Hazel weaving.  NAU.PH.226.142   Florence Barker 1924. (detail)

1860-1925

Slideshow

Paul Begay:

Well, back in the old days in the 1860's, the Navajo people—my grandfather used to mention in his stories, even—that his parents and people in his parents' age group were known as raiders, thieves, murderers, and he sadly says it is true—this was the lifestyle of our people back then.  And this caused the government of this land…. they sent a man by the name of Kit Carson.  And so the roundup of the Navajo, because of their lifestyle…. they were rounded up between 1860 and 1864.  They were placed in a prison.  They were enclosed, controlled position, in a place called Fort Sumner, for four more years between 1864 and 1868.  The summer of 1868, based on the treaty between the Navajo people and the United States government, the Navajo people were released.  But they had to make a lot of agreements.  And so the Navajo chiefs placed their "X" on these agreements.  Probably one of the treaties that is most outstanding is that the Navajos will no longer go back to their old way of life…. They will become sheep people.

 

***

Bruce Burnham:

I could sit here and talk to you all afternoon about Navajo history.  It was my wife's great-great-grandfather that really caused the Long Walk to happen—the original Long Walk.  He was the chief of a band of Indians over around Mt. Taylor, and it was him that kept going out and raiding on these raiding parties in retaliation for the fact that the government wouldn't enforce the treaty to protect the Navajos—they only enforced it to protect the people from the Navajos.  So the Spanish people, the Mexicans, would herd their sheep and livestock onto the Navajo Reservation.  So in retaliation for that, my wife's great-great-grandfather would go and steal some of their kids and sell 'em as slaves, and stuff like that.

[He] was known to the military as Antonio Sandoval.  His Navajo name is Hosteen Kishkoli.  It means "the man with the club foot."  That's such a strong, revered name among the Navajos, that her family, about half of 'em, still carry that name Kishkoli. Since then we've come to suspect that she's also related to Lorenzo Hubbell.…

And, my great-grandfather and her great-great-grandfather may have traded together, because that was the route that my great-grandfather traded on, was that route down by the west slopes of Mt. Taylor, down to Chaco Canyon.

 

***

Bill Malone:

[Lorenzo Hubbell] was one of the first.  Most of your traders all float into the country when the Navajos come back from signing their peace treaty.  They had been acclimated to coffee beans, sugar, flour, yard goods, canned goods, and here came the trader—just like anywhere else. I'm not sure how many traders were here previous.  There doesn't seem to be too much said about the traders here previous to the peace treaty thing.  I don't think there were too many around, because this was Indian country.  You could get an arrow stuck in your back or anything like that.  And really, it was, you might say, the "settlers" coming through the country that complained that "the Navajos are stealing our horses, or oxen, or sheep," or whatever, that got the ball rollin' for the Army to go pick up the Navajos….  And in those days, the government wasn't very nice to Indian people.  I mean, it was pretty rough on 'em….

Lorenzo Hubbell was workin' kind of as a calvary scout, and he dropped out of that and he hung out around Fort Defiance quite a bit.  And he went into the trading business.  He was twenty-three years old at that time when he started…. He'd already roamed through the country.  He'd been up into Utah and whatnot, and this must have been the site he liked, was the Ganado area.  And he had a great relationship with Ganado Mucho, which was a Navajo head man here in this area.  In fact, he was saved by him one time.  I guess some Navajos kind of got hostile with him, but Ganado Mucho stepped in for him.

 

***

Paul Begay:

…And so when [the Navajos] came back to the Reservation in 1868, they were provided with sheep.  And they began to grow their little herds.  When they came back they saw that people had moved onto their land, and these people will be known later as traders.  Trading posts were set up many miles apart.

So probably one day, Mr. Yazzie, or Mr. Begay,  Mr. Todachini, somebody, some Navajo man, made a visit to this place…. So the Navajo and the trader began to communicate.  Probably nothing happened the first couple visits, until three, four other visits came by, they began to interact. He spoke his language, the Anglo person.  The Navajo spoke his language.  They began to try to figure each other out….  "Háádée’ish naniná,  Where are you from?"  Is probably the question that the Navajo wanted.  Of course the white man didn't understand—gotta figure this thing out.

