Encyclopedia Article


In traditional Zuni society, a council of select priests governs over each village, with specific duties assigned to each council member. A pekwin is a secular authority figure who holds the responsibility to oversee the welfare of the people and preserve the peace of the community by intervening in disputes and advising community members on issues of moral conduct. The pekwin, who has a most central role as a mediator between social, political, and religious life in the pueblo, is carefully selected by the other priests. He must be exceptionally versed in Zuni history and mythology, must be able to coordinate traditional ceremonial dances, and must exhibit noble, just, and kind characteristics. If the people disapprove of him, they can appeal to the council, and another man would be appointed to the position.

Photo Credit: 

"Image from page 1030 of "Bulletin" (1901)" by Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology is licensed under Public Domain.