Hubbell Trading Post
National Historic Site
Park Photo
NPS photo


It is 1885. You have traveled by wagon for days. You enter the valley of the Pueblo Colorado Wash, known as Lók'aah niteel, Wide Reeds. As you approach Hubbell Trading Post you see others have arrived to trade. Navajo friends greet one another. You are here to trade a rug for goods that you will need for the winter.

See the rustic door? It opens to a store filled with wonderful products. Walk in and you'll feel like you've stepped back in time. See the gate? Within are animals, corrals, wagons, and a barn.

Today you have traveled by vehicle for a few hours. Hubbell Trading Post is still here and operating! The door and gate invite you. Welcome.

A Bridge Between Cultures

In the late-1800s the number of trading posts grew across the Southwest. Traders provided supplies and helped local tribes whose lives had been changed drastically by the U.S. government. John Lorenzo Hubbell's contribution and influence as an Indian trader was significant. For over 50 years he was known for his neighborly friendship, honest business dealings, and wise counsel to American Indians. Explorers, artists, writers, scientists, even President Theodore Roosevelt enjoyed the atmosphere of this trading post and ranch and the hospitality of the Hubbell family.

Starting Out Hubbell was born in 1853, in Pajarito, New Mexico Territory, son of James Lawrence Hubbell from Connecticut and Julianita Gutierriez of Spanish descent. Young Hubbell learned the ways and language of the Navajo while employed as a clerk and Spanish interpreter at forts and trading posts. He married Lina Rubi of Cebolleta, New Mexico Territory in 1879, and they had four children: Adela, Barbara, John Lorenzo Jr., and Roman.

Aftermath of the Long Walk Hubbell—Don Lorenzo to local Hispanics, Naakaii Sani (Old Mexican) or Nak'ee sinili (Eyeglasses) to the Navajo—began trading here in 1876, at a critical time for the Navajo. Hubbell came to Ganado as the Navajo struggled to adjust to reservation life following the brutal ordeal of the 1864 Long Walk to Hwééldi, Bosque Redondo (Fort Sumner), in New Mexico Territory, and their four-year imprisonment. They returned home in 1868 to their destroyed homesteads—hogans, herds, and crops gone. Because of this devastation, trading for food and products became important.

Trader and Friend After the Long Walk, local tribes gathered at the post, where Hubbell was merchant and liaison to the outside world. He translated and wrote letters, settled quarrels, and explained government policy. When a smallpox epidemic swept the reservation in 1886, he opened his home as a hospital. "Out here in this country," said Hubbell, "the Indian trader is everything from merchant to father confessor, justice of the peace, judge, jury, court of appeals, chief medicine man, and de facto czar of the domain over which he presides."

Hubbell died in 1930 and was buried on the hill overlooking the trading post. Hubbell Trading Post stayed in the family until 1967, when Dorothy Hubbell, Roman's wife, sold it to the National Park Service to be preserved as a national historic site. Today, as in 1876, American Indians bring handcrafted rugs, jewelry, pottery, and baskets to the trader. Locals buy groceries and share stories. Are you enchanted by a Navajo rug, a silver necklace, pottery, or a Hopi basket? Don't hesitate; take home a beautiful example of American Indian artwork.

Naalyéhé yá sidáhi doo na'iini'

I give you something of value, and you give are something that we agree is of equal value.

Trading is a custom that has been practiced by Southwestern ancestral people for hundreds of years. In the early 1800s white traders traveled by wagon, bringing goods to exchange for commodities with local people. In 1868, with the establishment of the Navajo Reservation, the U.S. government set up rules to regulate trading businesses. Itinerant traders were encouraged to get licenses and open permanent trading posts.

Hubbell worked at his first store two miles upstream from Ganado. In 1876 he bought William Leonard's business in this location and opened Hubbell Trading Post.

