This Trading Post Is One of the Longest Running Sites
Credit: Nuestro Stories
Hubbell Trading Post -- Ganado, Arizona. Open since 1878, the Hubbell Trading Post is one of the oldest operating trading outposts in the American Southwest. Likened as one of the earliest societal hubs of the colonized west, trading posts forced white, Indigenous, Mexican and Spanish people into the same space for the sake of mutual benefit and survival. Though clearly, some survived far more than others.
John Lorenzo Hubbell was one of the few traders in the area who was able to strike a decent relationship with the nearby Navajo tribes. Most Navajo had been forcibly removed from the surrounding land in the early 1860s when the colonizer, Kit Carson, began his brutal campaign under the guise of gold. Per instructions from his captain, Carson enacted what is known as a scorched earth policy, in which troops were ordered to destroy the Navajos livelihood by killing their livestock, burning homes and crops, and murdering at will. Those who survived the initial wave were forced to walk over 300 miles from Arizona to Fort Sumner, New Mexico in what is now known as the Long Walk.
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Eventually coming to a reservation called the Bosque Redondo, the Navajo were forced to assimilate, attending school, practicing Christianity. As they had been cut off from their normal hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the Navajo became dependent on the traders who came with daily supplies – especially when the Navajo were allowed to return to their homes in the late 1860s.
Which is where John Lorenzo Hubbell came in.
As a mobile trader, Hubbell had spent plentiful time traveling the Southwest. Unlike most traders, Hubbell took the time to learn the language, and the customs of the Navajo people. His previous work as an interpreter for the military taught him the benefit of understanding the cultures and people that surrounded you. It was that knowledge that allowed him to build a rapport with the tribes as they returned to Arizona. Not only did he establish the only truly successful trade between Anglo and Navajo, he also assisted the tribes in adjusting to the new version of their lives as they returned back to Arizona. The Navajo often attributed Hubbell's actions and special attention with the tribes to his Latino lineage. Known as The Old Mexican, Hubbell had a white father and a Mexican mother. She was a mother who ensured he was connected to his cultural background, which centered an "it takes a village" mentality; when one of us is lifted we all are.
Today, the Hubbell Trading Post is a National Historic Site that remains open to the public.
If You Go
- The trading post is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter.
- There is an admission fee to get in.
- Indigenous artists still sell their arts, wares, and crafts there to this day.
Location: Ganado, AZ 86505
Address: 1/2 Mile W, Hwy. 191
You can visit it virtually.
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By Liv Styler
Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.