They did not really have a way to work together.

Until after a while, the white man began to notice that the Navajo man carries a blanket around all the time, a woven blanket.  And the Navajo wife wore a woven dress.  The horse that he rides, he's got a blanket on top—maybe used to soften the impact of the backbone of the horse.  And so he notices, and the idea came about, "You know, this is probably a good way...."  And so the introduction of the rug was made to the world, to the metropolitan areas:  Chicago and New York.  And of course, when this happened, said "Look at these magnificent rugs!"

….And so the trader began to ask for the rugs.

The first purchase of the rug probably was placed on the wall.  And when the Navajo comes, the trader pointed at the rug.  This gave the understanding to the weaver that the trader wants this rug.  That way, he can give us the stuff that's in the back of his counter here.  And so they began to educate each other on how to work together.
 

***

Joe Tanner:

Seth [Tanner] was born in Bolton, New York.  His father was converted to the Mormon Church, and then Seth.  So he was completely involved in the whole Mormon migration and experience, from the very beginning.  He was born in 1829 in Bolton.  His father was a really important man, but I won't go into him, because Seth is the first trader among the American Indians from our family.

As he came west with the whole family, he became a reliable of Brigham Young.  He was a great fisher, great hunter, great scout, pathfinder, and Brigham relied on him a lot--as he did on everybody.  I'm not trying to say that Seth was one of Brigham's favorites, because Brigham certainly needed and relied on everybody.

But Seth-- best as I can figure out-- learned real early, as he went among the Indians, about them, and began to understand them, and began to understand the Indian's reverence for all of nature and all of nature's characters.  And Seth figured out at some juncture of time in his early life, he figured out if he became the bear, that would award him safe passage among the Indians….

Well, Seth became the bear, and his whole history, as I talked to all of the Indian community that knew bits and pieces of him, he was "Mr. Bear," Hosteen Shash.  He was the bear….he was a big man and a sound man.

He was about six-foot-two, and in our family that's big.  (laughs)  Tall.  Loved to ride a mule.  When he was among the Utes, he would wrestle with 'em, growl like a bear, fight like a bear, and that's his whole secret --not everybody who showed up in the West could peacefully coexist with the Indians.  Well, Seth could.

He had no fear, because of this great secret that he had….I can just close my eyes and think about Seth as he was in situations, all across the frontier, getting out of situations because of being "the bear," and being able to convey that to the Indian people that he was among.

 

***

Edith Nichols Kennedy:

Troy's dad came here to this area and homesteaded in 1887, I think it was.  He homesteaded some property down at Kirtland, New Mexico, when William McKinley was president.  He homesteaded 160 acres.  He began trading with the Indians from that time.  He would go with his wagon to Durango, Colorado, and he always carried a gun on his hip in those times.  I have his gun with ivory handles on it.  And he would go back and forth with his wagon, bringing supplies to the Kirtland area.  He started a little store there.  He had a farm on the property he had homesteaded.  And then he had stores at different places.

 

***

Bruce Burnham:

The prophet of the Mormon Church called my great-grandfather and his brother to come to Kirtland, New Mexico, to establish a branch of the Mormon Church there. That was in the late 1800s…. they built a church there in Kirtland, and then the prophet told my great-grandfather, "You stay there and support the missionary effort, and open areas of commerce and trading with the Indians."  That was how we came to be Indian traders.  My great-great-uncle was called to be the first bishop there.

My great-grandfather was trading from a wagon, and he would start in Mancos, Colorado, and trade all the way down to Gallup, across the reservation and back.  He'd leave Mancos with a wagonload of lumber.  Well, he might have a wagonload of sheep pelts by the time he got to Gallup—or rugs or whatever.  He'd load up there and head back the other way, just tradin' whatever he could trade.  He wasn't selling anything to anybody for cash, I don't think.  He took goods, comin' both directions.  So that was how he traded, and then my grandfather first built a store at a place they call Tsaya, which is over by Chaco Canyon.  And then after that he built the Burnham Trading Post….

That whole area of the reservation right there were people just like my father and grandfather who were actually from Kirtland, New Mexico.

