The Zuni people have lived in what is now known as the Southwestern United States since prehistoric times. Today, most members of the tribe live in the Pueblo of Zuni in western New Mexico.
Zuni Pueblo is the largest population of the 19 New Mexican Pueblos with a population of more than 10,000 and 700 square miles of land along the Zuni River.
There are many Zuni symbols and meanings that play an important role in the cultural and spiritual life of the tribe. One of the most well-known is the Zia, which was first used as a sun symbol.
In the art world, the Zuni are known for producing beautiful multicolor jewelry using the inlay technique. Yet long before they began trading jewelry and working with sterling silver, the Zuni produced beautiful animal fetishes – small stone carvings in the shape on an animal.Here are some common Native American Indian symbols you may see incorporated in Zuni jewelry and art.
Bear: The bear symbol was adopted by multiple Southwest tribes. For the Zuni, it represents protection, strength and healing. The bear is also associated with courage and spirituality.
Mountain Lion: One of the most revered animals in Zuni culture, the tribe believes this animal to be the top hunter and a symbol of protection.
Badger: The Zuni believe badgers provide healing and protection due to their knowledge healing plants and guide medicine men in their quest to find herbs and roots for healing.
Coyote: The Zuni use coyote fetishes to assist them in hunting mountain sheep or rabbits. The coyote is also believed to be a trickster and arrogant being.
Zuni symbols and meanings include many other animals and symbols that play an important spiritual role in Zuni life.