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Our Corner of the Southwest

  • Kinaaldá Navajo Coming of Age Ceremony

    Kinaaldá Navajo Coming of Age Ceremony

    “The ceremony was started so women would be able to have children and the human race would be able to multiply.” (Frisbie:1967)

    It was late November when my friends and I set out for a Kinaaldá, Navajo coming of age ceremony for girls. We drove in the dark over rutted dirt roads high in the Chuska range and arrived at the family’s Sawmill home near midnight. After parking our car under some tall pines we walked towards the gathering. The sacred corn cake (alkaan) cooked in a large, circular pit east of the hogan and a fragrant fire of pinon and juniper burned nearby. Small groups of darkly clad Navajo stood quietly, illuminated by the light of the fire.

    Kinaalda Coming of Age Ceremony Preparing hole to cook Alkaan

    We pushed aside a blanket covering the hogan doorway and entered ritually, to the left. The hogan was filled with thirty or more people and its old, log walls were decorated with brightly colored weavings. This was the final night of the four day ceremony.

    I remember the Kinaaldá as a moving night of sanctity, song and prayer. The girl of honor sat at the western end of the hogan dressed in traditional Navajo clothing: velvet blouse, satin skirt, white leggings, red sash and turquoise beads. She wore a white shell necklace, heavy concho belt and numerous turquoise bracelets. The aging medicine man with black headband sat to her right, while her female relatives sat on her left.

    The purpose of the Kinaaldá, or Puberty Ceremony, was to initiate the young girl into womanhood, to identify her with the Holy person Changing Woman, to call the Holy People to her in song and prayer, to bless and protect her. “One cannot overestimate the importance of this rite in creating a positive self-image in a young girl.” (Shepardson:1995)

    Throughout the night and early morning timeless rituals were performed. The girl was blessed and touched with corn pollen. Her hair and jewelry were washed with yucca soap in a Navajo Wedding basket, and her cheeks were painted with white clay. The medicine man and his three assistants were the lead singers during the night. When they paused for a break, other men in attendance sang Blessingway songs. I noticed a lively competition in the singing. I’d read that a Navajo man’s wealth was determined by the number of songs that he knew. Songs represented knowledge and knowledge was the greatest wealth a man could possess.

    Kinaalda - Coming of Age Ceremony Alkaan ccoking in the ground

    In the predawn hours the medicine man spoke earnestly to the girl. He told her that the Holy People were now with her, watching her; that she was now a woman, a Bride of the Sun. He spoke about prosperity, riches and abundance. The medicine man said that she had to set a plan for her life. “Draw out your life today. Draw the events, the course of your life as you see it, as you want it. Your life can’t manifest until you do.” He repeatedly stressed the importance of specificity in designing one’s life and gave a prescription to the girl: 1) Know what you want. 2) Draw it. 3) Write it. 4) Ask for it. 5) Pray for it. 6) Receive it. “The Holy People are there for you,” he said. “They want you to prosper. They’re the source, the seat of abundance.”

    When first light appeared the girl left the hogan for her daily “running to greet the Sun.” The purpose of this running was to strengthen the girl and prepare her for life’s challenges. Many young women joined her. We heard their voices crying out as they ran towards the eastern sky. When the girl returned, red-faced and out of breath, it was time for her to be “shaped.” Her mother and aunt spread Pendleton blankets on the ground in front of the hogan door. The girl lay on her stomach, head to the west, and a mature, “Ideal” woman began molding her with her hands, shaping her so that she’d grow up to be strong, straight, healthy and beautiful.

    Throughout the entire Kinaaldá the girl was considered to be Changing Woman herself, with all of her fruitful and regenerative powers. On this final morning the young initiate bestowed blessings on those in attendance. Many of us, especially the children, stood with our backs to her as she raised her arms up and over our ears so we would grow to be tall and healthy. “The perception that she has the power to offer blessings to participants at the Kinaalda´ signifies the degree to which her status has been raised through the absorption of the traits of Changing Woman and, indeed, the belief that she has been transformed into Changing Woman. This identification is the most important aspect of the Kinaaldá.” (Markstrom:2003)

    Kinaalda - Coming of Age Ceremony Keana with Medicine Man Lawrence Begay

    When this ritual was over we returned to the hogan and the women served the morning meal. They passed around steaming plates of mutton stew, yellow corn, potato salad and biscuits. Everyone drank strong black coffee poured from a big, blue enamel pot.

    In the last rite of Kinaaldá the four foot wide corn cake was ceremonially cut into slices, removed from the cooking pit and brought into the hogan. The girl then served the sweet, warm cake from a Wedding Basket to those who filed past. This special cake, the corn of which the girl had ground on ancient grinding stones, the batter which she’d stirred with greasewood sticks and the cornhusk liner which she’d stitched by hand, contained everything sacred to the Navajo: “…the sun and earth; male and female; the Holy People, first of all beings; corn, and by extension vegetation; the cardinal points; zenith and nadir.” (Lincoln:1981)

    At midmorning my friends and I wound our way back over the mountains to Gallup. The day was crystal clear and despite our sleepless night we each felt a heightened awareness. It was a rare privilege to witness this coming of age ceremony for a Navajo girl. I whispered a prayer of thanks.

  • How to Build a Pueblo Bread Oven

    Build your own Pueblo Bread Oven Build your own Pueblo Bread Oven

    How to Build a Pueblo Bread Oven

    First, you are going to want to learn how to make adobe mud. This is going to be a dirt, clay, straw and water mixture. The important thing here is you want a consistency you can work with. Once you have the mud you are going to need some type of mold to shape the bricks. A wooden brick mold is a popular choice in this area.

    How to insturctions build adobe Pueblo Bread Oven Adobe Bricks

    Second, you are going to start and build your base. This is going to be a base of mortar (a combination of cement and sand) and coarse stones. It will be personal preference if you want to make the base round or square. Eventually the base is going to be plastered for a clean finished look.

