Cover image for Zuni and the American imagination
Zuni and the American imagination
McFeely, Eliza, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hill and Wang, 2001.
Physical Description:
xvi, 204 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
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E99.Z9 M24 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A bold new study of the Zuni, of the first anthropologists who studied them, and of the effect of Zuni on America's sense of itself The Zuni society existed for centuries before there was a United States, and it still exists in its desert pueblo in what is now New Mexico. In the late nineteenth century, anthropologists-among the first in this new discipline-came to Zuni to study it and, they believed, to salvage what they could of its tangible culture before it was destroyed, which they were sure would happen. Matilda Stevenson, Frank Hamilton Cushing, and Stewart Culin were the three most important of these early students of Zuni, and although modern anthropologists often disparage and ignore their work-sometimes for good, sometimes for poor reasons-these pioneers gave us an idea of the power and significance of Zuni life that has endured into our time. They did not expect the Zuni themselves to endure, but they have, and the complex relation between the Zuni as they were and are and the Zuni as imagined by these three Easterners is at the heart of Eliza McFeely's important new book. Stevenson, Cushing, and Culin are themselves remarkable subjects, not just as anthropology's earliest pioneers but as striking personalities in their own right, and McFeely gives ample consideration, in her colorful and absorbing study, to each of them. For different reasons, all three found professional and psychological satisfaction in leaving the East for the West, in submerging themselves in an alien and little-known world, and in bringing back to the nation's new museums and exhibit halls literally thousands of Zuni artifacts. Their doctrines about social development, their notions of "salvage anthropology," their cultural biases and predispositions are now regarded with considerable skepticism, but nonetheless their work imprinted Zuni on the American imagination in ways we have yet to measure. It is the great merit of McFeely's fascinating work that she puts their intellectual and personal adventures into a just and measured perspective; she enlightens us about America, about Zuni, and about how we understand each other.

Author Notes

Eliza McFeely, who earned her Ph.D. at New York University, teaches at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, where she lives with her husband and two children. This is her first book.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ever since the publication of Ruth Benedict's bestselling Patterns of Culture in 1934, which imagined the culture of the Zu¤i Indians as a communal alternative to Western individualism, many Americans from utopian novelists like Aldous Huxley and Robert Heinlein to New Age seekers have been riveted by these natives of what is now New Mexico. In her first published work, which began as her dissertation at NYU, McFeely (who teaches American history at the College of New Jersey) explores the influence of the Zu¤is on American culture. Her focus is on the work of three turn-of-the-century ethnologists Matilda Stevenson, Frank Cushing and Stewart Culin which provided the foundation for Benedict's later, better-known studies. Though McFeely may overstate the importance of her own subjects in the complex relationship of Zu¤i to the American consciousness (after all, Benedict's work was more widely read), she offers a fascinating glimpse of the Dark Ages of American anthropology. For example, Stevenson introduced a Zu¤i "princess" to official Washington, apparently unaware that she was a berdache, a man who had chosen to identify with the women of the pueblo. Meanwhile, Culin prepared a hoard of "manufactured artifacts" to send to his Brooklyn Museum's ethnology halls. While Stevenson, Cushing and Culin were sincerely committed to preserving what they thought was a vanishing culture (Zu¤i is very much alive today), it's their "walk-on-the-wild-side" mentality that makes them such irresistible subjects. Despite repetitious, academic writing, McFeely's provocative study will appeal to American history fans, who will never again be able to look at museum dioramas of Native American cultures in the same way. Illus. not seen by PW. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

