Archeological evidence suggests that they have lived in the area for 1300 years. Their first contact with Europeans came in 1539, when an expedition under the leadership of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado arrived. Over the course of the next century, the Spanish were able subjugate the Zuni and the other Pueblo peoples of the area, until they were termporarily driven out in 1680. They returned a dozen years later, but were far more circumspect in their rule.
Estevánico met with the Zuni of Hawikuh in 1539. After informing them that the Spanish were coming, he offered to persuade the Spanish to be nice to the Zuni if the Zuni gave him turquoise and a woman. The Zuni leader didn't believe Estevánico, and ordered him killed.