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Field Trip: NPS Hubbell Trading Post

Hubbell Joe Rug Series
1. Making the Hubbell-Joe Rug Exhibit
2. Hubbell-Joe Rug History
3. Moving the Hubbell-Joe Rug to the Exhibit
4. Field Trip: NPS Hubbell Trading Post
5. Julia Joe Descendants with Hubbell-Joe Rug
6. Exhibit Opening Day!

In preparation for the upcoming Hubbell-Joe Rug exhibit, creative director Lori Bentley Law took a field trip to the National Park Service site of the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado Arizona, where they still tend sheep and operate a trading post.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

The 98-mile drive across reservation land from Winslow to Ganado en route to the Hubbell Trading Post is a lovely one, with red rocks and gorgeous skies. While trading post history is a complicated one, with differing opinions on whether this reliance was good for the Navajo people, the park and rangers offer an interesting glimpse into this relationship and into the house where J.L. Hubbell and his family lived.

The Post was founded by J.L. Hubbell in 1878, just ten years after the Long Walk of the Navajo. By all accounts, Hubbell seemed well-respected amongst the Diné people, a man who spoke Navajo, raised and distributed Churro Sheep, and encouraged traditional arts versus incorporating European aesthetics.

Weaving Demonstration inside the Visitor’s Center at the NPS Hubbell Site

According to interpretive ranger Lashanna (Diné), despite the Navajo tradition of not participating in funerals, more than 300 showed up when Hubbell died, and carried him up Hubbell Hill to be buried as a testament to their love and respect. Hubbell Hill can seen below in the image from the Ganado archives (HUTR4354).

Confirmation of an intriguing discovery

Lashanna also confirmed something I’d discovered while researching the rug. In a 1931 Arizona Historical Review, I read that Chief Many Horses is buried next to his good friend J.L. Hubbell. See the excerpt below.

It is in fact, true. When I read the name Many Horses, it rang a bell from other research I’d done.

(Drawing of Chief Many Horses by Diné artist, Elbridge Ayer Burbank, shown in the Hubbell House)

The Connection

Here’s why this is interesting in relation to AMM and the Hubbell-Joe Rug. Amongst the Hubbell documents, we have this lineage of Julia Joe’s family which cites Many Horses as her paternal grandfather.

If the Many Horses referred to in this document is the same as the man buried next to J.L. Hubbell, this shows a long and deep familial connection between John Lorenzo Hubbell and the family of Julia Joe, one I find really intriguing. We’ll never know precisely why Hubbell chose Julia Joe to make the World’s Largest Rug. Perhaps it was this family connection. Perhaps it was her skill as a master weaver. Or perhaps because, as some reports say, the task did not intimidate the Joe family. Whatever the reason, we are honored to bring this masterwork to the public at Affeldt Mion Museum.

Grand opening of the Hubbell-Joe Rug coming September 2nd!

Next up

In addition to Ganado, I met with Navajo Nation Museum director Manny Wheeler in Window Rock, and also stopped in Greasewood to see the origin site of the World’s Largest Navajo Rug, the Hubbell-Joe rug. More on those visits soon.

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