Memory Pieces and Footprints: Multivocality and the Meanings of Ancient Times and Ancestral Places among the Zuni and Hopi



The notion of the “contested past” has grown to be an important topic in anthropological research in recent decades, linking such themes as nationalism, identity, museology, tourism, and war. In North America, these discussions have largely centered on archaeology's shifting relationship with native peoples. As scholars give new attention to how research methodologies and representation of cultural histories affect indigenous peoples, it is critical to understand the unique ways in which Native Americans view their past. Contemporary Zuni and Hopi interpretations of ancestral landscapes in the San Pedro Valley of Arizona are used to explore how indigenous worldviews imbue ancient places with deep cultural and individual meanings. This research, based on a three-year collaborative ethnohistory project, argues for resolution to the “contested past” by incorporating a perspective of multivocality, which will enable the creation of alternative histories that do not eschew scientific principles while respecting native values of history.