We drove to the Zuni Reservation, about an hour south of Gallup, NM. We volunteered at Zuni High School in Mr. Fishman’s tenth grade social studies class. He teaches three classes per day, each with about 15 students. The students sat in small groups of three or four and the Lewis & Clark students split up among the tables of students. They were learning about historians and interviewing processes, so each of us we asked by Mr. Fishman to bring in an object of historical significance. The students were given a set of questions covering the significance of our object and how it spoke to our personality as well as a variety of questions about our lives. The students seemed truly interested in our lives as college students and the variety in our upbringings. The Zuni students do not have much outside influence and were given the opportunity to hear about various regions all over the world. The Lewis & Clark students were able to ask the Zuni students about their culture. The students told us about stories and tradtions of the Zuni culture. One that stood out was about a local mesa where all the inhabitants fled to during a massive flood. During the flood, two virgins sacrificed themselves by jumping into the water to please the gods. There are currently two large rock figures on the mesa that resemble the two virgins, and to keep the mesa sacred, no non-Zunis are allowed to climb the mesa.
The students gave us a short tour around thier high school, where they pointed out some student art work such as pottery and metals. The students had strong artistic talent, and each object was impressive. They also told us about their families and traditions as they pointed out the surrounding rock-cliffs that they run up for cross-country practice. After leaving the school, Mr. Fishman took us to a local ice cream shop and showed us around Zuni. We bought some jewlery and pottery in a local shop, visited the Zuni Cultural Center, and bought oven bread from a local family with a gigantic handmade clay oven which could hold up to 100 loaves. We concluded the day with a group discussion back in Gallup where we discussed the day and our thoughts about Zuni culture and our experiences.
Alison and Shane