That's where Russell [Foutz] came from.  See, the thing of it is, their fathers, that settled Kirtland and built farms there, were farmers, but there wasn't enough land there to support extended families farming, so they ended up being Indian traders as a source of income, instead of loadin' up and movin'.  A lot of 'em did move over around Blanding and Monticello, where there was farmland available, and Dove Creek and all out in there.  And they ended up moving out there.  But those that stayed in Kirtland, New Mexico, their extended families became Indian traders.

 

***

Russell Foutz:

Dad come from a polygamous family.  He was born at Kanab, Utah….. 1880-something, yeah.  But [he got into trading after settling in] a Mormon settlement in Tuba City.  I think he had three wives.  He had one up in the Utah area, I think.  And the government bought out that Tuba City area where they settled.  And of course they refused to sell their little piece of land that they had there, and it's still deeded land—it belongs to the Babbitt Company now.  I remember the first time I went through there, looking for it.  There's a little graveyard there, and I did find the headstone…. where one of dad's sisters was buried there.  He has a sister buried there.  He was in the trading business all his life.

[My dad moved to New Mexico] oh, somewhere between 1915 and 1920, in there someplace.  There was four of 'em down there, [former traders who founded] that Progressive Mercantile.  So every time anybody wanted anything, they would get the agency for it.  I think one time or other they had the Maytag agency; they was the first one to have the Chevrolet agency…. the Chrysler agency.  (chuckles)  They thought they could get it cheaper if they got the agency.
 

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Jim Babbitt:
 

When [the Babbitts] first came to Flagstaff in 1886, they were really interested in being cattle ranchers.  That was the thing that was really foremost in their minds.  Along the way, after they had been in the cattle ranching business, they also got into the mercantile business, and the lumber and hardware business--parts of which they had done back in their home town of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Never had a mind about, or any idea that Indian trading would be something that they would do….  they had never gone up into the Indian country in those early years.  And certainly never had any goal towards getting involved in that business.  It just happened in a very serendipitous way.

As part of their mercantile business, they conducted both wholesale and retail operations.  And for a lot of those small, kind of independent, entrepreneurial traders who were establishing themselves up in the Indian country, after the railroad came to Flagstaff, they had, for the first time, really, a source of supply for manufactured goods, for canned food and hardware and tools and kerosene lamps and so on and so forth.

So Flagstaff was the nearest source of supply for at least a lot of the small traders on what we know today as the western Navajo Reservation.

And in 1891, one of those people was a German Jewish merchant, Sam Dittenhoffer.  He had established himself at a little trading post--outpost if you will--at Tonalea, Arizona--Red Lake, about twenty-five miles up past Tuba City.  In those days, a completely remote and isolated little place.

And his source of resupply, after he conducted his trading business up there for a series of maybe weeks or months, and had taken in trade all these Indian-manufactured goods:  rugs, and baskets, and pottery, and silver and so forth.  He would load those on a freight wagon and come to Flagstaff to our wholesale operation, and he would exchange all of those Indian goods for a new supply of groceries and saddles and wool shears and wool dye--all the things that we supplied.

So in April of 1891, he had been in Flagstaff doing that business, and after he was done with the business part of his visit, went out and had a little round in the local saloons, and made the acquaintance of a young lady.

The two of 'em kind of hit it off pretty well.  She accompanied him back up to the trading post there at Red Lake a day or two later.

They had been up there not more than another day or two when another suitor of hers arrived on the scene, got in a fight with Mr. Dittenhoffer, and killed him out in front of the trading post, took his girlfriend or whatever, back to Flagstaff, and so that kind of left a little problem for my grandfather [C.J. Babbitt] and his brothers.

They extended a lot of this wholesale business to these small traders on credit, and so now they have this little isolated trading post up at Red Lake with an inventory that they had extended on credit, and literally now, no one minding the store.

So my grandfather went up there, never having been anywhere up in that Navajo country, went up there, found this little Red Lake outpost, went in, kind of got behind the counter.  He knew no Navajo language or anything, didn't know the trading business as such, but started doing it, and started communicating as best he could with the local Navajo people.  After doing that for a few days, he found that he really liked that sort of Red Rock country up there, that Navajo country; liked the local people, became kind of interested in their language and so forth.

