During the second half of the 1880s, entrepreneurs set up trading posts on many Indian reservations to supply everything from food staples and tobacco to farming equipment. Many times the traders accepted animal furs, Indian artwork, and crafts in lieu of cash for payment.
One of the most famous of these trading posts was the one operated by John Lorenzo Hubbell at Ganado, Arizona. Unlike many traders, who took advantage of their customers, Hubbell had a good relationship with the Navajo people, and they shared a mutual respect. Hubbell became the foremost Navajo trader of his time, building a trading empire that included stage and freight lines, as well as trading posts. Eventually Hubbell and his two sons owned 24 trading posts, a wholesale house in Winslow, and other business and ranch properties.
Hubbell had an enduring influence on Navajo rug weaving and silversmithing, consistently demanding and promoting excellence in craftsmanship.
Established in 1878, Hubbell family members operated the Ganado trading post until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1965. While the property is managed by the Park Service as a National Historic Site, the trading post store is still active, and operated by Western National Parks Association, a non-profit association that continues the trading business of the Hubbell family.
While the store still stocks a few basic grocery items and snacks, today the inventory is mostly Navajo rugs and tapestries, Indian jewelry, and crafts.
Besides the trading post itself, and the Hubbell family home, the complex includes a National Park Service Visitor Center that has a small book store, and a loom where Navajo women demonstrate the weaving skills. Unfortunately, we arrived just as the demonstration ended.
The Hubbell family home houses the family’s private collection of Southwestern art and Native American arts and crafts. The Park Service brochure says the home is available for guided tours, but it was closed during our visit. The woman on duty in the Visitor Center, who had all of the personality of a toad, really didn’t offer any information on what the actual tour hours are, since they don’t seem to follow the information in the Park Service brochure.
We spent some time poking around in the trading post store, admiring the beautiful Navajo rugs and the silver and turquoise jewelry on display.
Unlike the woman in the Visitor Center, the two ladies working in the store were very friendly and helpful. We didn’t purchase anything, because when you live in an RV, space is always a limitation. But there were a couple of weavings that Miss Terry sure wanted to take home with her.
I had a good time just taking pictures of all of the neat stuff on display inside the trading post, as well as outside.
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is located on U.S. Highway 264, a mile west of its junction with U.S. 191 in Ganado. It is 37 miles from Ganado to Interstate 40. Summer hours at Hubbell Trading Post are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, from April 30th to September 8th. Winter hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily from September 9th through April 29th.
There is a very short, sharp turn off the highway and it would be difficult for large RVs. When we arrived there was an eighteen wheeler in the parking lot dropping off supplies, and it did not go out the main entrance. But the woman in the Visitor Center just gave me a blank stare when I asked about RV access. I guess she was having a bad day, and my presence didn’t help it any.
Thought For The Day – Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.