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O’ Great Spirit

help me always to speak the truth quietly

to listen with an open mind when other speak

and to remember the peace

that may be found in silence. – Cherokee Prayer

Many years ago in college I was lucky enough to room with a girl from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I can remember many conversations with her about the southwest and its history, culture and people.

So a couple of years later when I was able to finally travel there, I made sure I visited Santa Fe and her parents’ local restaurant. It was just as she’d described and so much more. I remember I was only supposed to stay in Santa Fe for one night and I extended my time there. The food was wonderful and the plaza was incredible. Local Native Americans sell their goods on the plaza square. I ate fresh fry bread, bought beautiful jewelry and trinkets and enjoyed wonderful conversations with a People whose history and culture I greatly admire.

I traveled through other parts of the state, too, but Santa Fe, by far, was my favorite.

I remember my roommate always wore a symbol around her neck and I once asked her what it was. It was the sun symbol of the Zia people and it was on the flag of New Mexico, where the Zia people originated.

The Sun Symbol of the Zia People

Looking at the symbol, it seemed pretty simple until she explained the deeper meaning. The Zia believed everything was given in fours. This symbol has many sets of four that each depict something:We see a red sun with rays stretching out from it. There are four groups of rays with four rays in each group. The Zia believed that the giver of all good gave them gifts in groups of four. These gifts are: 

  • The four directions – north, east, south and west.
  • The four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter.
  • The day – sunrise, noon, evening and night.
  • Life itself – childhood, youth, middle years and old age.

All of these are bound by a circle of life and love, without a beginning or end.

  • What beautiful meaning behind this symbol. To the Zia people, the symbol reflects tribal philosophy with its wealth of  spiritualism, teaching the basic harmony of all things in the universe. The Zia also believe that man has Four Sacred Obligations:
  • To develop a strong body
  • A clear mind
  • A pure spirit
  • And a devotion to the well-being of his people. 

The Pueblo of Zia is part of the Keres Nation. This pueblo has been occupied continuously since about 1250 A. D. The current boundaries of the Pueblo of Zia Reservation comprise about 190 square miles or 117,000 acres situated approximately 35 miles northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico .