Yesterday was one of the saddest days of my life. The venerable Crownpoint Rug Auction was abruptly cancelled amid severe financial problems. Weavers have reported difficulties with returned checks for the last few months and this reached a crisis level in July as check cashing establishments throughout the area are refusing to accept any checks written by the auction association. Some people who were holding returned checks have reported that they’ve been able to collect the money in the last week, but the damage has already been done.
What’s Happened to the Crownpoint Rug Auction?
It isn’t clear what’s happened to the money that buyers have paid for rugs, but the Crownpoint chapter government has reportedly stepped in and will determine the future of the auction in the current location. The auction is an important venue that was established in 1968 and allows weavers to sell their work almost directly to buyers who came to Crownpoint from all over the world. In its heyday, the auction could last until after midnight as 300+ rugs were sold. Although the number of rugs and weavers has diminished over the years, weavers still drive well over 100 miles each way to sell their weavings there and in a typical month, 150 rugs are sold at prices set by the weaver. The auction provides crucial competition in a marketplace where the supply is concentrated in “border towns” like Gallup, NM and Flagstaff, AZ, tending to drive prices down.
What Will Happen Next?
There are many weavers and other local business people who are beginning to organize to either save the Crownpoint Rug Auction or establish a new venue. The next four to six weeks are probably crucial and I’ll provide you with updates on the situation as it develops. I’m encouraged by the stature and quality of the people who are stepping forward to help. I’m hoping that the saddest day will be followed by a much better tomorrow for the weavers and for those of us who support their work.
Hagoshíí (so long for now)