A:shiwi Origins

Learn more about A:shiwi/Zuni’s emergence and migration history

Migration MuralsA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Visual history

Since time immemorial, our elders educate us on our unique A:shiwi cosmological history. This Mural captures, visually, the remembrance of our ancestry.  

We are sharing this visual interpretation of our history and a very general description. We respect and honor the deep historical knowledge that is within our community and we ask our viewers to understand some parts of our history are esoteric and meant to stay within the village.

We also want to add to the limited, Zuni voiced, virtual resources to help our families have engaging conversations about where we come from and how we came to Halona: I:diwanna, the Middle Place.

First panelA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

In the beginning Yadokkya Datchu (Father Sun) heard our ancestors within our Awidelin’ Tsitda (Mother Earth).

He created his twin sons, and sent them within Mother Earth to guide our ancestors out. The Twins helped our ancestors out of the Four Underworlds:

Annosiyan Dehwulinne

The Underworld of Soot, climbing a Pine tree, into,

Ko'lin Dehwulinne

The underworld with foul smells, a Spruce tree was place and our ancestors climbed into, 

Awishon Dewulinne

The underworld covered with algae.  Our Sun Father's sons placed a Aspen tree and our ancestors climbed into,

Debahiyan Dehwulinne

The underworld beneath the surface, a phargmite reed was placed and our ancestors climbed out into, 


...Chimik’yana’kya Dey’a, or Ribbon Falls, in the Grand Canyon. 

After emerging, our bodies were changed from having tails and other body differences, to how we look today.
We were instructed to find home, Halona I:diwanna, the Middle Place. Guided by the Twins we migrated. 

Chimik’yana’kya Dey’a

The emergence site for our A:shiwi people.

Today, if we walked to Ribbon falls, it would take a few days.

Ribbon Falls by Geddy Epaloose (2010-12-01) by Geddy Epaloose - AAMHC - A:shiwi Map Art PaintingA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Chimik'yana'kya Dey'a - Ribbon Falls

A Shiwi illustrated and advised viewpoint of this very prominent cosmological site.    

Spirals (2022-11-17) by AAMHCA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

History is in the surroundings

Our ancestors migrated throughout the Colorado Plateau and possibly beyond to find the Middle Place.  This petroglyph may be referring to our emergence and migration. 

Second PanelA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Sunhankin Kyabachu Yala:we (San Francisco Peak)

Guided by the Sun Father's sons, we migrated to find the middle place.  During our journeys, our cultural practices and observances developed and expanded. 

Kumanch’ An a’lakwinne (Diablo Canyon, AZ)

Many of our Cultural sites have been referred to as "Ruins" to us, they are still important to our cultural sustainment  and spiritually occupied by our ancestors. 

Destinations revealed

Sun Father's twins met and divided our ancestors into two groups.  They were told they would move separately to find their respective homelands. The Sun Father’s twins brought with them two different bird eggs.

Picking our destiny's.

One was a colorful egg, the other a dull colored egg. Each group was to pick one egg and follow the bird from it. 

Duane Dishta-South (2008-05-01) by Duane Dishta, AAMHC, and A:shiwi Map ArtA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Cultural ties

Our ancestors may have maintained connections to our southern peoples though trade routes.  The cultural similarities are striking.  The following Map Art by the late Duane Dishta shows this special bond that is divided by political boundaries. 

Third PanelA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

From the split our people divided into two further groups and moved through Kołuwalawa (Zuni Heaven lands). The powerful energy in this place caused children to change into water beings.  Example of how powerful a place can be.

The two groups of our A:shiwi ancestors came to Hanłbinkya, it is here, our family clan system was established. We originated with 20+ clans and since we are matrilineal, some clans became extinct. Today, we have around 13 clans and a few sub clans.

Existing, Annodi:we (Family Clans):
Dowa:kwe - Corn
Boyyi:kwe-Road Runner
Bitchi:kwe - Dogwood, Mula:kwe/Mula:bitchi:kwe-Macaw, K'walashi:kwe/K'wa'bitchi:kwe-Crow Donashi:kwe-Badger
Ayaho:kwe-Tansy Mustard

Annodi:we I:denkowa (Extinct Family Clans):
A'bo'ya:kwe - Sky
Chitdola:kwe - Rattle Snake
Dałupts'i:kwe - Yellow wood
Dawe:kwe - Wood
Ma'wi:kwe - Antelope
Okshiko:kwe - Rabbit
K'yana:kwe - Water

Second PanelA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

After the clan system was formed, the two groups split in different directions, one came directly towards present day Zuni, NM. The other, went up north. 

Third PanelA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Mesa Verde

The northern group was a special group of leaders in search of specific cultural resources, knowledge, wisdom to complete our culture. They traveled to a place that is only remembered as being very cold. 

Forth and FifthA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Heshoda Bitsulliya - Chaco Canyon

Many of the ancestral sites our ancestors occupied contain special features that reflect and nurture a connection to the landscape, as well as the sky above. Many of our important cultural observances occur during certain seasonal times of the year.   

Shibabulima - Bandelier National Monument

Vital knowledge of songs, prayers and other cultural observances that completed our society groups can be pinpointed to certain ancestral sites. Bandelier, is one of those places. 

Chi:biya Yallanne - Sandia Mountians

Memories of our migration also includes prominent land features.  The visual aid helps us better understand the larger regional areas. 

Dewankwin K'yaba:chu Yallanne - Mount Taylor

Our ancestry also understood the unique landscapes and elevations, would hold certain cultural resources that help sustain our culture. 

Heshoda Yałdo'a / A'ts'inna - El Morro National Monument

Today, some of our ancestral sites are protected by the National Park Services and other entities. Saving these sites help shape future generations to understand our cultural landscapes. 

Doy'a - Nutria

Throughout our ancestors travels we learned how important the land, resources, everything that helps sustain life is vital to us as A:shiwi. 

Our two groups of ancestors reunited and found Halona I:diwanna, with confirmation from Kyan’ Asdebi (Water strider), by stretching his legs to the edges of the oceans and marking the middle place with his heart. 

Halona IdiwannaA:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center

Halona: Idiwanna - The Middle Place

The earlier archaeological evidence places our presence in this area over several thousand years ago.  

A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center

Our people have been in this area for many years, despite different peoples coming in and altering our lifestyles, we still exist from our ancestors and elders adaptability, resilience, and love for people, animals, insects, natural resources, and the well being for all. 

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