Zuñi Indians

Zuñi Indians. A Spanish adaptation of the Keresan Siinyyitsi, or Su’nyitsa of unknown meaning. Also spelled Juni. Synonyms are:

  • A’shiwi, own name, signifying “the flesh.”
  • Cibola, early Spanish rendering of A’swiwi.
  • La Purfsima de Zuni, mission name.
  • Nai-tĕ’-zi, Navaho name.
  • Narsh-tiz-a, Apache name.
  • Nashtezhĕ, Navaho name.
  • Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Zuni, mission name.
  • Saraí, Isleta and Sandia name of the pueblo; Saran, Isleta name of the people.
  • Saray, Tiwa name of the pueblo.
  • Sa’u’ú, Havasupai name.
  • Siete Ciudades de Cibola, or Seven Cities of Cibola.
  • Sŭ’nyitsa, Santa Ana name of the pueblo.
  • Sünyítsi, Laguna name.
  • Tâa Ashiwani, sacred name of tribe, signifying “corn peoples.”
  • Xaray, the Tiwa name.
  • Ze-gar-kin-a, given as Apache name.

Zuñi Connections. The Zuni constitute the Zunian linguistic stock.

Zuñi Location.— On the north bank of upper Zuni River, Valencia County.

Zuñi Pueblos

  • Halona Pueblo (extinct), on both sides of Zuni River, on and opposite the site of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Hampasawan Pueblo (extinct), 6 miles west of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Hawikuh Pueblo (extinct), about 15 miles southwest of Zuni Pueblo, near the summer village of Ojo Caliente.
  • Heshokta Pueblo (extinct), on a mesa about 5 miles northwest of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Heshota Ayathltona Pueblo (extinct), on the summit of Taaiyalana, or Seed Mountain, commonly called Thunder Mountain, about 4 miles southeast of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Heshota Hluptsina Pueblo (extinct), between the “gateway” and the summer village of Pescado, 7 miles east of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Heshota Imkoskwin Pueblo (extinct), near Tawyakwin, or Nutria.
  • Heshotapathltaie Pueblo, or Kintyel Pueblo, on Leroux Wash, about 23 miles north of Navaho Station, on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, Ariz.
  • Heshota Uhla Pueblo (extinct), at the base of a mesa on Zuni River, about 5 miles west of the summer village of Ojo Pescado, or Heshotatsina.
  • Kechipauan Pueblo (extinct), on a mesa east of Ojo Caliente, or Kyapkwainakwin, 15 miles southwest of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Kiakima Pueblo (extinct), at the southwestern base of Thunder Mountain, 4 miles south-east of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Kwakina Pueblo (extinct), 7 miles southwest of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Kwakinawan Pueblo (extinct), south-southeast of Thunder Mountain, which lies 4 miles east of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Matsaki Pueblo (extinct), near the northwestern base of Thunder Mountain and 3 miles east of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Nutria Pueblo, at the headwaters of an upper branch of Zuni River, about 23 miles north-east of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Ojo Caliente Pueblo, about 14 miles southwest of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Pescado Pueblo, about 15 miles east of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Pinawan Pueblo (extinct), about 1′ miles southwest of Zuni Pueblo, on the road to Ojo Caliente.
  • Shopakia Pueblo (extinct), 5 miles north of Zuni Pueblo.
  • Wimian Pueblo (extinct), 11 miles north of Zuni Pueblo.

Zuñi History

According to Cushing (1896), the Zuni are descended from two peoples, one of whom came originally from the north and was later joined by the second, from the west or southwest (from the country of the lower Colorado), who resembled the Yuman and Piman peoples in culture. Although indefinite rumors of an Indian province in the far north, containing seven cities, were afloat in Mexico soon after its conquest, the first definite information regarding the Zuni was supplied by Fray Marcos de Niza, who set out in 1539, with a Barbary Negro named Estevanico as guide, to explore the regions of the northwest. In the present Arizona he learned that Estevanico who, together with some of his Indian companions, had been sent on ahead, had been killed by the natives of “Cibola,” or Zuni. After approaching within sight of one of the Zuni pueblos, Fray Marcos returned to Mexico with such glowing accounts of the “Kingdom of Cibola” that the expedition of Francisco Vasquez do Coronado was fitted out the next year. The first Zuni Indians were encountered near the mouth of Zuni River, and the Spaniards later carried the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh by storm, but it was discovered that the Indians had already moved their women and children, together with the greater part of their property, to their stronghold on Taaiyalone Mesa. Thither the men also escaped. The invaders were bitterly disappointed in respect to the riches of the country, and, after the arrival of the main part of the army, they removed to the Rio Grande to go into winter quarters. Later, Coronado returned and subjugated the Zuni.

In 1580 the Zuni were visited by Francisco Sanchez Chamuscado, and in 1583 by Antonio de Espejo, the first to call them by the name they commonly bear. By this time one of the seven original pueblos had been abandoned. In 1598, the Zuni were visited by Juan de Onate, the colonizer of New Mexico. The first Zuni mission was established by the Franciscans at Hawikuh in 1629. In 1632 the Zuni murdered the missionaries and again fled to Taaiyalone Mesa, where they remained until 1635. On August 7, 1670, the Apache or Navaho raided Hawikuh, killed the missionary, and burned the church. The mission was not reestablished, and it is possible that the village itself was not rebuilt. In 1680 the Zuni occupied but three villages, excluding Hawikuh, the central mission being at Halona, on the site of the present Zuni pueblo. They took part in the great rebellion of 1680 and fled to Taaiyalone Mesa, where they remained until their reconquest by Vargas in 1692. From this time on the people were concentrated in the single village now known as Zuni, and a church was erected there in 1699. In 1703 they killed the missionary and again fled to their stronghold, returning in 1705. A garrison was maintained at Zuni for some years after this, and there were troubles with the Hopi, which were finally composed in 1713. The mission continued well into the nineteenth century, but the church was visited only occasionally by priests and gradually fell into ruins. In recent years the United States Government has built extensive irrigation works and established a large school, where the younger generation are being educated in the ways of civilization.

Zuñi Population. In 1630 the Zuni population was estimated at 10,000, probably much too high a figure; and in 1680, at 2,500. In 1760 it was given as 664; in 1788, 1,617; in 1797—98, 2,716; in 1805,1,470; in1871, 1,530; in 1889, 1,547; in 1910, 1,667; in 1923, 1,911; in 1930, 1,749;
in 1937, 2,080.

Connections in which the Zuñi have become noted. The Zuni have become widely known:

(1) from their association with the “Kingdom of Cibola”;
(2) from the size of the pueblo and the unique character of the language spoken there; and
(3) from the close study made of them by Cushing, Mrs. Stevenson, Kroeber, and others.

The name Zuni is borne by a detached range of mountains in the northwestern part of New Mexico. Besides Zuni post village in McKinley County, N. Mex., there is a place named Zuni in Isle of Wight County, Va.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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2 thoughts on “Zuñi Indians”

  1. Kathleen dunphy

    Trying to find a Zuni native name Rita Ponce
    Died 1920 of spanish flu. Married to Yisidro
    Najera. They had 3 daughters, named Guadeloupe, Ruby, and Rosita (b.1918). Any information would be appreciated.
    Thank you
    Kathleen Dunphy

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