McFeely (College of New Jersey) weaves an outstanding depiction of how one of the remaining Pueblo Indian cultures, the Zuni, was greeted then treated by the encroaching American culture. The author centers her discussion on the three anthropologists who visited the Zuni in the early days of contact in the 19th century--Matilda Stevenson, Frank Hamilton Cushing, and Stewart Culin. Using prevalent anthropological methodology, they considered the Zuni as a culture frozen in time and sought to collect and save as much of Zuni material culture as possible. As McFeely states, "these three individuals literally moved the Zuni, in the form of thousands of artifacts, out of the Southwest and into museums and the pages of their books." The end result was an enculturation that drastically changed the culture into a haven for tourists, littered with souvenir shops and all forms of modern accouterments. Zuni still exists, but in the old adobe village away from the paved highway. The anecdotal approach is well written, saving the book from being just another clinical, detached account of the Zuni. McFeely's bias in favor of the Zuni is obvious, but this adds rather than detracts from the value of the book. General and academic collections. F. G. Bock emeritus, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Booklist Review

The pueblo of Zuni in New Mexico has long fascinated intellectuals. Aldous Huxley used Zuni in Brave New World, and Robert Heinlein adapted anthropologist Ruth Benedict's conjectures about Zuni culture for Stranger in a Strange Land. McFeely shows how three early anthropologists found the Zuni each of them wanted to find. Matilda Stevenson befriended a Zuni princess who was in fact a berdache, a man living as a woman, and thereafter, she herself tested the limits of American culture's gender definitions by ranging beyond the constraints of the time on women. Frank Hamilton Cushing's work at Zuni was foreshadowed by his childhood adventures; as in those, the adult Cushing lived, over and over, a quest in which he was simultaneously an outsider and a chosen insider. Stewart Culin, a merchant, transformed anthropology into the twentieth century's most expensive shopping spree for indigenous art. Zuni survives, McFeely argues, partly because of its accommodation of its explorers' projections. An intriguing addition to Zuni and Southwestern native studies in general. --Patricia Monaghan

Library Journal Review

McFeely (anthropology, Coll. of New Jersey) offers a detailed and thought-provoking examination of the careers of three of the first anthropologists to study Zu$i society. Matilda Cox Stevenson's works on Zu$i religion, mythology, and ethnobotany remain important to the developmental history of American anthropology. Frank Hamilton Cushing's contributions to Zu$i ethnography include studies on folktales, myths, and fetishes and a study of Pueblo pottery. Stewart Culin is most widely known for his anthropological and ethnographic displays of Zu$i material culture as the first curator of ethnology at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Like Stevenson and Cushing, Culin essentially had to create his own credentials and reputation through publication and research. Ironically, these anthropologists considered much of their work on the Zu$is as salvage ethnography, yet the Zu$is have outlasted them and continue to maintain much of their original culture. McFeely demonstrates that anthropologists are not immune to the cultural and political climate of their own times. Recommended for all academic libraries and specialized collections.DJohn E. Dockall, Bernice P. Bishop Mus., Honolulu (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One FINDING ZUNI * * * "O brave new world, / That has such people in't!" muses Shakespeare's Miranda as she gazes for the first time on other people of European descent. She speaks to her father, Prospero, who has to a large extent "gone native." "'Tis new to thee," he replies, smiling sadly, for he knows the history of this Spanish branch of the human family. In The Tempest , civilization is brought to an isolated, untamed land to purge it of its excesses and to set things right again for its return to Europe. In addition to the familiar morality play, Shakespeare offered his audience, in the misshapen Caliban, a glimpse of the strange inhabitants of the mysterious continent across the Atlantic that had begun, in the late sixteenth century, to excite the European imagination. Here was an inversion of what civilization should mean, a dark, cruel other against whom Europeans of birth and refinement might measure and confirm their own accomplishments. And, in the idea of an exiled child of civilization who casts a fresh eye over its claims, he lit a creative spark that has continued to inspire authors, social critics, and audiences.     