Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Thursday, July 28, 2022

In the afternoon we drove 30 miles south on 64 to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. We drove through a huge storm with rain so hard, I had to pull over for a while. We seem to bring rain wherever we go. There is a nice Visitor’s Center with a lot of information. Then there is the trading post itself – the oldest trading post with continuous business. The Hubbell family ran the business until 1965, selling to the National Park Service.

Established in the late 1870’s, Hubble played a huge role in trade and development in the area. Having lived with a couple of Indian tribes, he spoke the Navajo language and established good relationships. It is still an active store, selling all kinds of goods, but there is a whole room with rugs made from the preferred Churro Sheep, which could survive in this harsh environment. Their wool makes great rugs, which are prized.

An Endangered Breed

Churro sheep remained the primary source of wool for the Navajo until 1863. During the 1850s, thousands of Churros were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush. Most of those that remained behind were crossed with fine-wool rams to supply the demand for garment wool caused by an increasing population and, later, the Civil War.

In 1863 the U.S. Army under the command of Colonel Kit Carson marched into the lands of the Navajo and began a systematic campaign of destroying all means of Navajo livelihood. The army slaughtered sheep by the thousands, as well as burning crops and killing other livestock. A few bands of Churro managed to survive because they were moved to remote canyons.

Faced with starvation during the winter of 1863–1864, thousands of Navajo surrendered to U.S. Army troops in a forced removal policy from their traditional homelands known as the Long Walk. More than 8,000 Navajo walked more than 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, to a reservation area called Bosque Redondo. Enduring extreme hardships, the Navajo were incarcerated at Bosque Redondo for four years. In 1868 the Navajo returned to their homeland under a treaty of agreement between the U.S. government and the Navajo Tribe.

Churro Sheep Re-introduced

After the incarceration at Bosque Redondo, the Navajo
were issued new breeds of sheep and encouraged by Indian agents to increase their flocks. Federal agents gave two sheep to every man, woman, and child. In 1870 the U.S. govern- ment supplied the Navajo with native Mexican sheep—a cross between Churro and Kentucky Merino brought to the Southwest over the Santa Fe Trail. Other attempts were made by the U.S. government to build up mutton production. Each resulted in further contamination of the Churro breed.” From:

The sheep themselves have quite a history, as do the Navajo.

All kinds of baskets hung from the ceiling. There was a rack of antique rifles used in the west. It’s a cool place with a nice staff, and probably a great place to buy rugs.

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