CHAPTER XV. THE ZUNI AND MOQUI—THE MODEL AMERICAN INDIAN...


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER XIV. THE INDIAN—THE PIMO, THE MARICOPA, THE PAPAGO, THE ZUNI, THE MOQUI... Next: CHAPTER XVI. THE MOQUI AND ZUNI CONTINUED—THEIR DRESS...


[page 239]

THE ZUNI AND MOQUI—THE MODEL AMERICAN INDIAN—THEIR VILLAGES—MODES OF LIFE—MORALS—REBECCA AT THE WELL—GAMES AND PASTIMES—A SACRED RITE—SHREWDNESS—HOSPITALITY.

ALTHOUGH not existing wholly in Arizona, the proximity of the Zuni and Moqui villages and its people, the Territory together with its associate interests, prevent us from passing this wonderful people unnoticed.

The old tribe of the Zuni inhabit a region extending on both sides of the line between Arizona and New Mexico. They are destined to prove, or, perhaps, are the most interesting of all our aborigines, probably on account of our ignorance of them. The habitation of these people comprise seven cities—three of which are known as the Moqui villages, and are in Arizona. The main Pueblo or village is situated in the fertile and picturesque Zuni valley.

The first and leading feature in a visit to rids people is their village, or the system under which they exist as a community. The whole tribe of the Zuni, which


[page 240]

in '76, numbered about three thousand people, live in one settlement. Their houses are not detached as in ordinary cities, but are a system of houses massed together in one grand structure, in the following manner. An elevated section of country which overlooks the surrounding lowlands and valleys, is selected. A position on this elevation, where portions of it gives a slope of perhaps 45° or more, is also chosen. Up this incline, the houses, or the sections of the one grand house, are built—the one over-lapping the previous one to about a quarter or a third of its area. The one in the Zuni valley is six stories high, commencing at the first house, or at the bottom of the hill, you approach by a ladder, to the top of that house, and there you find the entrance (or the front door) of that house, in the place where the skylight of an American house is situated. From the roof of this house you approach the same way, by the ladder, the top of the succeeding house, or section of the great house, and proceed to enter it as you did the previous one. So this system is carried on throughout this communal condition of life. The size of the whole may be comprehended when we say it covers twelve acres. The second leading feature is the type of some of the subjects. A few have nearly white hair, resembling generally what is termed an English tow-head. It is only occasionally you will see one; and whether these are a


[page 241]

MI-SHONG-I-NI-VI.—A VILLAGE OF THE MOQUIS IN NORTH-EASTERN PART OF ARIZONA.


[page 243]

phenomena in the one race, or a remnant of another, is as yet, a query to the ethnologist. Also, specimens will be found exhibiting pink or blue eyes. Both of these classes are however, rare. In the absence of any method of chronicling events being found among them, they afford ample scope for the culture of the historian. Where they came from is as anxious an inquiry of the ethnologist as the question ‘‘Where are they destined to go to?’’ is with the psychologist or religionist. It is supposed that the style of dwellings is the result of necessary protection of by-gone times. Whether Cortes and his allies; whether more subsequently, the treacherous Mexican desperado of which at no distant day this country, was infested, perhaps either of these could best tell us, or whether the unmerciful persecutions of a more formidable tribe of Indians, is a question perhaps the ancestors of the warlike Apachè of Arizona could answer. I am of the opinion it was some condition of the latter. All the region of country included within the limits of New Mexico and Arizona already traveled over or explored, brings to the surface new evidences of persecution, annihilation or submission.

One body of ruins covering an area of many acres on the east side of the Colorado, between Yuma (Arizona City) and Ehrenberg, exhibit one of these interesting sections, where nothing remains to trace the


[page 244]

origin, duration or occupation. Whether it was an extensive camp of permanent miners who were murdered by Indians, or ransacked or annihilated by outlaws, is likely to remain a secret. In the absence of positive knowledge we are apt to concede it to the rapacity of the more fierce and warlike Apachés.

