical punishment but shaming is strongly used as sanction against nonconformity; frightened - owls, bogey katcinas, witches, Navajo
4. True puberty rites lacking although inititation of boys into Katcina cult
5. Unlike Hopi, Zuni girls not ordinarily initiated into the Katcina society
6. Marriage attracts little public attention; prohibited within own clan; strictly monogamous; divorce simple
7. Death and illness attributed to witchcraft; fear of ghosts; simple funeral rites

II. Religion

1. Zuni culture is functionally integrated by the native religion
2. Every Zuni participates in the cult of the ancestors
3. Six specialized, esoteric cults (Sun, Uwanami or "Rainmakers", Katcinas, Priest of the Katcinas, War Gods, Beast Gods
4. Ancestor Cult (alacinawe) plays a part in every ceremony and in the worship of all the other cults; ancestors are beneficent beings; the "gone-aways"
5. Other cults more restrictived membership
6. Cult of the Sun is an important and sacred one
7. Katcinas the most vital, pervasive, and popular cult at Zuni; all males are initiated into the Katcina society as well as a few women

a. In Zuni belief, the first Katcinas were children who were lost long ago while fording a stream and were transformed into beautiful and happy beings now living beneath the surface of the Whispering Waters, the Sacred Lake
b. More than a hundred Katcinas
c. Elaborate masks treated with utmost reverence and are individually owned made of leather, painted and adorned with feathers, resemble helmets of inverted buckets covering the entire head and resting on the shoulders
d. Contain divine substand, burned at the death of the owners; when dancer wears believed to become transformed into the Katcina for the time being
e. The Katcina Priests - one group the Koyemshi or Mudheads - sacred clowns - greatly respected as well as feared

6. The Zuni are peaceably inclined although will defend themselves vigorously
7. The Zuni world is pervaded by a sense of human oneness with the universe; little interest in cosmology or metaphysical concepts - world animate, spiritual essence; no antithesis between good and evil; the universe muste be maintained as a harmonious whole
8. One of the most thoroughly religious peoples in the world; few weeks of the year devoid of ceremonies; Zuni life is oriented around religious observancs
9. Ceremonies place a high value on inoffensiveness and sobriety; disapprove of aggressiveness and qualities of leadership (suspect as a witch - the worst thing can call someone)
10. Individualistic qualities are held in low esteem; reist distasteful and disruptive foreign influences