Zuni - Settlements

The original area used by the Zuni contains sites indicating Paleo-Indian occupation dating approximately 10000 to 6000 B.C. The Archaic period follows with more numerous sites reflecting a foraging way of life. The introduction of maize from Mexico in 1500 B.C. eventually resulted in a shift from foraging to horticulture. The traditional ancestral Zuni area embraces both Mogollon and Basketmaker-Pueblo (Anasazi) developments, beginning about A.D. 200. At this time, villages of several pit-structures, the introduction of ceramics, and greater dependence on maize are noteworthy. Population and site frequency increased through time. Within the Zuni River drainage proper, painted ceramics developed about A.D. 700, and by 1000, above-ground masonry pueblos appeared. From about 1000 to 1150, the area was incorporated into the Chacoan system centering in Chaco Canyon to the north, with numerous outliers reflecting well-planned masonry structures featuring Great Kivas (one can see, at Zuni, the Village of the Great Kivas and other sites). With the collapse of the Chacoan system, the ancestral Zuni began to build larger, aggregated pueblos, often with over a thousand rooms. Irrigation to ensure crop production probably began at this time. At Spanish contact the Zuni resided in six pueblos along a twenty-five-mile section of the Zuni River. One of the sites, Halona:wa, is present-day Zuni.

Following reconquest, the present Zuni was the focus for Zuni life and culture, but a number of seasonally occupied sites were constructed and used in the central area early in the seventeenth century. These villages were associated with farming and peach orchards; they were also outposts for grazing livestock and places where religious ceremonies could be held without Spanish interference. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, after Navajo and Apache raiding ceased, farming villages were established at Nutria, Pescado, and Ojo Caliente where excellent springs for irrigation exist. These villages, though largely in ruin, continue to be occupied, as does Tekapo, founded early in the twentieth century at the terminal point of an irrigation canal associated with Blackrock Dam on the Zuni River.

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