This fantasy of Spaniards at large in the New World had a basis in reality that had already stretched back a century or more when Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in 1611. On the heels of Columbus, the Spanish had invaded and ruthlessly conquered the empires of the Aztecs and the Incas, set to work extracting what precious metals they could find, and restlessly looked around for other lands and peoples that might yield similar wealth. Wonder at the sophistication of the societies they encountered mingled with age-old romances of lost cities and a powerful desire to believe in untold riches. One such romance attached itself to the Seven Cities of Cíbola. Spanish memories of a medieval legend about seven wealthy Christian cities somewhere in the Atlantic seemed to be echoed in stories the Aztecs told of seven caves that might be found along their trade routes to the north. Inspired by the extraordinary worlds they had already discovered in what is now Mexico and Peru, Spaniards in search of new conquests pushed north along the Pacific coast, but they found neither golden cities nor treasure caves.     Then, in 1528, a Spanish ship was wrecked off the coast of Florida. Two survivors wandered inland, like the shipwrecked Spaniards in Shakespeare's play. For a decade they made their way west across the continent, arriving at last at a Spanish settlement at Culiacán, on the Pacific coast. Along the way, they encountered people who told them of cities to the north whose inhabitants exchanged turquoise and other stones for the bright feathers of tropical birds. When they reached Culiacán, their reports mingled with existing legends and convinced an ambitious Spanish viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, to sponsor a small exploratory expedition northeast toward the pueblos of present-day New Mexico. In 1539, guided by one of the two shipwreck survivors, a black African named Esteban, the expeditionary party set forth. When Esteban, who had gone on ahead, sent back word that he had found seven opulent cities in a land called Cíbola, he gave credence to an elaborate combination of legend, reality, and wishful thinking.     In fact, he had found Zuni, a pueblo in western New Mexico that encompassed a central village and several outlying farming villages. That there were probably only six cities, not seven, and that they were beautiful but not, by Spanish standards, wealthy, the Spanish discovered only later. But at that moment in 1539 the pueblo of Zuni crossed from prehistory to history and entered the ethnocentric written record that served Europeans as a benchmark of civilization. Still the center of their own complex story of themselves, the Zunis were now also peripheral characters in a story of others.     Zuni is just one of many pueblos in New Mexico and Arizona. The most famous, Taos, is north of Santa Fe, and others lie along the banks of the Rio Grande, stretching south from Santa Fe toward Albuquerque. The Hopi pueblos are much farther west, near the Grand Canyon, in Arizona; their reservation today lies within the larger Navajo reservation in that state. Zuni itself is relatively isolated; it lies in a broad, flat valley in New Mexico, close to the Arizona border, surrounded by mountains and divided from its eastern neighbors by both distance and badlands, the remains of a long-inactive volcano.     Like their neighbors, the Zunis trace their ancestry to the builders of the remarkable ruins that still exist in the Southwest, cliff dwellings high in canyon walls and on rock ledges, small cities in valleys like Chaco Canyon and Canyon de Chelly, or on mesa tops, like Mesa Verde. Those settlements flourished in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, trading, in some cases, with people as far south as Mexico. By the thirteenth century the people had mysteriously disappeared, the victims of drought or warfare, perhaps, leaving behind these tantalizing traces of their existence. They themselves scattered, in all likelihood, finding their way to other people who took them in, and eventually to the sites of the pueblos that exist today.     No one knows exactly when Zuni was settled, but it was well established when the Spanish arrived in 1539 and began their conquest. The walls of the present pueblo were built at the end of the seventeenth century, on the site of other walls that date much further back. In 1680, the Zunis joined their pueblo neighbors in an uprising against the Spanish. The uprising took the Spanish by surprise, and they retreated temporarily; in 1692 they returned, however, reasserting their authority with acts of legendary brutality, though the Zunis fared somewhat better than the inhabitants of some of the other pueblos. The Zunis, following long-standing tradition, moved into the mountains during the Pueblo Uprising, inhabiting easily defensible caves in the cliffs. When they returned, they rebuilt their town where it is today, consolidating a number of smaller villages into the central pueblo. The pueblo was built of flat stone and adobe, redder and rougher than the golden adobe of Taos; tall outer walls protected the Zunis from intruders, and the ground immediately outside the walls was covered with low-walled gardens, laid out in a waffle pattern designed to maximize the usefulness of the unpredictable rainfall in the valley. Corn, beans, melons, and even peaches grew in this unlikely terrain. Inside, dwellings were stacked one on top of another, with entrances, equipped with ladders, in the roofs. Wonderful chimneys made of stacks of spherical pots dotted the roofs as well, and fruits and vegetables and animal skins Were laid out there to dry.     