Cultural Resources Management at the Pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico, USA
Anyon, Roger, Ferguson, T. J., Antiquity
As once-colonial countries recognize the special claim of indigenous peoples to their own history, so archaeology is becoming more a partnership between researcher and community. The next step, of indigenous people directing their own archaeology, was taken long ago by the Zuni people of New Mexico, in a programme that is an example and model for others. The authors have worked in the Zuni programmes for over 15 years.
The Pueblo of Zuni is one of a growing number of Indian Tribes in the United States that employ archaeologists and anthropologists in tribal programmes to manage cultural resources (Klesert & Downer 1990). Originally instituted as a straightforward response to Federal legislation mandating the preservation of archaeological sites and other historic properties, the Zuni programme has developed according to the needs of the Pueblo of Zuni over its 20 years' operation.
The Pueblo of Zuni is a Federally recognized Indian Tribe with a Reservation consisting of four tracts of Federal trust land in New Mexico and Arizona (Figure 1). The main body, established by presidential order in 1877, borders the state line in west central New Mexico, and today includes 164,729 ha.
The Zuni people and their ancestors have resided in the Zuni and Little Colorado River valleys for more than 2000 years. This occupation generated a rich archaeological record encompassing thousands of archaeological sites ranging from sparse sherd and lithic scatters to large pueblo ruins with more than a thousand rooms (Spier 1917; Kintigh 1985). In 1846, when the USA took possession of what is now New Mexico and Arizona from the Republic of Mexico, the Zuni Indians had an aboriginal land-base of 6,000,000 ha, extending from alpine and conifer-forested high mountain peaks to grassland and desert-scrub along the Little Colorado River (Ferguson & Hart 1985:5-57). It included numerous sacred areas, as well as areas where wild plants and animals were harvested, resources critically important in supplementing Zuni agricultural economy, a low annual precipitation often results in crop failure. Today, the lands owned by the Zuni Tribe constitute about 3% of its aboriginal land-base.
The present population of Zuni Pueblo is about 10,000 slightly higher than it was in 1540 during the first Spanish Entrada into New Mexico. In the intervening centuries the Zuni population suffered cyclical declines, falling to as low as 1300 before rebounding in the 20th century. Today all of the Zuni settlements are located on the main Reservation. Zuni Pueblo, the principal town, was founded c. AD 1350. Other settlements include outlying, seasonally used farming villages at Ojo Caliente, Pescado, Nutria, and Tekapo (Figure 1), and numerous `sheep camps' and cattle ranches. The Zuni Tribe is governed by a democratically elected Tribal Council; traditional religious leaders still command great respect and authority.
Cultural resource management:
Cultural resources management (CRM) in the USA is conducted under a patchwork of legal and regulatory mandates promulgated by people educated, working, and living within a Euro-American cultural milieu - rather than being informed by Zuni values. The differing cultural views of archaeological sites and of human burials are instructive.
As viewed by archaeologists, and enshrined in Federal regulatory language, archaeological sites are valued for their potential to inform about the past, sites are abandoned inanimate things from which information can be extracted. As viewed by Zunis, archaeological sites are an essential link to the land, their ancestors, their culture and traditions: sites embody life forces. Religious offerings made when sites were established and lived in, and when they were left during the Tribe's migrations, still have power and significance in present-day Zuni religion. Zunis have no concept of sites having been abandoned. …