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Will Evans's writings should find a special niche in the small but significant body of literature from and about traders to the Navajos. Evans was the proprietor of the Shiprock Trading Company. Probably more than most of his fellow traders, he had a strong interest in Navajo culture. The effort he made to record and share what he learned certainly was unusual. He published in the Farmington and New Mexico newspapers and other periodicals, compiling many of his pieces into a book manuscript. His subjects were Navajos he knew and traded with, their stories of historic events such as the Long Walk, and descriptions of their culture as he, an outsider without academic training, understood it. Evans's writings were colored by his fondness for, uncommon access to, and friendships with Navajos, and by who he was: a trader, folk artist, and Mormon. He accurately portrayed the operations of a trading post and knew both the material and artistic value of Navajo crafts. His art was mainly inspired by Navajo sandpainting. He appropriated and, no doubt, sometimes misappropriated that sacred art to paint surfaces and objects of all kinds. As a Mormon, he had particular views of who the Navajos were and what they believed and was representative of a large class of often-overlooked traders. Much of the Navajo trade in the Four Corners region and farther west was operated by Mormons. They had a significant historical role as intermediaries, or brokers, between Native and European American peoples in this part of the West. Well connected at the center of that world, Evans was a good spokesperson.
Between 1880 and 1940, Navajo and Ute families and westward-trending Anglos met in the “bullpens” of southwestern trading posts to barter for material goods. As the products of the livestock economy of Navajo culture were exchanged for the merchandise of an industrialized nation, a wealth of cultural knowledge also changed hands. In Both Sides of the Bullpen, Robert S. McPherson reveals the ways that Navajo tradition fundamentally reshaped and defined trading practices in the Four Corners area of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. Drawing on oral histories of Native peoples and traders collected over thirty years of research, McPherson explores these interactions from both perspectives, as wool, blankets, and silver crossed the counter in exchange for flour, coffee, and hardware. To succeed, traders had to meet the needs and expectations of their customers, often interpreted through Navajo cultural standards. From the organization of the post building to gift giving, health care and burial services, and a credit system tailored to the Navajo calendar, every feature of the trading post served trader and customer alike. Over time, these posts evolved from ad hoc business ventures or profitable cooperative stores into institutions with a clearly defined set of expectations that followed Navajo traditional practices. Traders spent their days evaluating craft work, learning the financial circumstances of each Native family, following economic trends in the wool and livestock industry back east, and avoiding conflict. In detail and depth, the many voices woven throughout Both Sides of the Bullpen restore an underappreciated era to the history of the American Southwest. They show us that for American Indians and white traders alike in the Four Corners region during the late 1800s and early 1900s, barter was as much a cultural expression as it was an economic necessity.
The Anaasází people left behind marvelous structures, the ruins of which are preserved at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly. But what do we know about these people, and how do they relate to Native nations living in the Southwest today? Archaeologists have long studied the American Southwest, but as historian Robert McPherson shows in Viewing the Ancestors, their findings may not tell the whole story. McPherson maintains that combining archaeology with knowledge derived from the oral traditions of the Navajo, Ute, Paiute, and Hopi peoples yields a more complete history. McPherson’s approach to oral tradition reveals evidence that, contrary to the archaeological consensus that these groups did not coexist, the Navajos interacted with their Anaasází neighbors. In addition to examining archaeological literature, McPherson has studied traditional teachings and interviewed Native people to obtain accounts of their history and of the relations between the Anaasází and Athapaskan ancestors of today’s Hopi, Pueblo, and Navajo peoples. Oral history, McPherson points out, tells why things happened. For example, archaeological findings indicate that the Hopi are descended from the Anaasází, but Hopi oral tradition better explains why the ancient Puebloans may have left the Four Corners region: the drought that may have driven the Anaasází away was a symptom of what had gone wrong within the society—a point that few archaeologists could derive from what is found in the ground. An important text for non-Native scholars as well as Native people committed to retaining traditional knowledge, Viewing the Ancestors exemplifies collaboration between the sciences and oral traditions rather than a contest between the two.
For more than a century, trading posts in the American Southwest tied the U.S. economy and culture to those of American Indian peoples—and in this capacity, Hubbell Trading Post, founded in 1878 in Ganado, Arizona, had no parallel. This book tells the story of the Hubbell family, its Navajo neighbors and clients, and what the changing relationship between them reveals about the history of Navajo trading. Drawing on extensive archival material and secondary literature, historian Erica Cottam begins with an account of John Lorenzo Hubbell, who was part Hispanic, part Anglo, and wholly brilliant and charismatic. She examines his trading practices and the strategies he used to meet the challenges of Navajo exchange customs and a seasonal trading cycle. Tracing the trading post’s affairs through the upheavals of the twentieth century, Cottam explores the growth of tourism, the development of Navajo weaving, the automobile’s advent, and the Hubbells’ relationship with the Fred Harvey Company. She also describes the Hubbell family’s role in providing Navajo and Hopi demonstrators for world’s fairs and other events and in supplying museums with Native artifacts. Acknowledging the criticism aimed at the Hubbell family for taking advantage of Navajo clients, Cottam shows the family’s strengths: their integrity as business operators and the warm friendships they developed with customers and with the artists, writers, archaeologists, politicians, and tourists attracted to Navajo country by its unparalleled landscapes and fascinating peoples. Cottam traces the preservation efforts of Hubbell’s daughter-in-law after the Great Depression and World War II fundamentally altered the trading post business, and concludes with the post’s transition to its present status as a National Park Service historic site.
List of charter members of the society: v. 1, p. 98-99.

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