Appealing directly to consumers is one way a New Mexican Indian reservation hopes to improve its economic conditions. Though the products it makes are considered top quality and have gained popularity during the past decade, many Zuni Indian jewelry makers are nevertheless tempted to abandon their craft.
Zunis make a few direct sales to tourists, but have to deal mainly with traders coming to the reservation, offering prices that barely cover the cost of materials.
In an attempt to bypass traders and keep profits on the reservation, the Zuni Craftsmen Cooperative has compiled a catalog of its silver-and-turquoise jewelry and is going into the mail order business.
The soaring demand that brought $15 million in jewelry sales in 1976 also stimulated a flood of imitations; only $3 million to $4 million in sales is expected this year.
Jewelry trade is viewed as its only prospect for economic self-sufficiency. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and private organizations have given grants through the Tribal Sovereignty Council to help produce the catalog and streamline the cooperative.
The catalog, priced at $2, can be ordered from the Zuni Craftsmen Cooperative , PO Box 426, Zuni, N.M. 87327.