Zuni Kiva Project Awarded National Trust for Historic Preservation Grant

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The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center has been awarded a generous grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) to help start work on the next phase of the groundbreaking Zuni Kiva Project.

The Zuni Kiva Project is a collaboration between Crow Canyon's American Indian Initiatives department and the Pueblo of Zuni which aims to restore and revitalize six Zuni kivas. These kivas are vital for the continuation of important ceremonies which are at serious risk of disappearing forever unless action is taken quickly. According to Crow Canyon Cultural Specialist Dan Simplicio, there are crucial Corn Kiva ceremonies that have not been performed in their entirety since 1980 due to the condition of the kiva, and without practice they could go extinct.

The Corn Kiva is the first of the six kivas at Zuni to be restored as part of the project, with work expected to finish up in May. The Corn Kiva was selected by Zuni religious leaders as the first to receive treatment because it is also temporarily serving as the primary religious facility for all the Pueblo's kiva groups to conduct summer kachina dances and other kiva activities due to the condition of the other kivas.

The $10,000 NTHP grant will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Zuni tribe, and will go towards preparation for the next kiva renovation in the project, the Wall Kiva.

A kiva is a room or structure used by Pueblo people for religious rituals. Three of the six kivas at Zuni are no longer functional and need complete reconstruction. Three of the kivas can still function—and with work on the Corn Kiva nearly complete the others are in need of varying levels of structural work ranging from minor repair to moderate building renovation.

The Zuni tribe have tried many times to revitalize the kivas on their own, but were unable to do so because of the severe deterioration of the buildings and limited funding and manpower.

“Without the kivas and the kiva ceremonies, Zuni people lose access to their culture, their past, and their path to the future,” said Zuni Pueblo Governor Val Panteah Sr.

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center has a long history of researching, visiting, and teaching about ancient and historic kivas—and now we are using that background in the Zuni Kiva Project to directly benefit American Indians here in the Southwest. This collaborative relationship is based on respect, trust, and co-constructing initiatives of mutual benefit to both the Tribe and Crow Canyon, and we anticipate this relationship will lead to new service learning and research opportunities that are of mutual interest, and will hopefully become a model for developing similar projects with other American Indian communities.

But none of this vital work would be possible without the generous support of our donors and program participants, and there is still much work to do. For more information on how you can help Crow Canyon and the Zuni Kiva Project, click here.

This project has been funded in part by a grant from the Bonderman Southwest Intervention Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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