Category: Nambe Trading Post

The High Road To Taos

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Our Airstream neighbors in Santa Fe gave us some good recommendations, one being to take the high road to Taos. It is a very pretty drive, and there are several Spanish chapels worth seeing. We also wanted to visit the Nambe Trading Post in Nambe Pueblo, NM along the way. Carla had recommended going there, and we had bought a small painting from Jennifer Smith at the Indian Market.

I almost made a turn toward one of the churches, but was afraid I would get stuck on a small road since we were pulling the trailer. Then we missed a sign to turn to the trading post. It was quite a while before we could turn around beside a popular rug store. Turning into the small trading store parking lot was a bit scary, and I wondered if I would get back out. A 1960’s Airstream was parked by the store. The trading post is part museum, part store and part diner. 

It’s a family enterprise. Cathy Smith is in the Cowboy Hall of Fame, Emmy award winner, and other awards. She is a talented artist who is known for her authentic costume design for Dances With Wolves, Son of The Morning Star, Jedediah Smith, Into the West, Comanche Moon, Geronimo and more. Cathy’s mother is Lakota Sioux. At a young age Cathy became obsessed at studying Lakota ways, customs and dress.

“Cathy has spent her lifetime participating in the ceremonies and cultural life-ways of relatives on the Cheyenne River Reservation and refining her skills in the sacred art of porcupine quillwork

“Maintaining these traditional arts is imperative as they are a part of our American heritage in danger of being lost. Not only are they beautiful and useable, but when made with integrity, they are imbued with power & spiritual meaning.” From

Daughter, Jennifer Jesse Smith, makes beautiful jewelry and sculptures, but has also does well with paintings and has helped her mom making costumes. “Inspired by indigenous metal-smithing techniques from around the world, Jennifer combines her love of sculpture, silver-smithing and the elegance and edginess of rock-and-roll fashion with the best stones and finest metals to create original, balanced, wearable art that invoke a sacred connection and collaboration with the wearer. Jennifer Jesse Smith designs pieces of power, passion and beauty for those with enough mojo to wear them.” 

The building is not big, but it is amazing what is in it. We started with a tour of the museum with all the costumes made for so many movies and TV shows. A room is filled with used shirts, dresses, hats and boots that are for sale. Some list what movie they were used in, or who wore them. I should have bought an outfit, but it was too much to take in at one time.

I learned about Ledger Art. I am sometimes confused by the pictographs and petroglyphs. They are often so simple, I think some are done by children. On the other end of the spectrum, we have seen incredible talents in basketweaving, rugs, pottery and jewelry. I didn’t know that many displayed their art on their teepees, clothes and buffalo and deer hides. Most of the world didn’t see this side until the introduction of accounting ledgers by traders in the 1860’s. It enjoyed a revival in the 1960’s and 70’s. 

The other incredible art form is what can be done with porcupine quills. This one was naturally dyed porcupine quills, brain tanned buckskin, tin cone and horsehair.

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