The dwellings were built around central courtyards, and narrow alleys allowed passage through the town. The courtyards and the alleys were the main site of the pueblo's ceremonial dances, though many of them began outside the pueblo. Also vital to Zuni's rituals were kivas, rooms within the pueblo where members of Zuni's secret societies held meetings, performed rituals, and prepared for their roles in the dances. In general, each society was organized around a particular spiritual task, related to healing a specific sort of malady or taking responsibility for some aspect of the pueblo's well-being--helping to bring rain or ensuring a prosperous hunt, for example. Often membership in a medicine society was extended to those whom the society had cured. Adult Zunis belonged to societies that mixed members of many households, in part as a defense against family feuds. For the most part, societies were responsible for discrete parts of Zuni's religious rituals and obligations. Overseeing all of them were six rain priests, who were responsible for making sure that Zuni properly carried out its spiritual obligations, and who, for all intents and purposes, governed the pueblo; they were assisted by the priests of the bow, the warrior society, who put their decisions into practice, shielding the rain priests from the violence and disharmony that might interfere with their spiritual powers. There was also a civil governor, whose job was to deal with outside authorities, first the Spanish, then the Americans.     Each society performed both its own private rituals and public dances, sometimes as part of the yearly dance calendar, sometimes because of particular situations that demanded its intervention. For the public dances, members (most of whom were men) wore costumes that were specific to their societies; these included both special clothing and paint, rattles and other noisemakers, and oversize sculpted masks that identified those who wore them with characters in Zuni's cosmology. Dressed in kachina costumes, the men were representatives of gods and other sacred figures; the kachina dolls that are popular tourist souvenirs today were, in Zuni, made to help children learn the identities of the dancing figures in the courtyards. For those outside Zuni, the most easily identifiable characters in the dances were the Koyemshi and the Newe:kwe, both ritual clowns, though with different responsibilities, and the giant warrior birds, the Sha'lako, whose impersonators wrapped blankets around their shoulders in a way that increased their height by several feet and placed enormous beaked masks atop them. The Sha'lako festival came in the fall, a celebration of the gifts bestowed by the gods and of prayers for continued rains and prosperity.     For two centuries after the Zunis returned to their pueblo following the Pueblo Uprising, their lives consisted of a yearly cycle of farming, herding, and hunting, overlaid by the cycle of their religious obligations. Spanish friars maintained a presence in the pueblo, and the Zunis felt, from time to time, the political and economic demands of the Spanish empire. It is, in fact, important that Zuni was conquered long before there was a United States; it became part of the nation through acquisition, as part of the settlement of the Mexican War in 1848. By then, Zuni, like the other pueblos, had a claim to its land that had legal bearing in Spain, and thus the Zunis existed in a relationship to the United States different from that of other Native American tribes who held their land by tradition but had no formal legal title to it.     Zuni was incorporated into the United States not so much by conquerors as by collectors. There were sporadic visits to the pueblo by curious military men and travelers in the nineteenth century, but it was not until 1879, while the last of the Indian wars were under way, that Americans showed concerted interest in the people who inhabited it. In that year, representatives of the Bureau of American Ethnology made Zuni the focus of the first federally funded experiment in professional anthropology. These representatives initiated a steady flow of anthropologists who were eager to document Zuni's cultural practices and procure extensive collections of its material culture. That flow lasted well into the twentieth century and seems likely to extend into the twenty-first.     