The Zuni, or A:Shiwi, whose pueblo is in the northwest corner of New Mexico are renowned for their fetishes, primarily of animals. Fetishes are objects to be venerated for their powers to protect, heal and overcome. The traits in these animals are often ones we can summon, or aspire to in ourselves. There are two directional sets of fetishes: the healing directional set and the hunting directional set. Most animal fetishes are the same for both healing and hunting, with a few exceptions. The spirits of these creatures have the power to assist us in different ways. A traveler, for instance, might carry the fetish of a mountain lion-powerful, resourceful, independent-for protection, while hunters would carry the fetish of a mountain lion for success in their pursuits.
Many 19th century Zuni fetishes are curated by our National Museum of Natural History's Anthropology Department.
Exquisite contemporary Zuni fetishes are held in the collections of our National Museum of the American Indian.