But I think most of all, he really enjoyed this, what in those days was a real barter-trade kind of economy there.  There was no cash up there…. the Navajos didn't have payrolls or jobs or any way to get their hands on cash.  So it was truly a barter economy.

I think my grandfather kind of liked that.  You know, "I'll trade you three sacks of groceries and a kerosene lamp for your little rug, and maybe a silver belt," or what have you.  A far cry from business today, you know.  Accountants would be driven crazy by trying to account for those types of transactions.  But he liked it, got into it, and the family basically has been in it ever since that day.
 

***

Stella McGee Tanner:

Well, I was born at Kirtland, New Mexico….  I was born in 1906.  When I was about a year old, my parents lived with Grandpa McGee….  Grandpa, they called him Pappy McGee, and he had seven boys, and they always followed Pappy, all except two of 'em wouldn't go—the wives wouldn't let 'em.  And they went to Idaho to clear land.  And so we followed 'em up there, and my dad traveled with him until I was thirteen….  At first we went to Idaho, and then to Utah—Richfield—and done different things.  And then he and the boys ran a moving picture theater in Richfield, when they just had the kerosene lamps around to show the light.  And then he decided they'd go to Springdale, Utah, Zion's National Park.  So by that time they had four children.  We went up there, and there was no road at all, you know, going up to Zion's Canyon at that time.

We went in a covered wagon, all of us.  I can just see the horses today pulling 'em up over the heavy rocks.  And when we finally landed in Springdale, Pappy McGee, my grandfather, was already there with his wife and a couple of the others.  I remember so clearly that my mother got out of the wagon and looked all around, and she said, "Well, Elwood, all we need is a lid…"
 

***

The Lee’s-  Jack, Evelyn, Snick:
 

Jack:  My great-grandfather had the first trading post at Tuba City.  John Lee.
And his son and family lived at Tuba City.

My father and my Uncle Joe Lee left Tuba City in 1904, and went to the San Juan River.  That was when the government bought and made a reservation from all those farmers and Mormons that was at Tuba City.

My dad was the last one, they locked him in.  They locked his fence and they said, "You either get out, or we're gonna lock the fence."  So he danged near starved to death, and finally he left over there in, I think it was 1906.

Evelyn:  But Jack's father and Joe Lee, his father's brother, did start several trading posts in that area.

Jack:  You probably have the record of Joe Lee at The Gap Trading Post.

Snick:  And he built Shonto.

Evelyn:  And he built Tonalea, Red Lake, that Babbitts have now.

Jack:  And Cow Springs at Babbitts, and Uncle Joe's _____.

Snick:  When the government bought out the farms in the Tuba City area, that was the third drawing, re-drawing, of the Navajo Reservation.  See, they redid it three times.  The Navajos just kept movin'.  The first drawing was about at the Lukachukai Mountains.  And the second took in Ganado and toward Keams Canyon.  And the third drawing was when they removed the farmers at Tuba City and made that more of the Navajo Reservation.

Evelyn:  But his great-grandfather started Lee's Ferry.  And from prison he still ordered his grown and married sons to do what he wanted them to do, and he told Jack's grandfather, Joseph Hyrum, "Go run the ferry."  So he did, until it was sold.  And then he started a home in Tuba City….

He supplied the Powell expedition, he furnished their food.
 

Jack:  And the federal government chased him for forty years before they caught him, 'cause he killed all those people, they claimed, at Mountain Meadow Massacre.
 

***

Grace Bloomfield Herring:

I was born at Shiprock, August 4, 1910.  Shortly after that, my father [George Bloomfield] was working for the government service, and they sent him to Toadlena to build a school there.  And he went out that first summer and I think it was 1910 or '11.  I have documents to back this up in storage.  I think it was 1910 or '11 that the flood came down from up above and took Shiprock and everything away.

Mother had gone to stay with Dad at the [school]…. he was out there building it, and when they were out there that summer, the flood came down through Shiprock and just took everything out of her house—everything she had went down the river.  So she never did go back to Shiprock.

