The Zuni or A:shiwi are a Native American tribe, 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. Zuņi is 55 km (35 miles) south of Gallup, New Mexico and has a population of about 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. Many of the people do not consider their low income and lifestyle to be poverty They are known for their unique culture and cuisine.
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. The Zuni Tribal Fair and rodeo is held the third weekend in August. The Zuni also participate in the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial usually held in early or mid-August.
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, Southern Colorado and Utah for centuries. Archaeological evidence shows they have lived in their present location for about 1,300 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 (2 miles) southeast of the present Pueblo of Zuni. "Dowa" meaning "corn", and "yalanne" meaning "mountain." After the establishment of peace and the return of the Spanish, the Zuni relocated in their present location, only briefly returning to the mesa top in 1703.
In 1539, a Spanish exploratory party under the Moorish slave Estevanico arrived, though the villagers eventually killed him. This was Spain's first contact with any of the Pueblo peoples.
Frank Hamilton Cushing, a pioneering anthropologist associated with the Smithsonian Institution, lived with the Zuni from 1879 to 1884. He was one of the first participant observers and an ethnologist.
A controversy during early 2000s involved Zuni opposition to the development of a coal mine near the Zuni Salt Lake, a site considered sacred by the Zuni and under Zuni control. The mine would have extracted water from the aquiducts.