Special Collections and Archives blog

Kin Teel and Pine Springs: A Look into 20th Century Trading Posts

Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) Trading Post Entrance, circa 1945.

In the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries, trading posts were common on reservations in the southwest. Traders formed close relationships with the indigenous groups they lived and worked with, often providing more services than just as a trader. One such group of traders were Bill Lippincott, Sallie Wagner, and Bill and Jean Cousins at Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) and Pine Springs Trading Posts on the Navajo Nation. Bill Lippincott and Sallie Wagner owned Kin Teel and Pine Springs from 1938 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1949. 

Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) Trading Post Exterior, circa 1940.

During their time there, Lippincott and Wagner photographed the landscape and people in the Colorado Plateau. These photographs were curated into photo albums by Sallie Wagner and are available to view on the Digital Archives and in person at Special Collections and Archives. Also included in the Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) and Pine Springs Trading Post Records are business ledgers that document daily transactions at the trading posts, allowing a window into the operations of trading posts in the 1930s and 1940s. The manuscript portion also contains Bill Lippincott’s advocacy documents concerning Hopi and Navajo education and life ways. 

This collection provides a unique look at life on the Navajo Nation and interactions between traders and the communities they lived in. 

Here are links to the Kin Teel/Wide Ruins Trading Post finding aid on Arizona Archives Online and photos from our digital archives.

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