No, not that kind of “fetish.” In the Zuni Native American culture, this means a found rock or pebble that resembles an animal, carved to enhance the image and imbued with a spiritual power or “medicine.” These talismans have been a part of Pueblo culture for more than a thousand years and serve as empowering reminders of the human connection to nature and to the qualities the animal reflects, such as agility, perseverance, independence and survival. For instance, mountain lion medicine reminds us to establish healthy boundaries and to be a good example to others. A bear – a sacred fetish for the Zuni tribe – represents healing, protection, strength and mothering.
Keshi (pronounced kay-SHE) is the traditional greeting of the Zuni. Keshi, The Zuni Connection hosts the largest selection of authentic Zuni fetishes in the world, as well as a stunning inventory of a variety of art, pottery and jewelry. This fair trade outlet, originally established as a co-op in 1981, proudly represents the work of more than 1000 Native American artists, 95 percent of whom are Zuni.
The Zuni Tribe is distinct in many ways. The Zuni Pueblo is the largest in New Mexico, yet its people’s native tongue is unique among the languages of the world. Despite the challenges of wars, invasions and outside religious influences, the Zuni have remained undaunted in their devotion to their cultural and religious traditions. Of all the Native American tribes, the Zuni are the most widely known for their outstanding quality and craftsmanship of fetish art. Though some fetishes may be as small as a dime, they are beautifully crafted from rocks and gems, many intricately inlaid with delicate designs. Whether large or small, each carries with it a special meaning, which makes them a genuine artifact of your New Mexico journey and an ideal gift. “Petit point” jewelry is another renowned Zuni art and Keshi offers an exquisite assortment for collectors.
For fans of famed comedian and comic strip artist Ricardo Lee Cate of the Kewa tribe who is well known for his cartoon comic strip in the Santa Fe New Mexican, “Without Reservations,” Keshi showcases an assortment of original paintings. Cate’s humor is slightly twisted yet thought-provoking, always g-rated and always makes you laugh out loud with his reflections of Indian life in the modern world.
Keshi originated in 1981 with the collaboration of Robin Dunlap, then a school teacher on the Zuni Pueblo, and a small group of Zuni artists and other teachers to showcase outside the reservation the esteemed work of Zuni artists. Robin’s daughter, Bronwyn Fox-Bern, maintaining the bridge between the Zuni Tribe and the rest of the world. She attended the Zuni school where her mother taught, later completed her degree in American Cultural Studies and is now managing director at Keshi. The 800-square-foot store stands on Don Gaspar Street, in the heart of historic Santa Fe, just two blocks from the plaza. The extensive displays, coupled with the knowledgeable, friendly staff, make Keshi a place that offers you a sense of authentic connection and closeness to a deeply rooted spiritual culture and artistic heritage. Keshi, the Zuni Connection, is a must for those hoping to take home a piece of the true soul of the Southwest.
Keshi, The Zuni Connection, is open 7 days a week, Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 11a.m. – 5p.m. at 227 Don Gaspar. For more information and on-line shopping, visit their website. Call Keshi at (505) 989 8728. Elah-kwa (thank you).