Pueblo of Zuni Becomes First Tribal Nation to Join the MainStreet Project


The Pueblo of Zuni became the first tribe in the nation to join the MainStreet Project—a national economic development project focused on cultural and historical preservation. The tribe signed a proclamation of their participation at 2 p.m. at the Zuni Visitor and Arts Center, reported the Cibola Beacon.

The grassroots program helps downtown communities establish or revitalize their business environments while preserving local cultural and historic resources.

Since its establishment on the national level in 1980, the Project has taken root in more than 2,000 communities, spurring $49 billion in reinvestment in traditional commercial districts, galvanized thousands of volunteers, and changed the way governments, planners, and developers view preservation, according to the MainStreet Project's website. This model helps foster community pride and promote the growth of small businesses.

“We believe that this grass-roots type of economic development fully matches our community’s needs, which is based on small, individual cottage arts production," said Pueblo of Zuni Governor Arlen Quetawki, Sr.

The program started in New Mexico in 1985, and currently serves 23 downtown communities, plus six state-authorized Arts and Cultural Districts. Among the benefits are increased local employment, higher tax revenues and an improved general quality of life. This is achieved through the "Main Street Four Point Approach," which focuses on four key areas including organization, design, promotion and economic positioning.

“This successful model of downtown and community revitalization is a vital strategy for economic renewal for Zuni Pueblo as it strives to preserve the ancient cultural traditions and create new opportunities for the future,” said Tom R. Kennedy, Zuni tourism office director.

A nine-member steering committee comprised of business and community leaders, artists, and residents who reside along Highway 53 will spearhead the Zuni MainStreet Project. The main economic driver for the Zuni is arts production. According to Kennedy, 80 to 90 percent of the tribal workforce makes jewelry, arts or crafts.

“I am looking at creating a more active business climate by giving our main street a facelift, which will also improve the quality of life for our citizenry,” Kennedy stressed. “The real advantage I see for the program at Zuni is that it is an organic, grass-roots, bottom-up development. It is the community coming together to decide what is important.”