The Zuni Tribe, like many other tribes, have a very complex creation tale which includes stories of the various clans during the migration phase, when they were all looking for the “middle place.” Groups travelled to the four cardinal directions and when they didn’t find what they were looking for, came back to the center. The group that went East found Idiwanna (the Middle Place) first, followed by the other wanderers in due time.
Today anthropologists have determined that the People who call themselves A:shiwi (Zuni Tribe) are actually composed of tribes from the four directions. They have a unique language, not related to any other, but a material culture that reflects a long association with the Hopis and the Acomas—friends, but not relatives.
When the Spaniards arrived in 1640 they were looking for the fabled seven cities of gold, tales of which had travelled far and wide. There was no precious metal, no gems no gleaming cities. But the myth persisted and the Zuni Tribe have lived under the oral tradition ever since, as explorers, writers, and anthropologists have tried to make the story “true”. All the same, Zunis were far from the Rio Grande in the days of foot and horse travel, and they escaped the fate of the Pueblos who had settled along the “Great River.” They have kept their religion, their language, and their culture into the twenty-first century, a unique feat among Native Americans. The Hopis place a close second. The Zuni Tribe refused to be Christianized, for the most part and keep traditional life and observance alive.
Pottery, weaving, basket making, doll carving, fetish making, and especially the several jewelry styles, each have a distinctive Zuni aesthetic and are highly collectable today.