Southwestern United States ancestral people have practiced trading for a long time. They traded long distances as evidence found in archaeological digs. Shells would come from as far away as the Pacific Ocean. Presumably there was an exchange of ideas too. Starting in the mid 1800s traders from the east came in wagons which carried a variety of goods that they hoped to trade for commodities of the local people. With the establishment of the Navajo Reservation in 1868, the Federal government made rules on trade with the native peoples. The government encouraged traders to have licenses and open permanent trading posts. One man to do so was Hubbell. He was first located two miles from Ganado and then he purchased William Leonard’s business in 1876. Thus, the birth of the Hubbell Trading Post which was in business until the 1960s by a Hubbell. More information will be coming in the next post on the years Hubbell spent here.
Natives did not have currency and credit was extended to them with their promise to pay for any goods that they purchased at the trading post when they sold piñon nuts that they gathered, wool from their Churro sheep (it was reported that Hubbell shipped 100,000 pounds of wool to Gallup, but it is unknown was this in one year or over several years), firewood that they either gathered or cut, sheep and goats. Hubbell reportedly bought up to 10,000 lambs and goats each fall, corralled them until it was time to herd them to the railroad station in either Chambers, AZ or Gallup, NM. The animals would be loaded on rail cars to be shipped eastward. Later, the trading posts would accept handmade rugs and blankets, jewelry, carvings and baskets in exchange for the goods that the natives needed. Hubbell would bring in his goods to the trading post through his own freight business and take them to the other trading posts that he ran. He transported goods out of the reservation through his freight business.
Sheep kept at the Hubbell Trading Post as was the tradition when Hubbell owned and operated the post.