Though anthropological interest in Zuni has remained more or less constant since those first encounters, and the pueblo is a well-established stop on the southwestern tourist circuit, neither the Zunis nor those who have studied them are as famous now as they once were. Some of the later students of Zuni, notably Ruth Benedict, Ruth Bunzel, Leslie Spier, Alfred Kroeber, and Elsie Clews Parsons, figure in the history of American anthropology, but few of them are well known to the general public. The individuals who preceded them, including the subjects of this book, are even more obscure. Matilda Stevenson, Frank Hamilton Cushing, and Stewart Culin are relegated to footnotes in the history of anthropology. Yet they have recently begun to attract the attention of people, like myself, who are interested in what the form and substance of their lives and studies reveal about the thinking of Americans of their time.     Stevenson, Cushing, and Culin are now on the margins of the history of anthropology and, in many ways, at the edges of American history. Yet few of us who have explored Indian exhibits in the dark halls of a hundred museums have not brushed up against them. They were part of a small network of people who in a very brief time collected thousands of Native American artifacts. The provenance of some of those pieces was suspicious, and some have recently been repatriated to their rightful owners, but others remain at the heart of exhibits, old and new, that still fascinate children and adults alike. Not everyone has heard of Zuni, and the three anthropologists who first gave shape to our thinking about the pueblo are not world-historical characters. It is not the centrality of Zuni and Zuni anthropology that is compelling but their persistence. Borrowings from Zuni continue to run like a subtle thread woven at the edge of a larger pattern of culture.     Those borrowings from Zuni, in the form of anthropological works, run as well through the identities Matilda Stevenson, Frank Hamilton Cushing, and Stewart Culin crafted for themselves. As they developed those identities, they also contributed to defining the new discipline of anthropology and its distinguishing methodology: fieldwork. Like other anthropologists working with other Native American societies, they constructed portraits of the cultures they studied that reached an extraordinary number of people: readers of popular magazines, visitors to museums, and the crowds that swept through the grounds of the world's fairs regularly offering up science, spectacle, and amusement at the turn of the century.     Within those portraits, and within the biographies of these three anthropologists, we can discern a complicated dialogue that touched on many issues that concerned Americans as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth. The center of this book is Zuni, but it is also a study in the cultural history of the urban United States, an attempt to shed light on the simultaneous feelings of confidence and upheaval that some middle-class Americans experienced when they sought to accommodate the new economic and social realities of a maturing national marketplace, new bureaucratic organizations, and new ideas about leisure, personal fulfillment, and identity. As corporate culture and the culture of consumption started to exert their powerful influences, Americans' understanding of their own identities changed.     Zuni pueblo served, not entirely voluntarily, as a laboratory for a generation of anthropologists who were defining a new profession and documenting the particulars of pre-industrial society. Over several decades, they produced an extraordinary body of literature on Zuni and collected thousands of Zuni artifacts. To the extent that a society's culture can be preserved in these alienated forms, Stevenson, Cushing, and Culin did a remarkable job. But their Zuni, necessarily frozen in time and removed in space, exists in a strange relation to the Zuni of New Mexico today. For while urban American anthropologists assembled the culture in one time and space, Zuni perpetuated itself in another. The culture that the anthropologists re-created looked a lot like Zuni, but both the means and the ends of their endeavor existed not in New Mexico but in the cities of modern America.     For anthropologists, Zuni was a gold mine of artifacts and information, with an abundance of materials from which ideas about its culture and about culture in general could be inferred. Zuni, only one of many societies of indigenous Americans subjected to scrutiny at the turn of the century, was an intriguing and accessible research site. The pueblo provided the material and cultural subject matter that turn-of-the-century anthropologists so avidly sought, and that they then transported and transformed for professional study and popular consumption. But Zuni served both the anthropologists and their audiences in less tangible ways, supplying these inhabitants of an industrial world with a stage set against which they could play out their fantasies of pre-industrial wholeness and cultural superiority. Within the stone and adobe walls of Zuni, anthropologists pursued their individual quests for identity and purpose. When they shipped back Zuni artifacts and set up exhibits, and when they brought Zuni people east, they offered up for comparison a new rendering of American social identity. Here was a way to make peace with the tantalizing and troubling realities of an industrial consumer society. What the Zunis really were, what their culture meant, was of secondary importance. The Zunis, as a part of American popular culture, were more important for being what other Americans wanted them to be than for what they actually were.     