She picked up a few things and went back and then....  I've got the documents here that show when …..  I have the story in some of this material they got, where Dad tells about Mr. Shelton, who was the superintendent at Shiprock.  They went and applied to put a post at Toadlena, and Mr. Shelton said he would come out and help them pick the spot where they could put it.  So he did, he went out to the trading post and he showed them where they could put it, and that's where it is right today!
 

***

 

Mildred Heflin:

I was born in Farmington, New Mexico, in 1913. Farmington, New Mexico, was a small town in northwestern New Mexico. [My parents were] O. J. Carson and Jessie Carson….

I don't really remember much about growing up in Farmington. We lived on a small ranch, and we went out to the reservation when I was about two-and-a-half, three-and-a-half. We had to cross the San Juan River, because there was only one bridge at that time, and that was way down at Shiprock, and there were no roads, just trails. So when we went out to the reservation--there were not many places where you could cross the San Juan River at that time, because that was before they put in the big dam, and it was quite--in the springtime, it flooded, and it was very difficult. You had to know where to cross it, or you'd get bogged down in the quicksand. And so my uncles went with us and we went up to where we would cross the river, and my father had a very special horse which he trusted. So he took my sister and I--my sister was about one-and-a-half at the time--took her in front in the saddle, and I sat behind him, and we went across the river, forded the river. And then when we got across the river.... Well, my uncle helped us get across the river. Then when we got across the river, we were in a covered wagon, we had to carry our own food and all of our supplies. And as I recall, we had a crateload of chickens. That was very necessary, because there were no places to buy eggs or anything of the sort out there on the reservation

Anyway, in going out, unfortunately the crate of chickens fell off and all the chickens got away. But we had a wonderful dog, his name was Old Billy. He was a bobtail shepherd of some kind. I don't know what he was. But anyway, he caught all these thirteen chickens, and (laughs) my dad was able to get 'em back in the cage, which was very important.

And so it took us three days, camping each night, to get to Star Lake. And that's a place in New Mexico. Nobody ever heard of it, and right now I think.... I don't know who the big coal mining companies are in there now, but anyway, at that time, it was--kind of had sort of a little valley under a hill, and you could walk back up on top of the hill, and there would be smoke coming out of the cracks all along. The coal was burning underneath. But I understand they put out the fires, of course, and now they're mining it and using it for various things. I don't know whether they have a slurry line, like they do up on Black Mesa, or whether they have a train, which carries the coal down to a place between Grants and Gallup, and that's where they pulverize it or do whatever they do with it to make power.

 

***

Jim Babbitt:

With several trading posts doing this barter business in Indian arts and crafts, obviously you're going to amass a big store of this stuff.  And somehow you need to in turn sell that, or market that somehow.  So in the early days when there were just two or three trading posts, in our store here, downtown in Flagstaff, we always had some section either in that store building, or somewhere else in the downtown, that was our own retail—we called 'em curio stores—that sold Indian rugs and silver and pottery and that sort of thing.

But after the trading post network began to expand, there was even more than could be retailed through a location in Flagstaff.  So right around the turn of the century, our in-laws—my grandfather and two of his brothers—had married into this Cincinnati family, the Verkamp family.  My grandmother had a brother, John Verkamp, who…. came to visit in the summers a couple of times from Cincinnati, and found that he really liked Flagstaff, and in particular he liked the Grand Canyon.

And I guess even in the late 1890s, there were quite a number of tourists visiting in the summertime up at Grand Canyon.So my grandfather thought this would be a good way to market some of these Indian arts and crafts.

So he got his brother-in-law, John Verkamp, in the summertime, to take these rugs and silverware and pottery and baskets, with him up to the South Rim of the canyon.  They set up a little tent there, and John Verkamp sold for the Babbitt Brothers Trading Company, these Indian arts and crafts, for a couple of summers.  I think it worked out only fairly well, and so after a couple of summers, Verkamp quit that for a while, but then he came back a couple of years later, I think about 1904 or so, and established himself permanently there on the South Rim.  He actually settled there, built a building, and was in, and has been, in the Indian arts and crafts business there ever since.