    How to insturctions build adobe Pueblo Bread Oven Base to the Bread Oven
    How to insturctions build adobe Pueblo Bread Oven The oven, finished on outside left unfinished in the inside

    Third, you are going to start building the oven. Remember you are going to want a big stone pad for the floor of the entrance, as well as a large slab that will cover the opening during cooking. You are going to build the oven using those adobe bricks and mortar. When you have the oven built you are going to put a 1" thick cover of plaster (mixture of dirt and clay) over the oven and base.

    How to insturctions build adobe Pueblo Bread Oven View of oven construction
    How to make a Pueblo Bread Oven Top view of inner oven.
    How to insturctions build adobe Pueblo Bread Oven Dimensions of finished oven

    Last, bake some bread and enjoy. Next time we will share with you a recipe and how to heat your oven.

    How to insturctions build adobe Pueblo Bread Oven Bread with butter & jelly

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Navajo Taco Recipe

    Navajo Taco RecipeNavajo Taco Recipe

    Now that we have shared the recipe for delicious Navajo Fry Bread, it is time to make the most famous Navajo dish of all. You will find the Navajo Taco served in local restaurants, sold on the sides of highways here in the Four Corners and a favorite at area carnivals and fairs. Follow this easy Navajo Taco Recipe for dinner tonight.

    Step 1

    Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Navajo Fry Bread Recipe

    First thing you are going to need and some delicious Navajo Fry Bread. Follow this easy to use recipe.

    Step 2

    Prepare your Pinto Beans

    Start by separating your Pinto Beans. Making sure you have no small pebbles in those beans.

    Navajo Taco Recipe

    Add the beans to boiling water. They will be tender in 3 - 4 hours.

    Step 3

    Navajo Taco Recipe

    About 30 minutes before the beans are done start cooking your ground beef.

    Step 4

    Navajo Taco Recipe

    Mix the beans and meat together. You can also add a little flavoring for taste. Red chile powder is popular here. You also see chopped green chile added or a taco seasoning packet as common choices.

    Step 5

    As the beans, meat and seasoning are blending flavors together in the pot you want to get your toppings ready.

    Navajo Taco Recipe

    Navajo Taco Recipe

    Navajo Taco Recipe
    Navajo Taco Recipe

    Step 6

    Assemble and enjoy!

    Navajo Taco Recipe

  • How to Build a Navajo Hogan

    How to make a Navajo Hogan How to make a Navajo Hogan

    How to Build a Navajo Hogan

    Have you been thinking about getting back to nature? Maybe adding a tree house to your yard? Well, you might want to consider a Navajo hogan. It is just going to take some manual labor, a vision and an admiration of a style of dwelling that has housed inhabitants of the Four Corners for centuries. Follow our easy "How to Build a Navajo Hogan" instructions.

    Remember, we are going to make this hogan in the traditional Navajo way. So it all begins with a prayer. One that asks for a good home.

    praying for good home

    Now, we have to go and gather lumber. Here in the Four Corner's we use cedar logs. You are going to try and get logs that are straight as possible. Remember, you are going to need a lot of them.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    This is going to be lots of work. Once you have these logs cut you are going to need and get them to your building site. So, make sure you bring some reliable transportation.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    Once you have the logs at the work site you are going to have to prep them. You are going to want to take the bark off of the trees and put the notches into the logs.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    Now, that you have some logs that are ready to be turned into a hogan you start assembling. Remember that you are going to have the doorway facing to the east.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    Don't get discouraged. Once you have the sides of the hogan up, it will start to look great. The roof is next.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    The hogan is almost done.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    One of the most impressive things about a hogan is the roof. It is layers of logs that creates a nice cone shape, and places the chimney in the center. We have provided a view from the top of the roof, and one looking up into the ceiling.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

     

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    Now, you are going to cover the roof and and chink the walls with clay.

    How to make a Navajo Hogan

    It was a journey to make your first hogan, but the "How to Build a Navajo Hogan" instructions make it straight forward. In the beginning we set out to do this in the traditional Navajo ways, and that means we end our journey with another blessing of our hogan.

    It was a journey to make your first hogan, but the "How to build a Navajo Hogan" instructions make it straight forward. In the beginning we set out to do this in the traditional Navajo ways, and that means we end our journey with another blessing of our hogan.

  • Navajo Fry Bread Recipe

    Navajo Fry Bread Recipe

    Navajo Taco stand on the Navajo Nation Navajo Taco stand on the Navajo Nation

    You can't go far in the Four Corners without finding some Navajo fry bread for sale. This legendary Native American bread is found at fairs, rodeos, ceremonials, pageants, graduations and any other reason to celebrate. It can be eaten alone, with honey or as a full meal when served as the Navajo Taco. Below you will find the Navajo Fry Bread Recipe.

    Step 1

    Navajo fry bread ingredients flour, salt, baking powder and hot water Navajo fry bread ingredients flour, salt, baking powder and hot water

    3 Cups Flour
    1 Pinch Salt
    3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
    1 Cup Hot Water

    Mix ingredients together in large mixing bowl. If dough starts to stick, add more flour. If dough starts to clump together, add more hot water.

    Step 2

    Navajo fry bread rising in bowl Navajo fry bread rising in bowl

    After mixing dough ingredients cover in a bowl and let rise for 10 - 15 minutes.

    Step 3

    Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Heat 175 Degrees Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Heat 175 Degrees

    Heat 16" diameter skillet to 175 degrees. Pour in corn oil or lard and let heat.

    Step 4

    Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Roll Out Dough Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Roll Out Dough

    Flatten dough into a 14" circle with rolling pin.

    Step 5

    Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Cook Until Brown Navajo Fry Bread Recipe Cook Until Brown

    Place rolled dough into skillet. Fry each side until color is golden brown.