Stevenson, Cushing, and Culin presented much of the physical and cultural material they collected at Zuni in exhibits and writings. Because they arrived at the pueblo so early, and because they acquired so many artifacts and so much firsthand information as yet largely protected from outside influences, they laid the groundwork for the imaginative uses that many other people have made of Zuni. Anthropologists, artists and writers, and visitors to museums and world's fairs were all fascinated by the possibility of traveling in another time and space and experiencing another way of ordering the universe. These three made their own creative uses of Zuni, contributing early chapters in the story of how Zuni came to occupy its position as an island refuge at the edge of the American imagination.     Zuni's history since the arrival of the Spanish, and especially since the arrival of Americans more than three centuries later, had about it an air of romance and fantasy: it had entered the larger historical record as both a place and an idea, and so it remained. The magic of the myth of the Seven Cities of Cíbola never wholly wore off, and to this was added the nostalgia of many visitors to Zuni for the pre-industrial past and the vibrant spirituality that it seemed to represent. By the end of the nineteenth century, when Zuni was invaded not by conquistadores but by anthropologists, it was imagined as an island away from the tempest of modern life, a place where the demands of modern civilization were temporarily suspended and the harsh experience of savagery tempered civilization's metal. It offered visitors from the industrializing United States a world turned upside down, separated from the real world not in time but in space. It was a place away from the rules of everyday life, a respite from the obligations of the city.     But it was also a place for science, for without their scientific purposes, the travels of Stevenson, Cushing, and Culin would have lost their moral weight. Sampling the practices of primitive life brought them dangerously close to scandal; such proximity to excess could be justified only by devotion to a scientific calling. In the case of these anthropologists, the work of Zuni was in part a mission of preservation--rescuing a culture they believed would not long survive. It was also part of a larger project aimed at filling in the details of a universal story of human cultural evolution, a scientific creation story in the making. This first generation of anthropologists believed that studying so-called primitive cultures in places like Zuni would in time reveal a pattern of cultural evolution that would give coherence to the perplexing profusion of variations on culture that people of European ancestry encountered as they spread their imperial reaches farther and farther afield.     Carrying this scientific creation story, as well as the more familiar Christian one that framed it, these anthropologists ventured forth to find out how they could fit other societies into their narratives. Because their quarry was culture, a central part of their work was the investigation of native creation stories, part of the oral traditions that were the most fragile and elusive of anthropological artifacts. At Zuni, their urge to find a scientific explanation for the varieties of mankind mixed with their study of sacred traditions in a manner that generated an irresistible challenge and a wonderful, if troubling, synthesis. The stories were among the hardest things to obtain, as sacred things generally are. And because they were works of art, magical, mystical, and beautiful as well as scientific, these stories exerted a peculiar charm over these Americans, who simultaneously dismissed mysticism as primitive and embraced it with a powerful nostalgia. More than that, they represented, to the discerning eye of Frank Hamilton Cushing, a sort of Rosetta Stone that contained not only the spiritual heart of Zuni culture but coded clues to its prehistoric past as well.     When anthropologists came to Zuni, four versions of creation converged. There was the Zuni mythology of the origins of the pueblo; a version of it that Cushing created out of a combination of archaeology, careful reading, and imagination; the Christian beliefs of the Anglo-American visitors; and the larger scientific narrative that, they hoped, would unite all the others. This last meta-narrative was to be the story of the evolution of cultures, a story that encompassed all other stories, weaving together the strands of all existing societies into a grand teleological narrative that had Anglo-Saxon culture as its final chapter.     