 

***

John W. Kennedy:

My father was operating a general store at Guam, which is just…. this side of Gallup.  Guam was quite a trading center back in 1909 and 1910.  That was the end of the railroad, and the logging trains came out to Zuni Mountain to hit the main line there, so there was a good deal of train activity.  My mother came in on the train to Albuquerk [Albuquerque, New Mexico], when I was born.

As I tell people, there are two great things that happened in 1912:  statehood and I arrived.  (laughter)

From Guam, the store had been owned by Hans Neumann who later had the Gallup Mercantile Company in Gallup….  Hans backed [my father] on a project to go into the Navajo country.  So in the spring of 1913, he took wagonloads of building materials and hauled 'em out to Salina, which was about thirty-five miles from Ganado, and built the Salina Trading Post.

He operated the store for two years, 1913 through 1915.  He then sold the store…. [and] bought the store at Chinle—Chinle Trading Post there at the mouth of the canyon.  He bought it from a fellow by the name of McAdams….  Then my dad sold that to Cozy McSparron in January 1919.

And I remember we crossed the mountain in buckboards.  A buckboard is a seat with four wheels pulled by two horses.  There was about eighteen inches of snow across the mountain.  We got into the old sawmill late at night.  The next morning they spent hours trying to get an old Republic truck started.  They pulled it all over the flat with six horses, finally got it started, and we got down to Fort Defiance and stayed with Lewie Sabin that night.  Then the next day we went on into Gallup.

So we had a three-day trip.

Today you can do it in about an hour and twenty minutes, so time has changed quite a bit.
 

***
 

Ruth Bloomfield McGee:

I was born in Farmington in 1917, February 19, 1917.  When I was ten days old, my mother, in a wagon, took me to Toadlena in February.  Isn't that something?

….It was a great way to live, really neat.  We had a real nice home, Daddy and Mother, had made a real nice home.  Daddy had nice yards and had really made a lot of beautiful rock work with gardens and lawns.  We lived right near the mountain, and that was fun, because we were just like a bunch of goats, runnin' up and down the mountain (chuckles) having fun, and growing up there with my brothers and sisters.  What else?

….There were eight of us--one sister died when I was real young, three or four.  All raised there at Toadlena, went to school there till the eighth grade.  Then we had to be farmed out to go to high school and college.
 
 

***

Mary May Bailey:

{I was born] March 15, 1921, in Magdalena, New Mexico….

We lived out of Magdalena in the Datil Mountains, which is just about as cold as you can get anywhere in the world, except the Arctic. And it wasn't fit for mother cows, so they just raised steers and put them right on the market. And at that time, Magdalena, during World War I, was the biggest shipping point in the United States for beef for the Army.

While my father was in the Army, his father and his younger brother bought a whole lot of livestock at a humongous price, which were all steers, and after the war stopped, there was no sales, so they went busted and took out bankruptcy. It took them a long time to get it paid off.

So that is when we moved to Piñon. Now, do you know where Piñon is? (Underhill: Yes.)

Okay. In 1924, you can imagine what it must have been like. The roads were very poor. Our only contact with any other human being was with Lorenzo Hubbell and he was at Oraibi. So we went there and we played and we had a good time. We washed all the pottery and put it out and put it in a hospital--that took care of it. We rode stick horses. And then one day my sister decided she wanted to go on a picnic. So she went to my mother and she said, "Could we go way out in the country and have a picnic?" And Mother thought to herself, "Honey, we couldn't get any further out in the country than we are!" (laughter) But she made us a lunch and put it all in a little red wagon, and we went under the first piñon tree we came to and had a picnic.


***

Grace Bloomfield Herring:
 

Well, the trading post had those counters around like that, but you always have a lot of extra quilts and shawls up behind.  And when all this company would come, they had to be put someplace, so Mother would give them our bed in the bedrooms, and we'd take the quilts from the store and put 'em on the counter and sleep on the counter.  And I can remember many times sleeping on the counter and sneaking over and getting some cheese and crackers and tomatoes (chuckles) and eating 'em.  That was fun.  Those quilts in the store smelled like no others.  You just don't get the smell out of any of 'em anymore.

