Crownpoint Roars Back

March 18, 2017 by Mary Walker

The Crownpoint Rug Auction is Reborn

In August of 2014, the Crownpoint Rug Auction was cancelled as the result of financial mismanagement. The situation jeopardized the auction, a source of income for 100+ Navajo weavers. Crownpoint community leaders, the auctioneers, and concerned buyers formed a new association, the Navajo Rug Weavers Association in September of 2014.  After two plus years in operation, the new venture stands on solid ground.  

The association is headed by Crownpoint chapter president Rita Capitan and is staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers.  Buyers can now use credit cards with a 4% surcharge, a significant convenience that increases sales.  There are still some growing pains. Lines to check rugs in are long.  Both buyer and seller checkout lines  become lengthy at the end of the auction.   Sales slow in the winter, but pick up as the summer and fall travel seasons approach.  

Ready to Go to the Crownpoint Rug Auction?  

Lena Tahe Rug at the Crownpoint Rug Auction

Lena Tahe's unique feather design was a crowd favorite at the February 2017 Crownpoint Auction. Lena drives over three hours to bring her pieces to Crownpoint.

The auction is held on the second Friday of each month.  It is held at the Crownpoint Elementary School cafeteria.  Weavers start checking their rugs in at 4:00 PM and the auction is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm.  Auction intake continues, though, until all the rugs are checked in, which can delay the auction start, sometimes by about half an hour.  Between 4:oo PM and 6:30 PM, buyers can preview the rugs, shop the vendor tables for jewelry, pottery and other Native American crafts.  There are usually Navajo tacos and frybread for sale.  

There are no overnight accommodations in Crownpoint and most buyers stay in Farmington, NM or Gallup, NM.  You'll be driving 50-70 miles in the dark on reservation roads.  All are paved, but it's wise to observe the posted speed limit and be observant in case there is livestock on the road.  If you think that you see a horse walking down the middle of the road, you probably do.  

Is it Worth the Trip?  

Absolutely.  You can help a weaver keep the lights on, keep the truck running and maybe even buy a few extras.  The rugs range in price from $20 to over $5000.  Weaver's pay a 15% commission, so a $1000 sale will net the weaver $850.  There is no buyer's premium.  Some of the best buys are the larger rugs.  If you find a rug that you like, it's a good idea to have a price range in mind.  When the bidding starts, you can easily get caught up in the excitement of the auction and spend more than you'd intended.  Finally, although each rug has a number, the rugs don't come up in any sequence, so you don't know exactly when the rug you're interested in will come up. 

Watch a Rug Sell! 

Crownpoint Rug Auction bidder

A bidder gets ready for the auction!

When your rug does come up, you need to be ready to act in a hurry. The auction is fast paced.  Take a look at the recent sale of Susie Chee Bahe's Storm Pattern at the March 2017 auction.  Now, mind you, this is about the most exciting two minutes of bidding that has happened at Crownpoint in the last five years, but you don't want to miss the next one like this, do you?  Of course not.  The next auction is on April 14.  See you there!  You can get more information at the Rug Auction at Crownpoint web site.


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