    Step 6

    Navajo Fry Bread Recipe, Let Cool Navajo Fry Bread Recipe, Let Cool

    Add a little honey and enjoy!

  • History of Zuni Trading Posts: Esther Vanderwagon

    history of Zuni trading posts Esther Vanderwagen

     

    EVanderwagen1

    Intro
    New Mexico has a rich history associated with the Wild West, Santa Fe Trail, Billy the Kid, and Native Americans. The state has the misfortune of being the home of the Long Walk and the fortune of having the largest Native American population in the United States. Some families have very close ties with the history of these people and one of those families is the Vanderwagens.  Esther Vanderwagen shares some of the history of Zuni trading posts with us.
    Perry Null Trading
    Lets first start with how Vanderwagen, NM got its name?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    In the early 1940s a family by the name Keeleys owned the White Water Trading Post and they wanted to create the town White Water. However, the name White Water already belonged to a town in southern New Mexico. The Keeley’s daughter was married to Richard Vanderwagen, and since the Vanderwagen was well known in the area they used his last name for the town (it serves as a Post Office where people in the area receive their mail).
    Perry Null Trading
    When did your family come to this area?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    My mother and father, Grace and Albert Garnaat, were missionaries for the Christian Reform Church and came to Orabi (Hopi Reservation) in 1941. Soon after they arrived in Arizona they went to do mission work closer to the Gallup area. When we came from Michigan I was in the fourth grade.
    Perry Null Trading
    Were their a lot of missionary families here?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    That is how my family came to know the Vanderwagen family. Effa and Andrew Vanderwagen were also from the Christian Reform Church and in 1896 went to Zuni, NM from Michigan to do missionary work. My family met them in 1943 when my parents moved to this area.
    Perry Null Trading
    The Vanderwagen family is known for being a Zuni Indian Trader family, how did they get involved in the trading business if they were missionaries?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    It didn’t take them long to figure out that they would not be able to survive on a missionary wage, so they opened a trading company in Zuni. In 1900 they opened Vanderwagen Trading in Zuni. At that time it served many purposes and they offered many dry goods and groceries.
    Perry Null Trading
    Your husband is one of their son’s, Ernie Vanderwagen, did you meet him in at the same time your family met the Vanderwagens?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    No, I did not meet him until 1947. He had served in World War II and his duty with the Navy kept him in service from 1942 until 1946. Ernie did his service in the Pacific. It was not until 1949 before we would get married.
    Perry Null Trading
    Was Ernie involved in the family business?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    Ernie was around the family business from a very early age. He was fluent in the Zuni language which made it very easy for him to build relationships with the local Zuni craftsman. When he was twelve one clan proposed initiation into the clan which would allow him to dance in the ceremonies. However, his mother would not hear of such a thing.
    Perry Null Trading
    After you had married was the trading business going to be your new families trade?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    We had left the area briefly after we married, but came back in 1951 to run a trading post in Tse Bonta. After that we owned or were co-owners in several different shops. The Vanderwagen store (White Water Trading Post), a store in Zuni, and Gallup Pawn. We did a little pawn business and jewelry business, mostly wholesale.
    Perry Null Trading
    How involved were you in the stores?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    I was raising kids and had other responsibilities that kept me busy. When we were in Vanderwagen I was the Post Master, in Zuni I worked for the schools, so I was not around the trading post as much as I would of liked to have been.
    Perry Null Trading
    You mentioned that Ernie was proposed the offer to be initiated into a Zuni clan and spoke fluent Zuni, did this give you access to many Zuni crafts people?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    Old man Leekya (Leekya Dyuse) was the Zuni who wanted Ernie to join the clan. So he had a good relationship with him. When we were down in Zuni, Ernie would go over to Leekya’s home and choose what fetishes he wanted. Leekya would set them aside and then when we got a collection we would string them ourselves.
    Perry Null Trading
    What other early Zuni artist did you trade with?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    Leekya’s daughter Elizabeth was married to Frank Vacit and they lived with him when they were first married. Leekya would carve these frogs that had a lip on them so they could be set in silver, after he was finished with them he would give them to Frank who had done the silver work to set them in the bracelet. These were some great pieces.
    Perry Null Trading
    It is different actually knowing the artist when you had grown up with them instead of being an outsider. How were the relationships different?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    When Ernie had enlisted to go to World War II, Zuni artist Dan Simplicio had enlisted at the same time. This was before he was the famous artist that he would eventually become. They had a very close relationship that was more than the usual trader/artist friendship. Many of Dan’s pieces prior to the War were done in traditional inlay style. It was not until after the war and he had the life changing experience associated with such an event that he began his style that was very different than what is associated with Zuni artist.
    Perry Null Trading
    So you and Ernie were considered part of an extended family in Zuni?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    We had many close relationships, today I still visit with Elizabeth on a regular basis. The Zuni Tribe wanted to make a Constitution, so they had all of these lawyers meeting with the Council. Many on the counsel didn’t speak english, and those that did have a general understanding didn’t understand lawyers terminology. So for one whole winter Ernie would go to these meetings to translate the lawyers terminology into the Zuni language and in a way it made sense.
    Perry Null Trading
    Looking back what are your thoughts?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    It is always easy to look back and see what you should have done that was different. I wish I had paid more attention to the culture and the different artist. Still we had a great time in the business and I would not trade it for another life.
    Perry Null Trading
    What are you doing today?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    I am still working and plan to work for a couple of more years. I have moved around a bit the last couple of years, a stop in Mesa Verde at a gallery. Now I am at Richardson’s in downtown Gallup, that allows me to see many of my friends and keeps me involved in the business, which I love.
  • Tobe Turpen Trading Post in Gallup, NM: Tobe Turpen Jr

    Introduction
    Perry Null purchased the Tobe Turpen Trading Post in Gallup, NM from Tobe Turpen Jr. It had been started on the north side of Gallup in the 1920s by his father Tobe Turpen Sr., a family with a rich history of trading, which makes for some great stories and a better understanding of how the business has evolved. Many Navajo and Zuni customers come into the trading post today and talk about how well they were treated by Tobe Jr., who is held in high regard by all who have met him
    Perry Null Trading:
    How did your father get involved in the Trading business?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    My Aunt was married to C.D. Richardson who brought my father to Winslow around 1918.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Which Trading Post did he work at?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    He spent a short period of time at some Posts around Winslow, but most of his time was in Shonto. It took one week by wagon to get from Flagstaff to Shonto, when my father was dropped off he was told they would see him in a couple of weeks. He didn’t see anyone for another six months, except the customers at Shonto.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How long did he stay at Shonto?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    He was there five to six years. It was hard life, we used kerosene lamps, carried our water, used a woodstove, nothing was easy. My mother who was from Oklahoma had a lonely life there.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So you lived at Shonto?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Yes, I was born in 1923 and spent my first four years in Shonto.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What did your father do after Shonto?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    He moved around some spending time at other Posts, but settled in Gallup in the 1920s. He worked for a Trader by the name of McAdams on Gallup’s North side. A couple of years later he opened his own store down from McAdams.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you like the trading business at a young age?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    We lived right next door to the store, so I was there all the time. Every summer I had to work there and learned the business, but still was not very interested in it.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What changed, that made you become an Indian Trader?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    I was in the Navy from 1943 to 1946 and was an airplane gunner for 1 1/2 years. During that time I was in the Battle of Philippine Sea. After I got out of the service I came back to Gallup and went to work for my father. In 1956 I bought him out, and in 1972 I moved the store to where Perry is now.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So you came out of the service knowing you wanted to be in this business?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    No, I didn’t have anything else going on and my father had to tend to some ranching business in Oklahoma. He told me to watch the store for 3 - 4 weeks so nothing would get stolen. After 6 months he finally returned and I had a crash course in the business. During those six months that I discovered that I enjoyed the business, so I continued doing it.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Your father was involved in ranching, did you also continue to do this after he was gone?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    I inherited 300 head of cattle from my father. I lost money on every head, and that was the end of my ranching career.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Was pawn an important part of the business then?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    My father was taking a little pawn, and we thought that it would be a good part of the business. However, it was very difficult to get rid of the dead pawn. In those days you had to educate the tourist of what they were buying, they were leery of the merchandise. What the Navajo wore was different than what was made for the retail trade.
    Perry Null Trading:
    They made many western movies here in the 1940s and 1950s, did you sell much to the actors?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    My father would supply the livestock so he had made relationships with many of the actors and crew. We would stay open late, after they stopped filming, and show the merchandise then. It was very good for us, and I met Jimmy Stewart, Burt Lancaster, Ronald Regan, Marilyn Monroe, Randolph Scott, Tyrone Power, and Earl Flynn.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Any good stories about the movie stars?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Burt Lancaster came in one evening and wanted to buy rugs for friends and family. I started helping him and he had me make two piles. One pile he kept putting every good rug I had in, I kept thinking I was not going to have one good rug in the shop after he was done. He kept going and going, and it started to make me sick to think about all those good rugs leaving the store. When he finished he told me he would take that pile, and pointed to the one without the good weavings.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you do a big business in rugs?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    At the Tobe Turpen Trading Post in Gallup, NM jewelry was always the best. However, we would buy all the rugs that came in the store. I thought that at one point that the we were not going to get anymore rugs. During this rug drought I would travel to the Post on the Reservations to buy rugs, it was the only place I could get them. I thought for sure that was the end of Navajo rug weaving, but the traders started paying more and it fixed itself.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you make most of your jewelry in house?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Almost all of it, we would buy some from the Zuni artists. We purchased stones from the Nevada turquoise miners, and my father at one time even had a claim to a mine in Colorado.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What was your favorite stone?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    We always bought what was available, I liked Lone Mountain, Morenci, and Bisbee.
    Perry Null Trading:
    People always talk about the big boom of the 1970s. What was it like?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    You always hear that the Hollywood crowd was responsible. I think the Hippies had more to do with it. Turquoise became very popular and I would have 5 - 10 Volkswagen vans in my parking lot every morning. They would come in and get the jewelry, after that they hit the road and would be back in two weeks.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Do you miss the Trading business?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    I do, I stayed active in it until the mid 1990s when I sold the Tobe Turpen Trading Post to Perry Null.
  • History of Gallup Trading Posts: Post MGR J Turpen

