Hubbell continues a legacy that started before the NPS
(Editor’s note: This August will mark the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, and the NPS has launched a yearlong celebration to encourage Americans — especially young Americans — to rediscover one of America’s great legacies. The Navajo Nation is fortunate to have two national monuments, a national park and a national historic site within its boundaries, yet many Navajos have never visited any of them. The Navajo Times will, over the next few months, visit all four sites to give locals a glimpse of the grandeur in their own backyard and encourage them to take advantage of it.)
A century ago, this 160-acre plot was one of the busiest places in the Four Corners.
Women unrolled their rugs in front of the stone trading post while their husbands congregated around the wood stove in the bullpen, trading gossip or negotiating a deal for their sheep.
In front of the guest hogan, an artist might be sitting at his easel, trying to capture the sorbet colors of the rocks in the extraordinary desert light. In the farm fields, the whinny of draft horses could be heard while, in the Juan Lorenzo Hubbell home, Hubbell’s wife Lina supervised the preparation of another large meal … the Hubbells were seldom without guests.
Today, Hubbell Trading Post, now part of a national historic site, is “peaceful,” as Navajo Times photographer Adron Gardner notes between clicks of his shutter.
While the quiet is nice, the staff and Superintendent Lloyd Masayumptewa — the only Native American park superintendent on the rez and one of only a handful in the country — would like to see it just a little bit less peaceful. They believe this unique landmark deserves more interest.
Hubbell is an anomaly within the NPS. While most national historic sites include a historic building or two, they are more or less museums … lovingly preserved, but not used for their intended purposes.
Hubbell Trading Post is still a trading post, although, admits Masayumptewa, the vast majority of its transactions are in cash these days rather than trade.