Although void of any system of chronicling events, like all the Indians of our West, the Zuni are in all other respects far superior, from the Anglo-Saxon stand-point of civilization. They are thrifty and frugal. Their lands extend for a distance of ten miles east and west of the boundary line between Arizona and New Mexico, and seem to have been chosen with good discretion as they embody some of the finest agricultural lands on this region. For the distance of upwards of a hundred miles south of the Zuni village there is an arroya embracing a series of small valleys, watered by mountain streams and a system of natural springs which, could the device of man cause to share their lot with the otherwise fertile soil of the so-called deserts of the western part of the State, would cause that emblematic desert rose to assume all its brilliancy. The little valley of the Zuni is about six miles wide at the longitude of the Zuni village, and runs jnst here, almost due east and west. The Zuni village is located on the north side of the Zuni river, which runs directly through the centre of the


[page 245]

valley. The valley is dotted here and there with mesas, on one of which the Zuni villages are built; anti from the elevation of which, ranging from twenty-five to a hundred feet, a most charming view may be obtained for three miles each way across the valley. It reminds one somewhat of the cheerful views in many of the upland valleys of Mexico. Valleys, hills and dales, nooks, rocks, and the like, present here that necessary diversity that pleases the sight, and which characterizes the Territory of Arizona as the traveler goes eastward.

The crops of these people are raised without irrigation. Their principal products are corn, wheat, barley, pumpkins, melons, beans, and most of the vegetables; and in importance and quantity range in about the order given—corn being the largest crop. Over the mesas and in the beautiful valleys may be seen handsomely arranged garden spots equal in neatness and attractiveness to those of the Teutons. Peach orchards varying from a quarter of an acre down. Red pepper, garlic and the smaller vegetables are raised in gardens of various dimensions, and the gardens are symbols of symmetrical neatness and cleanness. They are attended and cultivated by the women and children. Although in this respect, they would seem to resemble the Indians in custom; but from the fact that the men give their energies and time to the


[page 246]

field products, they would seem to be a medium between the aborigines and anglo-saxon element. They reminded me in this respect very much of the German. The gardens do better with some little irrigation, and the women and children do this by carrying water in vessels resembling the Mexican olla, placed on their heads. The ollas are of all sizes, and hold anywhere from one quart to ten gallons. The wells are of an original plan. They have no windlass or a means of a ‘‘drop.’’ The ground is first dug until water is reached. An incline is then dug down to the bottom of the well, from a point sufficiently distant from the mouth of the well, to give it an angle for easy walking, digging out all the earth, and leaving a complete roadway to the bottom of the well or spring at the lower end of the hill. One of these wells I saw, measured forty feet deep and twelve square and had an incline approach of one hundred feet. It is an odd and pleasing sight to watch these ‘‘Rebeccas’’ trotting down to the well with their vessels on their head, and from their neat appearance and docile manners one has a profound respect and an exalted opinion of Indian life, after having come from the land of the greasy ‘‘Digger’’ or the rapacious Apaché. In their gardens one will scarcely find a weed.

In the morning the men may be seen going in files to their fields—that is, provided you ‘‘turn out’’ at five


[page 247]

in the morning. The division of work and rest for the day is very similar to the most semi-tropical countries. They go to the fields at early dawn, return to breakfast at ten o'clock (having taken a small morsel of something before going out, the same as they do in the West Indies). They do no work again until about three in the afternoon, avoiding the broiling sun, then they return to the field at that time and work until sun-down.

The country being a pastoral one to a very large extent, much stock is raised. The principal of which is sheep. On one occasion in 1872, one of the Caziques made his daughter a present of three thousand head of sheep.

Goats, cattle, horses, mules, burros, (a species of the jackass) hogs, chickens etc., form no small part of their possessions. These people are very domestic. The men do not gamble nor become as a rule, intoxicated; a condition that has become almost identical with the most of American Indians.

The chastity of the women is proverbial, and the morality of the men is beyond reproach. In the Zuni villages, women are as fair as alabaster, and as pure as virgin marble. Even to this very day it cannot but be gleaned, by an association with them, that any one who would temper with their sacred virtue would meet with the fate of the famous guide, Estervan,


[page 248]

who suffered death for having secretly made love to their women.

