Crownpoint Rug Auction, End of Class, Traders Gathering and Welcome Back to Bill Malone

A beautifully detailed Burnham rug by Sandy Begay of Burnham, New Mexico

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.

Frank Lister (left) and Bill Malone at the Trader's Gathering at the Navajo Nation Museum

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.

Traders Hank Blair, Al Grieve, Bruce Burnham and Bill Malone at the Trader's Gathering

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.

Vicky, Hank and Bill

From left, Vicki Blair, Hank Blair and Bill Malone at the Trader's Gathering. It's great to see you, Bill!

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)

Mary Walker

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  1. Mary Walker on October 11, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Ann Hedlund estimates that there are about 20,000 to 25,000 active Navajo weavers, and this site doesn’t attempt to provide a complete listing of all of them. What I have done is to try to provide links with weavers who have active web sites or email addresses. If there’s a specific weaver that you’d like to contact, I’ll certainly try to help you. Many weavers are not familiar with the concept of commission work and don’t take them, but others are very happy to work with you on that basis.

  2. Natalie Swan on October 11, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Does this site contain a complete list of the weavers?
    Is it acceptable to contact a weaver and commission them to make a rug?
    Thank you,