Neither of us had ever heard of the Zuni people till we began to explore the opportunities that this drive from Santa Fe back to Los Angeles could offer. We discovered that it was one of the most intact Pueblo communities with over 11,000 people still living in the village.
Then we discovered that we could stay in the one and only guesthouse in town, so we promptly booked in for two nights. http://halona.com/ It was a wonderful place to stay – check out the website but we can’t describe the deliciousness of the blue corn pancakes!
We arrived late in the afternoon and found that that day a ceremony was coming to a close, that we had to respect the boundaries of the central plaza while it was completed. We did catch a glimpse of incredible costumes of feathers and turquoise as we found our way to the Inn. We were asked not to take any photos until the next day.
Despite being invaded by the Spanish and later the American settlers, the Zuni have managed to keep their sacred lore intact and known only to themselves. To this day only 1% of the people practice catholic rites which is remarkable considering the pressure to deny their heritage so evident in other communities.
We never did take many photos as, even as we walked the maze of streets amongst the old adobe dwellings, it felt like we would be sticking our camera right into their home.
They are a warm embracing, generous and gentle people and before long we found ourselves invited into homes and hearths. We shared many a belly laugh with the women as we shared stories of life and family.
With so little employment this community had embraced its creative cultural heritage and over 70% of the adult community are practicing artists – especially jewelry and fetishes – you can imagine Nettie was in 7th heaven.
There is so much more to to tell… After our two days it was really hard to leave and we drove away with many gifts, both as tangible as the loaf of Zuni bread baked by Sheryl’s mother and the Bear and Badger fetishes from Mandala, and as intangible as the friendship felt amongst strangers. We already long to return…