November 18

indigenous words/phrases: Zuni

The Zuni language is unique and historians believe it has been preserved for more than 7,000 years.

Unlike other Southwestern tribes, the Zuni language is unrelated to other Native American tongues and considered an “isolate.” It should be noted that the Zuni Indians later adopted words from Hopi and Pima tribes to describe certain religious observances and ceremonies.

Today, an estimated 6,000 people in New Mexico speak the Zuni Language. It is passed on through generations. To English speakers, the language sounds breathy and phrases include a series of pauses that convey meaning.

heart: ikʼe:nanne/ head: oshokkwinne / mouth: awadine

squirrel: yashi / coyote: suski / bird: wotsana

sun: yadokkya /moon: yachunne/ stars: moʼyachunne

feature image: She-we-na (Zuni Pueblo). Kachina doll (Paiyatemu), late 19th century. Brooklyn Museum