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Traders and Trading Posts of the Old Southwest - June 17 - 27, 2010

Interest in my annual field trip continues to grow, so here are highlights from our 2010 adventure.  Our focus was on trading posts and on historic traders, both of which are rapidly disappearing. 

•    Our first stop was in Gallup, New Mexico to meet trader Bill Malone.  He now manages the huge Indian art store and vault at Shush Yazz, the long-time trading outlet operated by the Tanners, a trading family for generations.

•    We then headed to Sanders, Arizona to meet Bruce and Virginia Burnham, traders for over 40 years.  This couple has encouraged local weavers to use hand-dyed wools and fine Germantown yarns, bringing their weavings to a new level of excellence.  We asked the wives of several veteran traders to convene at Burnham to share their years of experiences with us.

•    During our day at Hopi participated in lots of activities including a talk with katsina carvers, a pottery firing and viewing a real katsina dance.

•    Heading north from Hopi we stopped at the remote Shonto Trading Post, set within beautiful canyon walls.  Al and Margaret Grieve have been traders for many years at this location, so far off the beaten path.  They are working with older weavers to continue the tradition of producing handspun saddle throws and rugs.  This is also the heart of Navajo pottery and basket country, and many such pieces come into this old store.

•    Living nearby are the parents of Ronald and Sally Martinez, a traditional Navajo family that invited us to a bountiful lunch.  Ronald and Sally displayed a large collection of Navajo folk art gathered from throughout the region.

•    Incredible Monument Valley is where we spent two nights at “The View”  - the new hotel built by the Navajo Nation providing our guests with spectacular views of major rock formations.  We did some interesting exploring within this beautiful valley and ate a catered sunset dinner on a mesa.

•    Rough Rock Trading Post, begun in 1897 by Clitson Dedman, is still active today, well off the beaten track.  It’s owner, Bonnie Jackson, is a new trader who took over in 2003 and is working hard to keep this an active post.

•    At Lukachukai we were guests of traders Hank and Vicky Blair who run an active post in a community filled with weavers and jewelers.  The Blairs have been traders for several generations and have built a major trading operation in this scenic area. They invited local artists to show us their wares.

•    After a visit to the Toadlena Post, and an overnight stay in Farmington, we headed to Santa Fe. A highlight of our trip was a visit to the Santa Fe home of private collectors who have built a major collection of southwestern art.

•    On the drive to Jemez Pueblo we traveled through the beautiful Valles Caldera.  At Jemez, several potters of the Fragua family introduced us to their widely acclaimed figurative pottery.   We then journey back to Albuquerque for a farewell dinner.


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