If you're interested in Native American art but are hesitant to purchase such items for fear they're not authentic, here's a chance to get the real deal, right from the artists themselves. The Friends of Hubbell Trading Post are holding their semi-annual Native American Art Auction at the national historic site on Saturday, September 19.
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is located in northeastern Arizona. A park publication provides some background for the area:
John Lorenzo Hubbell purchased a trading post here in 1878, ten years after Navajos returned to their homeland from their terrible exile at Bosque Redondo, Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. During the four years held at Bosque Redondo, Navajos were introduced to many new things. After they returned home, traders like Hubbell supplied those new items for the Navajo.
Hubbell family members operated this trading post until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1965. The trading post store is still active. Now operated by Western National Parks Association, a non-profit co-operating Association they carry-on the trading business the Hubbell family established. Hubbell is the Navajo Nation's oldest continuously operating trading post.
So, what about this auction? Friends of Hubbell is
a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to Navajo and Hopi college students, promotes Native American arts and crafts and aids the National Park Service at the national historic site.
A similar auction is held twice a year by the group, which explains it's purpose:
We … assist the park in many ways including hosting biannual Native American Arts & Crafts Auctions where indigenous artists sell their ceramics, katsinas, rugs, and other items. Our auctions provide Native Americans a profitable outlet for their handcrafted goods …your purchase benefits not only the artisan, but the park as well. Moreover, auctions are in keeping with the park's heritage.
The auction will begin at noon, daylight saving time with the preview from 9:00 to 11:00 am. The event is held in a big tent at the National Historic Site. Arts, crafts and food vendors will also be open all day long. Only authentically handmade Native American art objects will be accepted in the auction and at the vendor tables.
Over 400 items will be offered in the auction including contemporary and antique Navajo weavings, Pueblo Katsina dolls, pottery, paintings, carvings and baskets from several tribes ranging in price from just $20 to over $4000.
Good quality Native American art has been highly valued by collectors for many years, and when you ponder the prices for items such as a woven rug, keep the following information from the park website in mind:
How long does it take to weave a rug? Depending on the size, the average rug (2.5 feet by 4 feet) takes 3-4 months when working 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. Good weavers can complete approximately 2 and a half square inches per hour.
If you plan to visit Hubbell for the auction, don't let the time trip you up. Most of Arizona is on Mountain Standard time; the Navajo Nation is on Mountain Daylight Time, so it's an hour later at Hubbell Trading Post than it is in places such as Phoenix. If you arrive at the auction at high noon Flagstaff time, you'll miss the first hour of the event!
In addition to the auction the Hubbell family home will be open for tours in the morning and the trading post store will be open throughout the day.
Hubbell Trading Post is located about 60 miles west of Gallup, New Mexico, 200 miles west of Albuquerque and 180 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona. The park website includes driving directions to the site.