    history of Gallup trading posts Jimmy Turpen, managed Tobe Turpen Trading company until retirement in 1995
    Intro
    Many of us set out on our life’s journey trying to mold it. We want to end up where we think we should go, and do the things that we believe will get us there. Some of us however take a much different path, letting life happen. Jimmy Turpen let life happen and in return he has lived a full life. I could have spent hours listening to him give me his history, but I could tell his story could not be told in hours.  He is a man who has much to share on the history of Gallup trading posts.
    Perry Null Trading
    Where should we begin?
    Jimmy Turpen
    It is your interview (laugh).
    Perry Null Trading
    The Turpen name is a well recognized Indian Trader name and has a long history associated with this area. How did your family come to this area?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1916 a relative died at the Shonto Trading Post (very remote part of the Navajo reservation, northeast of Tuba City) so my Aunt Trula Richardson got in contact with my father to come out here. Trula was responsible for bringing out many of the early traders in my family.
    Perry Null Trading
    What type of trading was the Shonto Trading Post actively involved in?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In those days they were taking a little pawn, the jewelry was pieces the Navajos had made for themselves. At this location and time no jewelry was being made by the traders for tourist trade. They dealt mostly with dry goods and groceries. The payment was made with anything of value, such as pinons, wool, and livestock.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did he stay at this location for a long time?
    Jimmy Turpen
    My father was sent to the different trading post owned by his family members, was sent to where the work was needed. At that time they had trading post at Cameron, Tuba City, Blue Canyon, Shonto, and some other remote places on the Reservation.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did he like the trading business?
    Jimmy Turpen
    He was a business man, always looking for opportunities. At one time he learned how do tailor work and opened a dry cleaning and tailor business in Winslow. Went to Gallup for a short period, than back to trading at the Grand Canyon.
    Perry Null Trading
    You were around for the Grand Canyon Trading Post. What do you remember?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I remember the first day we arrived, it was June 16th, 1936, and snow was on the ground and my mother cried all day. It was on private land and consisted of a curio shop, bar, and restaurant. It had a dance hall and a band played there every evening. You had lots of tourist traffic because it was on the road to the park.
    Perry Null Trading
    What was your dad doing at this time with regards to jewelry?
    Jimmy Turpen
    He had set up a shop behind the store where he would cut stones. My mom ran the store during the day and then my father would run the restaurant and bar at night. This would allow him time to cut stones in his shop during the day. Stones were a good revenue source so he was always in there cutting.
    Perry Null Trading
    How old were you when your family opened the store in the Grand Canyon?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I was six years old, and we stayed there until I was twelve. It was a great time and I have wonderful memories about the place. Still can smell the candy in the cases, and sneaking a few pieces. I had been around the Sunrise Springs Trading Post before we moved to the Grand Canyon, so was already familiar with this type of life style, always something going on and to do.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did you help your dad with the stones?
    Jimmy Turpen
    Yes, my dad would let me sand and polish the stones. He had a silversmith family living there that would make the stones into jewelry, and then he would also take loose stones on the road to sell. We worked with a lot of Number 8, Blue Gem, Morenci, and Kingman turquoise.
    Perry Null Trading
    How were you able to get a store in the Grand Canyon?
    Jimmy Turpen
    It was on private land. Dan Hogan an Irishmen from New York had rights to the land before it became a National Park. He had served with the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War and had become friends with Teddy Roosevelt. When Teddy Roosevelt became President he was visiting the area and ran into Dan. Dan had been prospecting for ore at the time and the President asked if he could do anything for him. It just so happened that he could, Dan surveyed the land and asked for the rights to mine it. What he got was the right to own the land, granted by the President. Eventually the land was given back to the park under a deal that once the uranium had been mined it would be turned over. This was the land the store was on and today the Powell Memorial is there.
    Perry Null Trading
    Why did your family leave the Grand Canyon store?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1942 the tourist stopped coming. World War II broke out and with it came rations on gasoline. So we moved to Tucson.
    Perry Null Trading
    What did your family do there?
    Jimmy Turpen
    They opened another curio shop. It didn’t take long for my dad to figure out he didn’t like waiting on customers, so he was back to cutting stones. He had two guys helping him (along with me) one Navajo named John Nelson who did silver work and John Garcia who helped with the stones. He started to make some really good jewelry.
    Perry Null Trading
    You finished high school in Tucson, then did you go to work for your father fulltime?
    Jimmy Turpen
    After high school I went to college at the University of Arizona. I started out studying to become a dentist, but changed it to Wildlife Management. This was a new program at the school and only six of us were in the first class.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did you go to work in this field after graduation?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I had gotten married when I was in college and didn’t quite finish. I was in the ROTC and enlisted in the Army when I was a junior in college.
    Jimmy's wife, Robbie Wilson Turpen Jimmy's wife, Robbie Wilson Turpen
    Perry Null Trading
    What did you do in the Army?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I went to flight school and became a pilot. After flight school I was sent to Germany when we still occupied the country. We would take pictures from the air of the Russian Army advances in East Germany, after we developed the film we then flew it to our front lines to let them know about any movement of the enemy.
    Perry Null Trading
    How long were you in Germany?
    Jimmy Turpen
    We went, my wife and two children, in 1954 and came back home in 1957.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did you come back to Tucson?
    Jimmy Turpen
    Yes, I came back and finished my Wildlife Management program. By this time it was a popular field and the only job I could get was a study of the Razor Back in Tennessee. So I was on a job hunt immediately.
    Perry Null Trading
    What kind of work did you find?
    Jimmy Turpen
    My sister helped me get a job with Martin Marietta building the Titan Missile in Denver. So we moved there and began working, this was during the height of the Cold War. When we had finished building the missiles and the work slowed I got on with IBM in the same area of Colorado.
    Perry Null Trading
    How about the Indian Trading business?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I had a good job and really liked working for IBM. Still had an interest in it, but was working to pay bills and raise a family. During this time in Colorado we had made a trip to Estes Park. A lady owned a shop there that sold Indian jewelry and we saw a belt that my father had made in her window. We had made an offer to buy the belt and the lady told us it would be $3500. At that time this was an expensive price, but we wanted to have it and agreed. After that she said the piece was not for sale.
    Perry Null Trading
    Sounds like good business practice?
    Silverware made by Tobe Turpen Sr.'s brother Silverware made by Tobe Turpen Sr.'s brother

     

