Woh'Dem'La', Ko:Koshi, Uh'Be'Ka'Yad'Un'Na', Hu:Du'Du', Sa'Li'Mo:Be'Ya', Shu'La':Wits Un/Da'Chu, and Sha'La/Ko'

Zuni Mission Restoration Projects

The ancient pueblo of Zuni (more properly known as Halona), located 33 miles south of Gallup, is the largest pueblo in New Mexico, with some 8000 inhabitants.

At one time it was a part of a cluster of villages which became identified as the "Seven Cities of Cibola." In 1540, the conquistador Francisco Coronado was the first European to visit the village. To his dismay the villages produced no gold or valuable treasures.

Today, farming, ranching and salaried employment play important roles in the Zuni economy, but the pueblo is well known for its unique silver jewelry, inlaid with turquoise, shell, jet and coral.

A Brief History of the Mission

The mission building itself reflects the turbulent history of the Zuni people over the past 350 years or more.

Spain formally established New Mexico as a province in 1598 with the settlement of San Gabriel del Yunque, near the pueblo of San Juan. Twelve years later, the provincial capital of Santa Fe was established. Then, in 1629, with the arrival of a number of Franciscn priests, a concerted effort was made to spread the Christian faith out to the western pueblos.

By July of that year, three priests, two at Hawikuh, and one at Halona, began the task of constructing churches and rectories. The mission at Halona was dedicated to Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of the Light).

This mission, along with all the other missions at Acoma and Hopi, were destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Not until 1699 did the Spaniards make an attempt to reactivate the Zuni mission. It was rededicated, that year, to Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) but only occupied for a few years. Between 1706 and 1754 it was known as Mission La Limpia Concepcion (Mission of Pure Conception).

In 1754 its name was changed back to Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.

By 1821 Mexico had won its independence from Spain, and, as a result, many of the Franciscans returned to Spain, leaving only a handful of priests to serve the far-flung missions of northern New Mexico. By the 1840s, when this region became part of the United States, missionary work had ceased and the buildings began to deteriorate and fall into ruins.

The Mission is Restored

When the Franciscans returned to Zuni in 1922 they built a new mission and school north of the pueblo, and dedicated it to St. Anthony.

As a result of a cooperative arrangement between the pueblo of Zuni, the Catholic church and the U.S. Park Service, the old mission was excavated by a team of Park Service Archaeologists beginning in 1966.

By 1968 the restoration project got underway under the supervision of Auro Cattaneo, a contractor and stone mason from Gallup. Although work was completed in 1970, the mission wasn't formally rededicated until May 29, 1972.

The Murals

During the restoration project, several elderly Zunis commented that the old mission used to have murals painted on the interior walls prior to its abandonment.

Alex Seowtewa, a well-known Zuni artist, proposed to paint a series of traditional Zuni ceremonial figures, or Kachinas on the walls of the nave. Permission was granted and Alex began his "labor of love" in 1970.

By 1983 Alex, with the help of his sons, Gerald and Kenneth, completed 24 figures of various kachinas and tribal religious leaders. Since then three additional panels depicting traditional crops, birds and animals, and a kiva altar have been completed.

In 1989 the National Endowment for the Arts granted a two-year appropriation (based on a 50-50 matching basis) to help Alex and Ken continue with the project.

With the generous help and contributions from the private sector,the grant requirements were met. At present, a grant from the State of New Mexico is helping to finance the project.

The Mission is Deteriorating

The mission, like all flat-roofed adobe buildings throughout the Southwest, requires constant maintenance and repair work.

Ever since the completion of the restoration project in 1970, a natural progression of deterioration has been taking place. Although roof and wall repairs are part of the regular maintenance schedule, this year's greatly increased rainfall and high humidity has dramatically accelerated the deterioration of the roof, vigas and portions of the adobe walls.

Stephen Peart, technical coordinator of a team of conservation experts from the New Mexico Community Foundation's Churches: Symbols of the Community program who inspected the mission in March, 1992 said, "During restoration, the adobe walls were coated, both inside and out, with cement stucco. The stucco coating is keeping moisture in the adobe bricks, instead of allowing them to breathe as they need to do so the church can stay in good repair."

Our immediate concern is to stop any further moisture from penetrating into the adobe walls and hopefully stop any additional settling or separation from the interior stucco.

Our Immediate and Long-term Needs

We need a new roof, metal caps on the exposed (and rotting) vigas, new rain spouts and an improved drainage system.

We need these critical improvements Now!

Unfortunately, it takes anywhere from 18 months to two years for a state or federal grant to be processed, reviewed and approved.

We can't wait that long!

Rev. Dale Jamison says"

"We need between $35,000 to $50,000 for these urgent repairs. The mission is the `depository' of Alex and Ken's murals - a capsule history of both the pueblo and the church - and we simply can not allow these precious murals to be threatened."
The New Mexico Community Foundation's Churches: Symbols of the Community program will provide technical and professional assistance and supervision. One hundred percent of the work force will be comprised of Zuni laborers, masons and carpenters.

So please, we need your support and financial contributions now!

Our immediate goal is a budget of $50,000. in addition, our long-range improvements to the roof, interior and exterior stucco, and a drainage system around the foundation of the mission will cost another $20,000 per year for the next three years.

Please send contributions to:

Old Zuni Mission Mural Project
P.O. Drawer 1009
Zuni, NM 87327

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