Published June 30, 2018
CORTEZ, Colo. — The groundbreaking restoration work on the Chuba:kwe (Corn) Kiva at Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico is nearly complete, and planning and preparation work for the next kiva to be revitalized through the Zuni Tribe’s and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Zuni Kiva Project is set to begin.
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.
The Chuba:kwe Kiva is the first of the six kivas at Zuni Pueblo (Shiwin’a) to be restored as part of the project, with work expected to finish up in time for summer solstice ceremonies scheduled for early July. The Chuba:kweKiva 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 kokko (kachina) dances and other kiva activities due to the condition of the other kivas.
According to Crow Canyon Cultural Specialist and Zuni Tribal member Dan Simplicio, there are crucial Chuba:kwe
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. Without the kivas and the kiva ceremonies, Zuni people lose access to their culture, their past, and their path to the future.
Planning work is already set to begin on the He’i:kwe (Wall) Kiva, the second kiva to be restored and revitalized through the project.
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 Chuba:kwe Kiva nearly complete the others are in need of varying levels of structural work ranging from minor repair to moderate building renovation.
In a departure from traditional kiva building techniques, the revitalized Chuba:kwe Kiva has been rebuilt by Zuni volunteers using steel-frame construction—to be finished with a layer of adobe and other traditional aesthetic touches—and a modern, reinforced roof structure that adds stability and durability for the building, and safety for the kiva members. Importantly, the modern materials are lightweight and do not compress the centuries of Zuni cultural materials that lie in the ground below the Zuni Village. Other new features include improved insulation and new restroom facilities.
Zuni community leaders and members wanted these modern building materials, and they were used with the approval of traditional kiva leaders and the community. Money for the project is being raised by Crow Canyon through a combination of donations and grants, including a recent $10,000 grant from the Bonderman Southwest Intervention Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Zuni Tribe has 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.
The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center has a long history of researching, visiting, and teaching about ancient and historic kivas—and now we are revitalizing kivas a collaborative project that directly benefits the Zuni Tribe, and meets one of the highest priorities of American Indian communities in general — cultural continuity.
For more information about the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the Zuni Kiva Project, please contact Crow Canyon Media Specialist Jason Vaughn at 970-564-4362, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org