    Jimmy Turpen
    We introduced ourselves to her. She told me that she had a piece of my father’s work at her home and would mail it to me. When it arrived I had the option to buy it from her. The box didn’t arrive until six months later, and by then I had forgotten about it. The packaged contained a silver ware set that my father made during the 1940s. She said I could have it for the price she paid him, that was $500. So I sent her a check.
    Perry Null Trading
    When did you get back into the Indian Trading business?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1973 I received a call from Tobe Turpen asking to check out a retail location in Denver. They were thinking of opening a store here. The location was terrible and they never opened a store there. However, I was offered a job to be the general manager of the Tobe Turpen store in Gallup.
    Perry Null Trading
    Was it an easy decision to make?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I knew the business and I liked the business. I had a good job with IBM and my wife was able to be around our children in the Denver area. It was a much harder decision for her because she would be leaving her children and grand children.
    Perry Null Trading
    Well we know you decided to return to the business, was it an easy transition?
    Jimmy Turpen
    It was for me, I was right back into the swing of things. My wife cried for the first two years, until our daughter and her family moved to Gallup. At the time we moved to Gallup the American Indian Movement was very active. Right before we moved down with our belongings AIM had taken the Gallup Mayor hostage and one of the kidnappers was killed in the ordeal. My wife was asking me what kind of place we were moving to.
    Perry Null Trading
    You showed up right in time for the big 1970s market, was business booming?
    Jimmy Turpen
    The 1970s was a big boom market for Indian jewelry. All of the big movie stars were wearing turquoise and that made everybody want it. You had everybody selling jewelry, train operators would take it on the road with them and sell it, school teachers were selling it, everybody in the town was selling jewelry.
    Perry Null Trading
    How busy was the store?
    Jimmy Turpen
    We were booming, at the time we had three locations. Most of our business was wholesale, it was not uncommon for us to sell 100 squash blossoms a day. We had 30 silversmiths working in the shop cranking out jewelry. It was a good time for the industry, but at the same time you had a lot of junk available because it was being made so fast and everybody was making it.
    Perry Null Trading
    When did it slow down?
    Jimmy Turpen
    The wholesale slowed down in the early 1980s, but at this time the pawn business was starting to grow really good. With the shortage of money from the slowdown in the market, people started to pawn for extra money. It was always busy at the store.

    Turpen1

    Perry Null Trading
    During the 1970s C.G. Wallace had his big auction in Phoenix, did you pay much attention to it?
    Jimmy Turpen
    We would use the auction to get an idea for what things were selling for. One day Tobe Turpen came to me with the C.G. Wallace catalog and asked me about a silverware set in it. It was like the one I had bought from the lady in Estes Park. My father had made two alike sets, I had the other one. The set at auction sold for $35,000.
    Perry Null Trading
    You are also an artist, how did you get involved with making bronze statues?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1969 we visited a gallery in Taos and looked at some pieces. I thought this looked easy and decided to make some pieces. It was not as easy as it looked but I had a new hobby?

    Perry Null Trading
    Your hobby worked out pretty good for you, I have seen some of your work. Did you sell your pieces?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I have had them in different galleries. My pieces are also displayed in a book put out by Bill Harmsen.
    Perry Null Trading
    When did you leave the Tobe Turpen store?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I retired in 1995. Tobe Turpen Jr. was grooming his son to run the business. Today I help out at Richardson’s Trading downtown at the beginning of each month. Bill Richardson is my cousin and I enjoy spending time down there. Get to see some of the people I dealt with at the Turpen store.
    Perry Null Trading
    What do you miss the most?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I miss the action and getting to see my old friends.
  • Gallup, New Mexico: Family History by Roland Kamps

    Gallup, New Mexico Roland Kamps
    Introduction
    Gallup, New Mexico has a fascinating history with the Navajo, Zuni, & Hopi peoples. It is a trading center for all three of these Native American Reservations. Many families which were early settlers in this area are still here today. The Kamps family is one of these with a rich local history. This family has done mission work, healed the sick and delivered many new Gallupians, and taught generations of children. Roland Kamps was my teacher for 8th Grade History. He came into the Trading Post to show Perry some rugs his father had owned, and he wanted to sell.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What brought the Kamps family to Gallup, New Mexico?
    Roland Kamps:
    My father, Jacob R., came here in 1927. He was a Minister for the Christian Reform Church and they had a Mission at Rehoboth, right outside of Gallup.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did your father want to come to this area?
    Roland Kamps:
    He came from a time when being a Minister of God was a very prestigious calling. He was one of those Godly men who taught God’s word and let that take him where he needed to be. (Laughs) I was conceived in China, born in Michigan, and raised in Gallup, New Mexico. So you can see he was willing to go where needed.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did your father have to learn to speak Navajo to do his Mission work?
    Roland Kamps:
    When he first arrived he took learning Navajo very seriously. He would become fluent in the Navajo language, but would never use it in a sermon. Before he learned he had a interpreter, Wallace Peshlakai, that would travel with him on the Navajo Reservation.

    Roland Kamps rug collection

    Gallup, New Mexico Roland Kamps rug collection

     

    Perry Null Trading:
    Did he teach you to speak Navajo, or did you learn another way to speak the language?
    Roland Kamps:
    Dad always wanted all of us kids to speak Navajo (laughs), but all I ever learned was the dirty words.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did your Father ever do any trading with the Navajo?
    Roland Kamps:
    No, but he would always come home with rugs, baskets, and pottery he purchased to help a family out. This would make my mom so made because she said she needed the money to feed us kids. After my parents passed away we went through their things and came across a big steamer truck. That truck was filled to the top with Navajo rugs, probably somewhere around 25 to 50.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How many brothers and sisters do you have?
    Roland Kamps:
    All brothers, there are seven of us. I had my two youngest brothers in class at Rehoboth.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How long did you teach at Rehoboth?
    Roland Kamps:
    I started teaching at Rehoboth in 1949. You had to teach everything back then, so I remember having english, math, and history classes. Eventually, I became the Superintendent before leaving in 1966 for Zuni.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Do you remember any of the early Indian Traders?
    Roland Kamps:
    I had a men’s basketball team and played with Tobe Turpen Jr. and we would play against the Ortega Brothers. Also, Rico Menapace played on my team. He had the car dealership in town and that guy was what I think of as a Trader. He could speak Navajo fluently and would take whatever was offered for trade, sheep, cattle, rugs, anything of value. We called his truck the Navajo Cadillac because everyone on the Reservation was driving one.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So, I grew up familiar with the Kamps name, is their a younger generation still here in Gallup?
    Roland Kamps:
    Yes, Gallup will have Kamps people, hopefully forever.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So what do you think your Father paid for that large rug you brought in today?
    Roland Kamps:
    (Laughs) I know nothing close to the thousands it is worth today, maybe a couple of hundred at most.
  • Gallup, New Mexico in Pilot Getaways Magazine

