Native American Zuni & Micmac Tribes. A Brief Comparison.

There were hundreds of Native American tribes spread throughout North America before European contact.[1] Two Native American tribes with vast ancient histories are the Zuni tribe of the now west-central New Mexico[2] and the Micmac who reside in the Newfoundland area.[3] Both of these tribes survive today, although not in their original societal and cultural framework. The reason for the changes in the surviving tribes is due to the subsequent European invasion. For example, “Within one decade of European Contact, some palaeogeographers have estimated that up to 50 percent of the New World population had died of various European and African diseases…”[4]

The Zuni claim that their people are the descendants of the prehistoric Ancestral Pueblo people, who are also known as the Anasazi.[5] The Zuni people lived in vast cities throughout the Southwestern area of the now United States in vast city complexes. These cities were named “the Seven Cities of Cibola”[6] by Spanish explorers in the 1600s. The Zuni people were, and still are, a matrilineal clan-based society. “Their cultural and religious traditions are rooted, in large part, in the people’s deep and close ties to the mountains, river ways, forests, and deserts of this ancient Zuni homeland.”[7] Today the Zuni people support themselves by being farmers and jewelry makers, much like their ancestors did.[8]

The Micmac Native Americans lay claim to perhaps being the first to be contacted by non-Native American groups.[9] These contacts happened first with the Vikings and then in 1497 by John Cabot, an explorer from Venice who crossed the Atlantic in 1497 with the permission of Henry VII.[10] Ancient Micmac people were not sedentary; they were migratory hunter-gatherers who moved with the seasons following moose, deer, caribou, and bear.[11] Once European trade opened up on the North American continent the Micmac people participated in the fur trade as a means of income. Trade was not a new idea for the Micmac people as there is evidence that they had well-established trade partnerships with tribes to both the west and the south pre-contact.[12]

Historical evidence clearly shows that the Native American society was vast and well organized before European contact, making the myths of a wild frontier for the taking easily disproven.[13] Tribes such as the Zuni lived in substantial city complexes whereas tribes such as the Micmac moved from area to area. However, both of these tribes show that their societies were well organized for their people to thrive. For example, financial, family, and religious institutions did vary between tribes, however, they were well established.

Note: This article was originally published by Misty Hamilton Smith on Nov. 5, 2017, for the course HIST 314 at Southern New Hampshire University.

Footnotes:

[1]. Colin G. Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), p. 1-8.

[2]. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Zuni,” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Zuni (accessed November 3, 2017).

[3]. Encyclopedia of World Cultures, “Micmac,” Encyclopedia.com, 1996, http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/united-states-and-canada/north-american-indigenous-peoples/micmac (accessed November 3, 2017).

[4]. Suzanne L. Eckert, “ZUNI DEMOGRAPHIC STRUCTURE, A.D. 1300-1680: A CASE STUDY ON SPANISH CONTACT AND NATIVE POPULATION DYNAMICS.” Kiva 70, no. 3 (Spring2005 2005): 207. Supplemental Index, EBSCOhost (accessed November 5, 2017).

[5]. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Zuni.” Encyclopædia Britannica.https://www.britannica.com/topic/Zuni (accessed November 3, 2017).

[6]. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Zuni,” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Zuni (accessed November 3, 2017).

[7]. Pueblo of Zuni, “Pueblo of Zuni,” Pueblo of Zuni, 2017, http://www.ashiwi.org/ (accessed November 4, 2017).

[8]. Pueblo of Zuni, “Pueblo of Zuni,” Pueblo of Zuni, 2017, http://www.ashiwi.org/ (accessed November 4, 2017).

[9]. Encyclopedia of World Cultures. “Micmac.” Encyclopedia.com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/united-states-and-canada/north-american-

indigenous-peoples/Micmac (accessed November 3, 2017).

[10]. Paul Halsall, “Modern History Sourcebook: John Cabot (c.1450-1499): Voyage to North America, 1497,” Fordham University, July, 1998, https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1497cabot-3docs.asp (accessed November 4, 2017).

[11]. Encyclopedia of World Cultures. “Micmac.” Encyclopedia.com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/united-states-and-canada/north-american-

indigenous-peoples/Micmac (accessed November 3, 2017).

[12]. Encyclopedia of World Cultures. “Micmac.” Encyclopedia.com.http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/united-states-and-canada/north-american-

indigenous-peoples/Micmac (accessed November 3, 2017).

[13]. Colin G. Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), p. 1-8.

 

References:

Calloway, Colin G. New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.

Eckert, Suzanne L. “ZUNI DEMOGRAPHIC STRUCTURE, A.D. 1300-1680: A CASE STUDY ON SPANISH CONTACT AND NATIVE POPULATION DYNAMICS.” Kiva 70, no. 3

(Spring2005 2005): 207. Supplemental Index, EBSCOhost (accessed November 5, 2017).

Encyclopedia of World Cultures. “Micmac.” Encyclopedia.com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/united-states-and-canada/north-american-

indigenous-peoples/Micmac (accessed November 3, 2017).

Halsall, Paul. “Modern History Sourcebook: John Cabot (c.1450-1499): Voyage to North America, 1497.” Fordham University. July, 1988

     https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1497cabot-3docs.asp(accessed November 4, 2017).

Pueblo of Zuni. “Pueblo of Zuni.” Pueblo of Zuni. 2017. http://www.ashiwi.org/ (accessed November 4, 2017).

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Zuni.” Encyclopædia Britannica.

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Zuni(accessed November 3, 2017).

 




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