Zuni Mickey Mouse Inlay

I picked up this ring at a Pow Wow here in So. California.

Stamped only “ZUNI,” was hoping someone had some backstory to these? I looked on eBay and prices are all over the board, why is that? What is an approximate value? Any info helps!

If someone has written an essay or held a show on this jewelry, I want to know about it. I don’t collect it, and don’t particularly like Disney, but it’s fascinating to me that Native American artists co-opted the figures. It’s such a pop artist, Andy Warhol thing to do.

Also I wonder if Disney ever sued them for appropriation. I hope not!

I don’t know much about these artists, but in my reference books, Veronica Nastacio is in Vol. 1 of “Zuni: The Art & the People,” published in the early 1970s. The text speaks of her as if she was the artist who originated using traditional Zuni inlay for knifewings and rainbow man and Hopi birds to create Disney characters.


Here’s her page. I like her face and her expression. I can’t explain it. She looks delightful. I’d want to hang out with her.


Here’s her write-up. Sorry about the blur. I just have an iPhone, no proper camera.

Here’s a close-up of her work. If you Google images for her name, you’ll do better.

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Oh God, I just looked her up. She is the daughter of Leo Poblano and Ida Vacit Poblano, That is, she is from Zuni Inlay Royalty. (I’m being facetious, but I’m totally not kidding, either.) She is probably a genius.

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Thanks for sharing that page from your book, it’s very insightful. Maybe mine is a vintage knock- off? It’s not signed by anyone. The photos from your book show a very nice ring, mine is a little sloppy. My family have all worked at Disneyland at some point in their lives, so Disney holds a special place in our hearts!

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Even tho the mickey done by the female artist shown, I believe your mickey is authentic also. And to me, it looks as if there are numbers to the left of the ZUNI…and also, there might be an initial on the band. I know sometimes if you look at something long enough, it’s almost like you begin to see what you want! So, that does seem like giving a second look may be worth it…I think he’s adorable!

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I keep staring at the back, hoping to find another mark or scrawl… I’ve found nothing yet :expressionless:

Disney attempted to put a stop to these pieces being made, and it is my understanding that they threatened Zuni artists. That is why you won’t find names on these older Zuni Disney character pieces, they feared repercussions for making these pieces. It never stopped the Zuni artists, and you still find these Disney characters being made. Your ring has very similar characteristics to Veronica’s work, but doesn’t seem to be as clean as her work in the face. I will try and remember to ask Shirley Benn the next time she is in the store, she might possibly be able to identify this ring.