Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Zuni, who call themselves "A shiwi," are a pueblo Indian group located in the southwestern United States. The Zuni are primarily concentrated in the single village or pueblo of Zuni situated on a reservation in west-central New Mexico. Zuni social organization is characterized by matrilocal residence, matrilineal lineages and sibs, a complex religious organization featuring a series of cult groups, and in the late twentieth century, a secular government headed by a governor and tribal council.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

OWC Code


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Cultures collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The NT23 Zuni ethnographic collection consists of 33 documents, all in English. Historically the collection is oriented toward traditional Zuni ethnography represented in large part by the "classic" works of Stevenson (1904, no. 4), Cushing (1920, 1896, nos. 7 and 12), Kroeber (1917, no. 3), Parsons (1919, 1915, nos. 8 and 9), Bunzel (1932, 1932, nos. 5 and 6), and Woodbury (1979, no. 32). Additional information supplementing and updating the data found in the above mentioned works, are as follows. Information on the social and political organization of the Zuni will be found in Ladd, (1979, no. 21), Eggan (1995, no. 18), Eggan and Pandey (1979, no. 27, and Pandey (1977, no. 26). Kinship is discussed in Kroeber (1917, no. 3), Schneider (1956, no. 1), and Ladd (1979, no. 21). Agriculture is a major topic in Cushing (1920, no. 7), Bohrer (1960, no. 13), and Damp (2002, no. 17). Acculturation and culture change are topics of focus in McFeat (1960, no. 10), Leighton (1963, no. 14), Mills (2002, no. 24), and Eggan and Pandey (1979, no. 27). Other ethnographic subjects covered in this collection are:


, their role in the society and related ceremonials, in Bunzel (1932, 1932, nos. 5 and 6), Tedlock (1983, 1979, nos. 28 and 30); family and household in Kroeber (1917, no. 3), and Watts (1997, no. 31); ceramics in Hardin (1989, no. 19), and Mills (2000, no. 24). Two of the documents in this collection of particular interest are those of Wyaco (1998, no. 33), which is an autobiographical account by a Zuni of his growing up in the society, and Pandey (1972, no. 25), which is a critique of the various anthropologists working at Zuni over the years.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

A:shiwi - the Zuni people - use "TRIBE AND NATION (619)"

A:pilha:shiwani - bow priests - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)"

Aahalhikwi - witches - use "SORCERY (754)"

Ahayu:da - wooden images of the twin gods - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

Canes of office - use "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Councils - use "COMMUNITY COUNCILS (623)", sometimes with "PRIESTHOOD (793)"

Dowa Yalanne - the sacred mountain of the Zuni - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

Governor of Zuni Pueblo - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Halona:wa - the ancient name of Zuni Pueblo- use "PLACE NAMES (103)"

Indian Claims Commission - use "SPECIAL COURTS (698)" and/or "PUBLIC WELFARE (657)"

Kachina - a deified ancestral spirit; a masked kachina impersonator at ceremonies; a doll representing a kachina spirit - use "SPIRITS AND GODS (776)", and/or "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)", and/or "GAMES (524)"

Kachina society - use "SODALITIES (575)" and/or "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Kiva groups - use "SODALITIES (575)", sometimes with "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Kivas - ceremonial structures - use "RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURES (346)"

Medicine societies - use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)"

Pekwin - the Sun Priest - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)

Prayer sticks - use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)", with "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)"

Pueblo Revolt of 1680 - use "REVOLUTION (669)"

Repatriation of artifacts - use "EXTERNAL RELATIONS (648)"

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPA) - use "VOCATIONAL EDUCATION (874)"

Telnanne - a feathered staff used as a symbol of office - use "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)", with "PARAPHERNALIA (293)"

Teniente - local officials - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

This culture summary is from the article "Zuni" by Theodore R. Frisbie in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 1, North America, edited by Timothy O'Leary and David Levinson. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall &Co., 1991. The synopsis and indexing notes were added by John Beierle in April 2007. Population figures were updated by the editors in July 2008.

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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