The salesmen used to come and stay.  They wouldn't come just one day, they'd stay two or three days 'cause it was fun—enjoyed it…. that little quilt that you've got there, right under your hands…. the salesman would come out with a bunch of samples, those suit samples, and you could order your suit from him.  Mother took that and made the quilt out of the samples that they left her.
 

***

Stella McGee Tanner:

[The Tanners] used to have the biggest house there in Kirtland, and all of us kids that lived in Kirtland, we liked to go down there and play with the girls.  One day when I was about fifteen, I guess, Josephine, one of the girls close to my age, said, "Oh, here comes brother Chunky."  That's what they called my husband.  His name is Rulel Lehi Tanner, but he didn't like it.  Whenever we'd go down there, it was on a weekend, and I had real long hair and I could sit on it, and she always put it in ringlets for the weekend.  And Josephine said, "Here comes Chunky," and he'd been down to Mesa.  He came in, and I immediately fell in love with him, because he came up, took hold of one of my curls and said, "This is the one I'm waitin' for!"  Of course, I believed him.  (laughter)  It went on for about another year, and he got engaged to somebody else, and he came home when I was sixteen, on Christmas I'd be seventeen.  He had a falling-out with his girlfriend.  Vera Burnham was her name.  So he started goin' with me in November, and we were married in January…. In 1924.  I'd just barely turned seventeen.

***

Russell Foutz:

My folks was runnin' the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post when I was born.  I guess they brought Mother in about a few days before, and I was born in Kirtland, New Mexico….

I started out in this, working for my dad in a store that was called Progressive Mercantile Company.  That was a little wholesale supply store at Kirtland, New Mexico.  They furnished financial backing and merchandise to quite a few of the stores on that part of the reservation.  I think at one time there was probably about twenty-two or something….

They was four partners involved in this.  All of 'em were ex Indian traders.  There was Burt Dustin, his brother, Shel Dustin, and my dad, who the Indians called ‘Ashkii biwoo’ bitsilí.   His brother was one of the founders of this business.  He was known as "the man with the big teeth," ‘Ashkii biwoo’, and so naturally my dad went as "the brother of the man with the big teeth."  The Indians would have a name for practically every trader that come on the reservation--they would attach a name to him.

Like one of the old traders was Shash yázhí, and that was Tanner.  He was built like a little bear, so they called him "Little Bear"….

The other partner was Willard Stolworthy who was married to one of Joe Tanner's daughters, so he was known as Shash yázhí biye’.  He was the son-in-law of him. …

Joe Tanner, he was one of these people that lived with the Indians, traded with the Indians….  In fact, he was the first one that brought any buffalo to the reservation.

He was a friend of Chee Dodge's—he got in good with Chee Dodge.  He talked Chee Dodge into developin' the artesian well out there the other side of Bisti, out in there.  He thought they could farm on it.  And then he bought a herd of buffalo.

He would take these buffalo to the Gallup Ceremonial.  The Indians would ride some of 'em.  I think he'd kill one buffalo and maybe twenty head of cows and sell buffalo sandwiches all during the Gallup Ceremonial.  He was quite a character of the early days of  the reservation.
 

***
 

Stella McGee Tanner:
 

Cole:  You were talking about Joseph Tanner.  Do you remember any stories about him?

Tanner:  Well, like I say, he spoke Navajo, Hopi, and Tewa.  I know when Chee Dodge....  Chee Dodge was first president of the Navajo people.  He was a wonderful friend to Grandpa Tanner.  He used to come and stay with us whenever Grandpa was around.

He spent a week at a time out at our trading post there at Tsaya, visiting with him.  And they would be talkin' a language that Chunk didn't know.  All my husband could speak fluently was the Navajo language.  And I remember one time they were in the living room just goin' on in this language that Chunk didn't understand at all.  And he come in and said, "I wish to hell you'd speak either Navajo or English so I could know what you're talkin' about!"  And I remember Chee Dodge sayin', "That's the reason we're doin' this.  We're talkin' Tewa."  (laughter)

But he was a very fluent speaker in the Hopi and the Navajo and the Tewa language—all three of 'em.  And the Zuni—he could speak fluent Zuni.  But he had a trading post there in Cortez.  That was before I married into the family.  He did really well with that, bought lots of cattle up there.  Then after he left the trading, then he owned a part of the Shiprock Trading Post there for years—him and....  Oh, what was his partner's name?  Anyway, there were two of 'em in there together.  They had that there for years.