    Pilot Getaways Cover, Nov - Dec 2010 Pilot Getaways Cover, Nov - Dec 2010

    Pilot Getaways magazine is for the aviator who is looking for adventure travel. This gorgeous publication does an excellent job of finding places of interest across the Country and promoting area attractions. Crista Worthy is the Technical Editor of the magazine and did a feature on Gallup, New Mexico. She is also a Native American art enthusiast and a big fan of the Four Corners area. We have put some of the images from the article and text for your enjoyment. If you are looking for a wonderful travel magazine that is full of pictures contact www.pilotgetaways.com for subscription information and to order the November/December 2010 publication for the complete Gallup article. It tells you where to stay, eat, and places to visit in Gallup that include Perry Null Trading Company.

    From November/December 2010 Pilot Getaways magazine "Gallup, New Mexico The Real Old West":

    Pilot Getaways Magazine Gallup Article Pilot Getaways, Red Rock Balloon Festival

    The early trading posts were founded as a way for the Indians to trade their wool, maize, and hand-woven blankets and rugs, for staples they were unable to obtain on the reservations, such as cloth, groceries, and hardware. Men like Hubbell learned the Navajo language and understood that in the matrilineal Native American cultures, sheep, saddles, and silver jewelry took the place of money, and were bartered instead of sold for cash. Trading posts became interfaces between Indian and Anglo societies. You can watch this interface today if you visit a Gallup trading post to shop for Native American art and jewelry—two of the best are Perry Null’s and Richardson’s. Perry Null is also a pilot and flies a turbocharged Cessna 210. Over the years he’s used it to visit his kids in college, for Colorado ski trips, Phoenix winter ball games, and Telluride’s July 4th celebration. He and his family often fly to Monument Valley or Sedona for breakfast or Winslow for lunch on Route 66.

    The Perry Null Trading Company has been doing business in Gallup since the 1930s, when it opened as Tobe Turpen’s Trading Post (don’t miss the mural outside). Step into Perry Null’s and be astounded at the quantity of turquoise—more than I thought existed in the whole world—with racks of necklaces made from beads, hand-drilled by Santo Domingo puebloans. The vast majority of “turquoise” sold in department stores or online is fake, but not here. The expert staff can usually tell you exactly which mine a particular stone came from.

    Perry started trading in the 1970s, developing personal relationships with most of the finest Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo artists. A superb Zuni inlayer like Harlan Coonsis will step in quietly, package under his arm. When Perry sees him across the room, his eyes light up and he beckons the artist over. The latest masterpieces are unveiled: a bighorn sheep bolo tie beautifully rendered from mother-of-pearl, and a dozen different colorful birds, each feather individually etched. Perry knows when a particular piece is a design the artist has never tried before, and he frequently gives unique stones to the best artists, commissioning them to create something special.

    Pilot Getaway Magazine Private plane flying over redrocks

    If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, ask: you may have missed it, or perhaps they can have it made for you. You’ll also find stunning pottery and kachina dolls—check out Gene Autry’s priceless silver saddle! The “Rug Room” overflows with hundreds of the finest hand-woven rugs. Like jazz, this is all-original, American art, and its creation and sale brings dignity to its creators.

    In the last few decades, the quality and diversity of design of Indian jewelry has increased exponentially, with certain artist’s works becoming highly collectable. High-end Santa Fe galleries charge thousands of dollars for some pieces, but why shop there when you can buy from the trading post where the artists originally chose to bring their works? Gallup prices are more competitive, and you can often get the inside story behind the particular piece you hold in your hand. Ask—you’ll be amazed at the expertise of this staff.

    Aside from being the conduit where original art makes its way from the reservation to the world at large, authentic trading posts like Perry Null also serve as banks and giant vaults, safely storing ceremonial jewelry used only once a year, or rifles for hunting season; ask for a tour. Indian families often bring prized possessions like heirloom jewelry or saddles in when they need cash, returning a few months later to pick up their valuables. On the rare occasions when an item has not been claimed or paid for over a year, it becomes “dead pawn”. Once a month, Perry pulls dead pawn items and puts them out for sale, some with unique historical value.