One theme that recurs in the work of historians, anthropologists, and other writers on Zuni concerns the way the Zunis managed to absorb cultural forms from outside without perceptibly altering their own core beliefs and practices. The Spanish friars who followed the conquistadores built a mission in the pueblo early in the seventeenth century but could not convince the Zunis to give up their own religious traditions and rituals. The Zunis adopted some Christian practices but could not see Christianity and their own pantheon of gods as mutually exclusive. Centuries later, Mormon and Presbyterian missionaries encountered the same stubborn confidence. Though they were adept at incorporating useful ideas into their existing practices, the Zunis remained convinced that abandoning their obligations to their own spiritual world would be disastrous. The anthropologists who followed these earlier religious envoys noted with bemusement and frustration that the Zunis seemed determined to impose their own meanings on the trappings of Western, Christian society that came to the pueblo, diminishing its usefulness as a "pure" example of primitive life without noticeably advancing the cause of the civilization those trappings represented. In their ethnocentric confidence that their own gods were ultimately the most powerful, the Zunis were more like their American visitors than those visitors were able to see.     The fact is, Zunis had imagined themselves for centuries before they were imagined by Europeans and Americans. Their own story, the cultural narrative that explains who they are and what they should do, is the story of a journey, the journey to the Middle Place. Like the stories of some of their southwestern neighbors, the Zuni story begins in a series of four underground chambers. These chambers contain creatures who are not yet finished humans. Some have tails, some webbed hands and feet; all live in darkness or semidarkness. Some of those from the uppermost chambers have come out into the light, but they offend the Sun by neglecting the necessary rituals, and so the smell of each succeeding group has killed off those who reached the surface before them. Finally, the Sun, anxious that the last group, in the deepest chamber, emerge in the right way, creates twin sons out of foam and sends them to show the people the way out.     The way is arduous. The Ahayuuta, the twin sons, must figure out, with the help of the people, how to get out of the darkness. They consult the priests of each direction, and gather them together, each with his own knowledge, power, and sacred objects. In time, they develop a plan that involves creating trees that grow from each level up to the next. As each tree reaches through to the next room, the people climb up until finally they reach the surface of the earth.     Once there, they embark on a journey across the land. This creation story reverses the expulsion of Adam and Eve that marks the beginning of a journey in Jewish and Christian mythology, and the difference reflects a basic difference between the two cultures. Whereas Judeo-Christianity begins with expulsion, followed by generations of restless wandering in hopes of recapturing an original place and state of being, the Zuni religion begins with a journey from an unlovely place that ends in the place the Zunis are meant to be, the Middle Place. The story of that journey is wonderfully rich, and I would do it an injustice by trying to summarize it all here. It is a journey full of tests and trials. The people don't always understand what they are supposed to do, and, like the descendants of Adam and Eve, they accumulate the burdens of humanity and history along the way. They meet other creatures, supernatural and natural, who influence the progress of their quest, and they themselves split up, some traveling in one direction, some in another, for it is not clear exactly where it is they are headed. When some of them reach the area around Zuni, they begin to build villages and settle down, but the Ahayuuta continue to search for the Middle Place. After a long time, they come to Zuni. Summoning the water-strider, a delicate creature that can run on the surface of water, they ask him to spread out his long arms and legs, and they mark the place where his heart rests. This, finally, is the Middle Place. This is Zuni. (Continues...) Copyright © 2001 Eliza McFeely. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1 Finding Zunip. 3
2 Imagining Americap. 25
3 Two-Fold One-Kind: Matilda Stevensonp. 43
4 A Place of Grace: Frank Hamilton Cushingp. 75
5 "Blue Beard's Chamber": Stewart Culinp. 111
Conclusion: Zuni Legacyp. 149
Notesp. 171
Bibliographyp. 185
Indexp. 197