 

***

 

Betty Wetherill Rodgers:

I was born at Lukachukai….   I just turned eighty-three just this last June 15, and I had a heck of a time tryin' to figure out when I was born, what year, and all that stuff…. We were on the eastern part of Arizona.  It's kind of in New Mexico and Arizona both, the mountain range.  And then from there, my Navajo family then, after I was a few years old, came to Kayenta, where the Wetherills established their home.  They were the first traders there, and they built a nice little trading post there for the Navajos to trade and stuff, you know.

And then I was taken from my Navajo people.  Then, the government just went out and just took kids to put 'em in school and so on.  I don't know why they picked me.  I was just a baby.  But I was placed at Tuba City is where we were all placed at that time.  They had a matron for the girls and one for the boys.  I was there 'til I was about four--goin' on four, I imagine.  They were very mean to us.  When we'd run away, or even speak a word of Navajo, they'd just more or less beat us.  But anyway, I never did like it there.  They just treated us like prisoners or something.

My [foster]mother [Louisa Wade Wetherill] then came to visit the Navajo kids, because she thought the world of the Navajo people, just like they were her own, and so on--or she was just a Navajo herself, really.  She came over there and found that they were treating the Navajo children real bad--the boys, too--and they were just beatin' us and such as that.  So she thought, "Well, this is gonna stop!"  So she went to Washington and told the president what was goin' on among the Navajos, and so she put a stop to all that….

She went on the train….  She says, "They're not treating my Navajo people right on the reservation at Kayenta where I'm established.  And I want it stopped, now."  So it was stopped.  Everybody got fired, kicked out--everything.

Steiger:  And after that it was better, as far as school goes?

Rodgers:  Oh, yes!  They started treatin' the Indians like human beings.  We got treated better, we got better food.  [Before] they gave us rotten old apples and stuff like that to eat.  The food was absolutely rotten, and they made us eat it or get beat to death.  Yes!

That's the way they treated us.  Yeah, when Mother Wetherill came to visit, she went over to the boys' dormitory and one boy was gettin' beat.  He was just bein' horse whipped.  He was tied to the bannister, and he was being beat.  Mother went in there and she said, "What is the meaning of this?!  Stop it right now!" she said to them.  "Right now I want it stopped!"  And they looked at her like, "who in the heck are you?" you know.  She said, "Is this what goes on all the time around here?"  "Yes, this boy ran away, and he had no business doin' that.  And he won't try to learn anything."  And oh, this man just raved on.  "Won't try to learn anything."  "Well, this isn't the way to treat him, just because he did all that."  And said, "Just seemed like that's the only way," the guy said to Mother.  Man! she just plowed right into him.  I never can think of his name.  Tried to tell somebody about that the other day, and I just couldn't think of his name to save me.
 

***

 

Grace Bloomfield Herring:

Underhill:  How did you get your news about the rest of the world, when you were out at the trading post?

Herring:  Well, we had a telephone, and we had radio.  I don't know when those came into being.  Other than that, we didn't need it.  We had enough to take care of with our own little lives.  You had to carry all your water, you had to do the washing this way (demonstrates using scrub board).  Life was not easy in those days.  I can remember when Mother got her first washing machine, and it was one that you went this way (demonstrates) with.  You washed there.  Other than that, we got up at four o'clock in the morning and did it on the washboard.  And every Monday morning was wash day.  Tuesday morning was ironing day.  Wednesday morning was something else.  The week was divided up.  We had duties each day of the week and Mother saw we did it.  She couldn't have survived without it.

Underhill:  How long was the average day for you?

Herring:  We had lots more time in those days than we have now.  We'd get up early in the morning and do our work.  In the afternoon, I can remember whole afternoons we had nothing to do but quilt and do what we wanted to do.  I don't know where the times changed.  The gears of the whole world have gone too fast.  I don't like this world, it's too hectic.  I'll go back to the old days.