  • Sally Noe: Gallup, New Mexico Historian, Tour Guide

    Gallup, New Mexico Gallup, New Mexico historian, Sally Noe
    Introduction
    The “Greatest Generation” got the name because of the hardships they lived through during the Great Depression and the service and community they demonstrated during World War II. Gallup, New Mexico resident Sally Noe is part of this generation and has shown those great attributes during her lifetime. She is known for giving Downtown Gallup walking tours as well as being the expert local historian. If you want to know something about Gallup, New Mexico she would be the one to ask.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Are you a lifetime resident of Gallup?
    Sally Noe:
    No, I missed it by one month. My father worked for JcPenny and they moved him from Kansas City, MO to Gallup, NM in 1926. My mother was pregnant with me, so after I was a month old we moved to Gallup, missed it by a month.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did they keep your father in Gallup?
    Sally Noe:
    It was the Great Depression and if you had a job you kept it. JCPenny moved him every two years, so we moved to Albuquerque and Bisbee, AZ. The Depression was ending and JCPenny wanted to move my father again. He was tired of moving around and accepted a position with Swinford Clothing Store in Gallup.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So you started school in Gallup and graduated from there?
    Sally Noe:
    Yes, I graduated from Gallup High School in 1942 at 16 years old.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you live close to downtown?
    Sally Noe:
    Everyone lived close to downtown. Gallup only had a population of around 2,000 people when I was growing up.
    Perry Null Trading:
    I always thought of it as a bigger community?
    Sally Noe:
    All around Gallup you had coal mines. At one time 27 producing coal mines and each one had its own little community of miners. So, it felt like more people in the area because of the coal, but Gallup only had around 2,000 people.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How many stores did JCPenny have in New Mexico in the 1920s?
    Sally Noe:
    Gallup was the first community in New Mexico that had a JCPenny store. Because of all the mines and miners it was the best town to do business in New Mexico.
    Perry Null Trading:
    After graduation did you get married?
    Sally Noe:
    I was going with a boy that was from Gallup, Robert (Bob) Noe. He served for the Navy during World War II and I was very close to his family.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you marry before he went to war?
    Sally Noe:
    No, we married on August 14th, 1945. That was the day War World II ended. I always tell the story I went into the church when the war was still going and came out when it was over.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you plan that?
    Sally Noe:
    No, we married at a Methodist Church in Raliegh, NC where Bob was stationed. They required you what 3 days before you are allowed to get married, and it just happened the third day was the last day of World War II.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What did you do while the War was happening?
    Sally Noe:
    I would substitute teach at the mine camps around Gallup. Back then each mine camp had its own school. That meant lots of schools. I would also help Bob’s mother at C.G. Wallace’s store during the summer.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you enjoy working with your mother in law and arts?
    Sally Noe:
    My passion was teaching and I eventually completed my teaching degree in 1976. Kathy Noe was a good businesswoman and ran the shop very well. She would eventually open her own shop and be in competition with C.G. Wallace. At that time I can’t think of another woman trader.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How did you ever begin your Downtown Walking Tours?
    Sally Noe:
    When I worked in the C.G. Wallace store, tourists would come in and ask about the community. So I started walking them around town and showing them the old buildings and the history associated with them.
    Perry Null Trading:
    You have always been an advocate for Gallup, could you imagine not living here?
    Sally Noe:
    Bob and I lived in Morenci, AZ after the War. His father owned a commercial painting company and fell off a ladder. Bob decided to come back and run his business. He came home one night and told me he was going back to Gallup and asked if I was going to come with him.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How many children did you raise here?
    Sally Noe:
    Three, two of them still live here and the other in central New Mexico.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Thank you
  • Gallup, New Mexico Trading Post: Tobe Turpen's

    Old photo of Tobe Turpen's trading post Old photo of Tobe Turpen's trading post

    The photo displayed to the left was taken in 1900 at the original sight of Gallup, New Mexico Trading Post: Tobe Turpen's Trading Post and shows John Lorenzo Hubbell, the owner, pictured in the center wearing a dark suit and hat. The counter shown in this photo was moved to the current Tobe Turpen's Trading Post on Second Street in Gallup NM and can be seen there today.

    The Turpen family has been in the trading business for more than just 60 years. Tobe Turpen Sr. opened his Tobe Turpen's Trading Post in 1939 in the building shown above which he purchased from J. L. Hubbell on North Third Street in Gallup NM. Tobe Turpen. Jr. is pictured to the right in the same store building with an employee and a Navajo medicine man (circa. 1947) In 1966, Tobe Jr. was forced to move from the building on North Third Street, when I-40 was constructed. He relocated the trading post to it's present location on South Second Street in Gallup.

    Tobe Turpen Jr and Medicine Man Tobe Turpen Jr and Medicine Man

    The history of the Turpen family in the trading business began in 1908 when, at the age of 11, Tobe Sr. came west from Texas to work in a trading post owned by his brother-in-law, C.D. Richardson. This was before the start of World War I, and the Turpen family was having hard times at their home in Texas. Mrs. C.D. Richardson, formerly Trula Turpen (Tobe's sister), was trying to find work for her brothers at C.D.'s string of trading posts in Arizona.

    Tobe Turpen Senior and Navajo friends c1920 Tobe Turpen Senior and Navajo friends c1920

    The picture to the left was taken on the Navajo Reservation (circa 1920) when Tobe Sr. was in his early 20's. Tobe Sr. began working on the Navajo Reservation by hauling freight from Flagstaff, AZ to the trading post at Cameron, AZ. He also worked at the Blue Canyon Trading Post, where he learned to speak the Navajo language, and quickly gained a working knowledge of the trading business. This was the beginning of a long career as a Trader.

    World War II Interrupts Gallup, New Mexico Trading Post

    Tobe Sr.'s work in the trading business was interrupted when he lied about his age so he could join the Navy and enter WWI. When he returned from the war, he worked at Richardson's trading posts at Blue Canyon and Red Lake. He then moved to Gallup and worked for the McAdam Post and then for Gross-Kelly. Tobe Sr. ran the curio department for Gross-Kelly, where they sold rugs, jewelry and pottery that the local reservation traders brought to town as payment for the goods they hauled back to the reservation.

    When Tobe Jr. returned from serving in the Navy in WWII, he joined his father in the trading business in 1946, and they worked together until 1954, when Tobe Jr. bought the Tobe Turpen's Trading Post from his father. Tobe Sr. soon moved to Albuquerque where he opened a small Indian jewelry store and entered the cattle business. Tobe Jr. continued in the trading business, and in 1973 his cousin, Jim Turpen, joined him. Jim Turpen became the General Manager and continued in that position until his retirement in 1994. Tobe Jr. eventually moved to Albuquerque and semi-retired from the trading business. Until he sold the store to Perry Null in 2002, he continued to travel to Gallup several times a month to oversee the trading post operations.

    During the 1960's "boom years" of the Indian jewelry business, Tobe Turpen's Trading Post enjoyed the success of supplying jewelry to the hundreds of retailers that sprung up across the country. The "boom years" were followed by a market saturated with cheap work and spreading disillusionment that ended the fad in the late 1970's. Although many retailers went out of business after the "boom", Tobe Turpen's Trading Post continues to supply Indian jewelry, rugs, kachinas, pottery, sandpaintings, beadwork and old pawn to retailers throughout the United States and Canada. With the popularity of Indian jewelry growing in other countries, Tobe Turpen's now supplies businesses in Japan, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and England.

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