About an hour north on Highway 491 from Gallup, NM and west on Highway 264 is the small town of Ganado, AZ.
Ganado is the home of a very old, very historic trading post.
The Hubbell Trading Post was established in 1878 by a man named John Lorenzo Hubbell and is the oldest continuously operated trading post on the Navajo Nation. Mr. Hubbell was a Spanish interpreter for the United States military and familiar with the Navajo’s language and traditions. It is said he did not learn English until he was twelve years old. His diverse upbringing made it possible to communicate with numerous individuals thus making him a well-respected business leader in the region.
Trading posts throughout the west were used to barter for goods and supplies. Mr. Hubbell was known for his friendliness and honest business dealings with the various Indian tribes of the area. He acted as a liaison for many by writing letters on their behalf, settling arguments and explaining government policies. He even opened his home as a hospital during a smallpox outbreak.
The inside of the store looks much as it did many years ago and local Native Americans continue to bring their rugs and pottery to be traded or sold.
The round buildings on the grounds are called hogans. A hogan is a sacred home for the Navajo people. Even if they lived in a newer home, a hogan was needed for ceremonies and as a reminder of who they are. The hogans on the property were built by Mr. Hubbell for the Navajo and used as guest houses for various artists in residence.
Also on the grounds is the original barn and blacksmith shop
filled with artifacts
and a resident horse giving us the eye.
Churro sheep are raised here and this wool was waiting in the barn for someone to make something beautiful from it.
This picture depicts the various plants used for dyes
The corral surrounding the barn was nothing more than wooden posts held together with wire.
The bunk house is still on the property
as is the chicken coop that also houses a turkey named Frank (who, by the way, is a pet and not the main dish for Thanksgiving or so we were told….)
The bread oven was used daily when the post was in full operation
and provided hundreds of loaves throughout the week for meals and to be sold or traded at the post.
An old ambulance is parked on the side of the trading post and I can’t imagine how far it was to get medical attention. I would also imagine you would be ten times worse once you got there if you got there.
The cone-shaped hill behind the post is known as Hubbell Hill.
At the top of the hill is the family cemetery and Mr. Hubbell, along with his family and a few close friends are buried there.
Mr. Hubbell’s gravesite (the marker to the right) is strategically placed per his instructions so he would be able to look after the post in his afterlife.
In 1967, the National Park Service took responsibility for the trading post and made it a National Historic Site as well as a National Historic Landmark.
As I walked the grounds, I tried to envision life as it must have been at that time. The hardships and sadness they had to endure to live day to day. What brave people they must have been and how easy we have it today!