Window Rock, AZ We concluded our October class with a trip to the Crownpoint Rug Auction, about 70 miles east of here. The auction is held each month at the Crownpoint Elementary School and is in it’s 41st year. Last night, approximately 120 bidders vied for about 170 rugs. There were some no sales, and the prices are probably about 30% or so lower on average than they were in 2007. There are more small rugs, which many weavers say are selling better right now than larger pieces. The Burnham rug in the picture ablove is by Sandy Begay and sold in the auction last night (I think the purchase price was $500). Our group of six did our part to find homes for several of the rugs. I’ll have more on the pieces that we purchased and a full review of our week in next week’s posts.
Today, we packed up the classroom and after all of our students where on their way home, Jennie Slick and I attended the Traders Gathering at the Navajo Nation Museum, which is just a short walk from the Quality Inn where we hold our classes. This event is a chance for both non-Diné and Diné traders to meet and share the trading post experiences of the past and the outlook for the future. The group attending was small but very engaged, with most people attending either posing a question or issue or participating in the following discussion. There are very few true trading posts left and the future doesn’t seem to bode well for ensuing generations. The current market, the regulatory environment and increased mobility are threatening to write the final chapter on the few trading posts that remain on the reservation. Many people in the audience hope for a different outcome.
The event was also a welcome back for trader Bill Malone of Shush Yaz in Gallup, NM. Bill was critically ill for most of the summer, but is recovering and has now returned to work on a part time basis. We marked the event with a cake decorated with a “Welcome Back from the Brink” greeting and delicious lunch catered by the Culinary Department at the Navajo Technical College.
Bill’s friends will be pleased to know that there’s a book on Bill’s career in the works. It will deal extensively with Bill’s career from it’s earliest days and will include his departure from the Hubbell Trading Post and his . I’m hoping to interview the author for an upcoming post.
It’s been a busy week, and I’m headed back to Phoenix tomorrow after a stop at the Hubbell Trading Post for a tour for attendees of the Trader’s Gathering. I’ll post some pictures tomorrow evening.
Hagoshíí (so long for now)