The Zia symbol is everywhere: hats, flags, shot glasses. You name it, it’s on it. Now, there’s a whole exhibit dedicated to the Zia symbol, and how it became New Mexico’s most recognizable image. 

The Zia flag was designed back in the 1920s, highlighting the state’s Native American roots. A new exhibit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center offers a look at where the design really came from.

For native New Mexicans, the Zia symbol is a sign of pride, reflective of the rich culture across the Land of Enchantment. Peter Pino, the former governor of the Zia Pueblo, says so many New Mexicans just see it as a logo. 

“People not really understanding the meaning of the symbol,” said Peter Pino, the former governor of the Zia Pueblo. 

Now, a new exhibit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is teaching people more about its significance, and how it ended up on our flag in 1925. 

“It was on a pot that was never meant to leave the Pueblo, but anthropologists came and took the pot without permission and it ended up in an art collection, and it ended up being appropriated from that onto the state flag,” said Rachel Moore, Curator of Exhibitions at IPCC. 

The use of the icon has recently been debated. There’s even been a push in the Roundhouse to set boundaries using the Zia symbol. 

“To add more emphasis and protection to the Zia symbol: How do you use it? What are the specs and the specification?” said Sen. Michael Padilla. 

While protecting it is important, Rachel Moore says it’s just as important for everyone to understand where it comes from. 

“I think it really just comes down to the amount of respect you have for it. If you know what it means, and you know its history, that’s more power to you and to the symbol,” said Moore. 

The exhibit is accompanied by a short film, and there are photos submitted by the community of all the different variations of the Zia symbol over time.

The exhibit will be on display until October.