Their pastimes consist in music and dancing, and games, the chief of which is that known among them as paleto. It is curious to see them exert themselves at this game. It is the national game. One might sit for some time and watch them, and then have a longing to join them in their skip, hop and a jump. It is performed after this fashion:—

A line of men and boys are formed, in their bare feet. Any number may join in the game. The head one takes a stick (the Paleto) between his big and second toe. With this he starts off, giving two hops and a jump, at each jump, allowing his right foot to touch the ground, giving him a powerful spring. All the rest are now following close behind. Their course is round a common circle. If the paleto man drops his stick, the next, without stopping, picks it up with his toes, placing it in the same position as the other between his big toe and the next. If he misses, he drops out of the line while the next Indian behind tries his luck. If he picks it up he continues on until he drops it and then he drops behind to the rear, as the one who previously had done. And so they keep up, he only dropping out of the line who fails to pick up the stick when the leader has dropped it. Thus it keeps up until all but one has failed to pick up the


[page 249]

INTERIOR OF AN ORAIDI HOUSE IN THE MOQUI VILLAGES.


[page 251]

paleto when dropped, and he is claimed the victor. This is witnessed by a large gathering of the women, who, clap or shout at any great alacrity of the performers, and the last one is hailed as a sort of King o' the day; has a wreath placed upon his head, and is the recipient of honors, and of presents occasionally.

This game is performed on a larger scale on fétes or holidays, and is a source of great merriment. Many a maiden will watch her lover with the most selfish anxiety for his success, and many such lovers will ‘‘lose the paleto’’ from the simple flint that the maiden is watching him. On féte days these games or performances generally end in grand processions. They have many féte days in which many historical events are commemorated. On the evenings of these days a sort of religious feast or entertainment is usually held. It is performed with great pomp and reverence. A performance which was enacted with grand ceremony attracted our attention. Some animal, usually a quadruped of some kind, this time a rabbit, was placed on the ground with his head toward the east. In its fore-paws, which are stretched out before him, is placed an ear of corn. Before this, the spirit man takes his position with a bowl of meal and with language and gestures the stranger does not understand, consecrates this meal. This being done, the animal and the ear of corn are sprinkled thoroughly with it,


[page 252]

and a solemn exercise of prayer and consecration is gone through with. After this the animal is allowed to remain one day, and then taken up and eaten as a consecrated feast of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest. On these occasions no Mexican is allowed to enter their domain and see their processions.

The men and women alike, pet, idolize—fairly ‘‘worship’’ their children. Their abodes are superior—in fact, cannot be compared with what we understand as Indian huts. In style and material they resemble Mexican buildings except their houses are built as we have described, en masse, communial—one and each supporting the other. The principal room where the members of the tribes receive friendly visitors, are on an average nine feet high, with seats running around the structure generally covered with some unshorn skin of an animal such as a goat, sheep, wild cat, etc., making it preferable to a hard board for the sitter. The floors are of stone, and the rooms are as a general thing, neatly whitewashed; which is more titan we can say of the average Mexican residences met with in Arizona. They are clean and neat always. One singular thing exists. No vermin are to be found in the whole town; neither rats, mice, roaches nor bed-bugs. A species of head lice is the only thing in that line, that ruffles their temper or destroys the equilibrium of their nerves. They are


[page 253]

THE FREE INDIAN GIRLS:—AN-TI-NAINTS, PU-LU-SU AND WI-CHUTS.


[page 255]

keen in trade—never getting excited or in a hurry, and ‘‘drive a bargain’’ with all the shrewdness of a Chatham Streeter. With an anglo-saxon training, these people, I should judge, would become one of the greatest policy people in the world. The spirit is innate in them; for, until the break of friendship between you and them is made flagrant, no outward manifestation is made of any slight antipathy that may exist between you upon slight provocations, that could be detected by an outside observer. The same hospitality, provided you are admitted within their limits at all, is extended to all: another evidence where the brain power has control of, and keeps the sentiments and impetuosities at bay. Let your visit be at any hour of the day or night they welcome you with this spirit. If in the night even, the same invitation for you to partake of refreshments, or to drink some of their beverages, is extended.

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER XIV. THE INDIAN—THE PIMO, THE MARICOPA, THE PAPAGO, THE ZUNI, THE MOQUI... Next: CHAPTER XVI. THE MOQUI AND ZUNI CONTINUED—THEIR DRESS...




© Arizona Board of Regents