Teresa J. Wilkins of the University of New Mexico, Gallup has taken up the highly charged subject of the relationship between weavers and traders in her new book, Patterns of Exchange: Navajo Weavers and Traders. I’m just getting started reading it, but I like Dr. Wilkins approach, which analyzes the complex ways in which both weavers and traders gained from the process.
Many people believe that the trader holds all the power in a system designed to exploit and manipulate the weaver. As Wilkins points out early in her work, this view assumes that weavers lack the will and initiative to attempt to overcome any inequities. A trader can be so integral to a community that if he leaves a trading post, it’s front page news. As one of my friends wisely observed, “it can be hard for outside people to understand how a trader balances his books”.
I’ll write a more thorough review when I complete the book. It’s available from Amazon if you want to purchase a copy.