Fernando Cellicion / Zuni from Zuni, New Mexico
Fernando Cellicion is an accomplished traditional flute player and singer. From Zuni, New Mexico, he was born in 1962 and is a member of the Zuni Pueblo. Fernando loves music! By the time he finished high school he played twelve different instruments, and he has not slowed down since. He tours all over the world as a performing artist and his tours have even brought him to perform for royalty in France and China.
When we first met Fernando, he was teaching two young boys the Eagle Dance in a gymnasium in Zuni. The giant gym swallowed the two young boys and yet, as they spread their wings and soared, the gym became sky— and the boys became young eagles. Fernando lives with his family in the traditional way with his parents, sister and a bunch of nieces and nephews. It was his parent’s wish that the family remain together as much as possible. His father fashions traditional inlaid silver jewelry at a bench in the back porch of the old house.
The first reported contact of the Zuni Pueblo people with the Spanish explorers took place as early as 1536 and ended quickly in bloodshed. This seemed a portent of things to come. Again and again, over the next 500 years, both gold-seekers and priests came to the pueblo. The priests would come to Zuni land with their beliefs, their churches and a diligent effort to convert the Zuni population to Christianity. Although certain social and governmental practices were installed and new foods introduced, Zuni culture basically remained as it was into the present day.
The Zuni Pueblo is still the largest of the southwest Pueblos. Many live in the village of Zuni and surrounding towns. A series of dams and overgrazing of the lands left the Zunis suffering in the early 1900’s, and many adopted the silver-working techniques of the Navaho. Eventually, they built their own unique craft culture. Today, nearly 90% of the employment of the Pueblo centers around the jewelry trade.
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