GANADO, Ariz. — Rich in history, the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, located in the Navajo Nation, has been operating since it was opened by a young John Lorenzo Hubbell in 1878.
The trading post was kept in the Hubbell family until 1967 when it was sold to the National Park Service by Hubbell’s daughter-in-law, Dorothy Smith Hubbell.
Hubbell arrived after Col. Christopher “Kit” Carson implemented the scorched earth policy that burned the Navajo’s crops, forcing their subsequent relocation to Fort Sumner in New Mexico. When they returned to their lands in Arizona, Hubbell was there and forged a relationship with the people.
According to information from the NPS, Hubbell was instrumental in being a mediator; he helped write correspondence for the Navajo, and explained “government policies” to them.
“Out here in this country, the Indian trader is everything from merchant, to father confessor, justice of the peace, judge, jury, court of appeals, chief medicine man and de facto czar of the domain over which he presides,” the information quotes Hubbell as saying.
“John Lorenzo Hubbell came here as a young man,” NPS Ranger Tina Lowe said recently. “He could speak both English and Spanish and he quickly learned our language.”
Lowe, a Navajo, believes Hubbell stopped and stayed in the area due to a water supply from the Pueblo, Colorado Wash that is nearby.
She added that Hubbell married a Spanish woman, Lina Rubi, of Cebolleta, New Mexico Territory. They had five children.
One can tell Lowe loves her job as she explains the many functions of the buildings and the history behind the trading post. The site still boasts several buildings including the Hubbell home, barn, corral, chicken coop, bunkhouse and couple of Navajo hogans. Lowe said a vegetable garden is grown each year and the site has Navajo-Churro sheep. The sheep are rare and have four horns; their wool is used to weave Navajo rugs.
“We had 100 lambs born this year,” she added.
She added that besides the sheep and horses at the trading post, they only have one, lone llama on site.
“The llama acts as a body guard for the sheep,” she said smiling.
When anyone gets too close the lama it will look them in the eye, tap its foot and then wait for them to get close enough so it can release a load of spit.
The trading post’s “bullpen” not only sells small trinkets for visitors, but still offers usable goods such as 20-pound sacks of Blue Bird flour, bags of coffee or cookware. Handwoven Navajo rugs are for sell in the rug room as well as handcrafted silver and turquoise jewelry and Native American pottery and art in the jewelry room.
“Many of the (Navajo) women will still come in to trade their handwoven rugs for supplies,” Lowe said.
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It is located off Arizona state Route 264, about a mile west of U.S. Highway 191, in Ganado. The trading post, visitor center and grounds are free to tour; it costs $2 per person to tour the Hubbell home; free for age 15 and younger. For more information call 928-755-3475 or visit nps.gov/hutr.
Reach Faith Bemiss at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.