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Send Steve Where?: Teen shares his Zuni heritage, legacy

Steve Soliz
October 27, 2017 06:56 PM

Send Steve where? This is the latest in a series to let new KOB anchor Steve Soliz learn New Mexico, and to give New Mexico a chance to get to know Steve. Send your suggestions on where Steve should visit at sendsteve@kob.com

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ZUNI PUEBLO, N.M. -- Geoffrey Hughte, a young teen boy, recently extended an invitation his home at the Zuni Pueblo. During the trip, each turn in the road brought a different question.

Who is this kid? Why would he take the time to write a letter of invitation?

The 13-year-old teen, born and raised in the pueblo, spends time as a volunteer in the tourism office. Geoffrey is a growing expert in all things Zuni.

The first stop in a guided tour: the pueblo's middle village. It's home to a centuries old mission. Much like the pueblo, it's rich with history and tradition.

Geoffrey explained what things are important to the people who live at the pueblo.

"For one thing, religion," he said. "That's the one, key thing that we keep here because if we lose that, we lose everything. … The other thing we care about is the actual language which is also tied to religion … 99 percent of Zuni adults speak Zuni. Of course, us children, we try to have our parents teach our language."

Geoffrey says learning the Zuni language is important to him.

"This is the greeting for our afternoon -- Guw'aadzi k'okshi idiwakyadapba," he said. "And that means, hello good afternoon.

During the visit, the Zuni Pueblo prepared for an important religious celebration. There's a spot where hundreds of people were about to gather.

"This is the place where we have our social dances, religious dances," Geoffrey said.

People gathered on these rooftops to watch the dancing. Pictures aren't taken for the religious ceremonies, and there's a reason for that. That request is posted on signs throughout the pueblo.

"We want our religion sacred," Geoffrey said. "We don't want any tapes or pictures taken while this religious thing is happening."

Next stop on the tour is a place another Zuni tradition is on display.

"Some of the artists actually do whatever they want to do," he said.

One trading post on the Zuni Pueblo has the beautiful work of many Zuni artists, including that of Tamara Pinto.

"This is my butterfly concha belt that I make. It consists of 16 butterflies, a lot of different colors from various stones," he said.

These pieces are more than just art or jewelry.

"This is part of Zuni's economy with the money that people receive," Geoffrey said. "This is also the main type of job that many people have -- Silversmithing, pottery, fetishes, carving."

The beauty doesn't end at the trading post.

An incredible formation called Dowa Yalanne Mountain, or Corn Mountain, once served as a point of refuge for the Zuni. The mesa is now home to sacred Zuni shrines.

After a few minutes at the base of Corn Mountain, it was on to the pueblo's newest eatery for some of Geoffrey's favorite foods. Their menu focuses on healthy eating, an initiative that is very important to the Zuni Pueblo.

"Well, traditionally speaking, there is our mutton stew and our bread, our oven bread," he said.

Driving around the pueblo, there's one thing that's clear.

"The Zuni Pueblo has been around for many, many centuries," Geoffrey said.

And with natives like Geoffrey, their legacy will be shared with generations to come.

Credits

Steve Soliz

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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