The Zuni or A:shiwi (as the Zuni refer to themselves, in their own language) are one of the Pueblo peoples, most of whom live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River, a tributary of the Little Colorado River, in western New Mexico, United States.
According to the 2000 Census, there were approximately 7,790 people in the zip code of the Zuni reservation, with 7619 living in either the statistical areas of Zuni or Blackrock. Tribal estimates for the entire reservation run from 10,000 to 12,000. with over 80% being Native Americans, with 43.0% of the population below the poverty line as defined by the U.S. income standards.
The Zuni, like other Pueblo peoples, are believed to be the descendants of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples who lived in the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and southern Colorado for centuries. Archaeological evidence shows they have lived in their present location for about 1300 years. However, before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Zuni lived in six different villages. After the revolt, until 1692, they took refuge in a defensible position atop Dowa Yalanne, a steep mesa 5 km (3.1miles) southeast of the present Pueblo of Zuni; “Dowa” means “corn”, and “yalanne” means “mountain.” After the establishment of peace and the return of the Spanish, the Zuni relocated to their present location, only briefly returning to the mesa top in 1703.
In 1539, a Spanish exploratory party guided by the Moorish slave Estevanico arrived, though the villagers eventually killed him. This was Spain’s first contact with any of the Pueblo peoples.
Zuni traditionally speak the Zuni language, a unique language (also called an “isolate”) which is unrelated to any other Native American language. The Zuni continue to practice their traditional religion with its regular ceremonies and dances and an independent and unique belief system.