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“Zuni-Land in 1882”

by Sylvester Baxter

Zuni Pueblo, ca. 1880“Zuni Pueblo, ca. 1880,” John K. Hillers (Photographer)

We finally reached Zuni at noon. The pueblo lies at the foot of the majestic Thunder Mountain. Close by flows the Zuni River. It is but a trickling stream in the dry season, but becomes a torrent in the rainy seasons. Because of flooding, the pueblo that once stood on the left bank was removed not long after the conquest to the present site on the right bank.

The knoll upon which Zuni stands seems appropriate, owing to the way the houses are terraced one above the other. The prevailing tone is red, as the pueblo is built chiefly of red sandstone, largely excavated from the ruins of the former location across the river. The thick slabs are about the thickness of Roman bricks, but made of red adobe mortar from the tawny soil. The wide stretching plain around is red, wan and bare of all vegetation because thousands of sheep owned by the Zunis are grazed whenever there is grass. Sheep corrals are made of scrawny upright sticks which surround the place like huge thorns.