Cash flow in the stores was almost non-existent, requiring traders to give customers credit. Debts to the businesses were paid off annually when the customer's commodities became available: piñon nuts, wool, firewood, livestock, and produce. When traders discovered the artistic skills of local tribes, they began accepting handmade rugs, jewelry, carvings, baskets, and pottery in trade. Today trade is conducted with currency, but the ancient principle of trading thrives.

Diyogí yił'óhigii'

Weaving was a common and desired skill among the Spanish, Mexicans, and Pueblo Indians. Navajo learned the skill and surpassed their teachers, becoming famous and respected for their excellent weaving techniques, skill, and creativity.

The entire business of wool—raising and herding sheep and shearing, carding, spinning, dyeing, and weaving—provided the Navajo with a needed economic boost.

At first the Navajo wove blankets to wear and trade with other tribes. But traders believed that quality—and better prices—demanded new styles and designs, and rugs gradually replaced blankets.

Before the 1800s blankets were made of naturally colored wool—white, brown, black, tan, or mixtures. In the 1870s new synthetic dyes produced vividly colored yarn, and weavers experimented with wild patterns. Hubbell encouraged the Navajo to weave designs from old rug patterns that he favored, with colors that included gray, black, white, and red. His legacy includes a distinctive style known as Ganado Red.

Today Navajo weaving is world-famous. Rugs and tapestries are bought and sold as investments, gifts, and home decor, and passed through generations to tell stories about The People, Diné.

'Ałah n'asdeeh

The infamous Long Walk ended for the Navajo in 1868. A new way of life began on Navajoland with the presence of Indian agents, teachers, and missionaries who came to the reservation with their own ideas in mind, including acculturation of the Navajo into white culture.:

Hubbell and other traders who set up posts on the reservation were different. They didn't impose their beliefs, values, and systems onto an established native culture but sought a balance, one that profited their businesses, while respecting Navajo traditions.

Traders who arrived and stayed became friends of the community by learning local customs and languages and attending cultural events.

The trader was often the only contact the Navajo had with the world beyond their reservation. Over time the Navajo learned about and accepted white culture. This was, in part, because a trusted trader provided the local community with fair trade and a fair price. Today the Navajo are bicultural. They live in a modern American society while valuing and practicing their Navajo traditions.

A Glance Through Time

Ancestors of today's Southwestern people trade food, products, and ideas. They build complex structures with plazas and kivas, including Wide Reed Ruin (near today's Ganado).

First Spanish, then Mexicans and Americans explore and colonize the Southwest. Don Juan de Oñate introduces plants, animals, and Hispanic colonists.

Navajo begin weaving blankets using wool from Spanish Churro sheep.

Escalante-Dominguez expedition crosses Arizona and Utah seeking a route from New Mexico Territory to California.

Louisiana Purchase doubles size of the nation; Meriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition explores route to Pacific Ocean; leads to opening of the frontier.

U.S.-Mexican War; Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends war, U.S. gains land from Texas to California; gold discovered in California.

U.S. Army builds Fort Defiance in the heart of Navajo country to stop Navajo raids.

John Lorenzo Hubbell born in New Mexico Territory.

Force of 1,000 Navajo led by Chiefs Manuelito and Barboncito attack Fort Defiance; U.S. military retaliates.

U.S. Civil War; Homestead Act opens western land to settlers; Arizona Territory designated.

1864-1868 LONG WALK
Over 8,500 Navajo exiled by U.S. army at Bosque Redondo (Fort Sumner), New Mexico Territory; they return home to destroyed hogans and livestock; U.S. government creates Navajo Reservation.

Navajo Chief Totsonii Hastiin, Ganado Mucho, invites Hubbell to Lók'aah niteel, Ganado Valley, predicting "he will do good business;" Hubbell, age 23, buys William Leonard's trading post; expands post and ranch.

Fred Harvey Company contracts with Santa Fe Railroad to build quality hotels, eateries, and gift shops at railroad stops; Harvey, like Hubbell, employs Navajo to demonstrate weaving and crafts; Hubbell and trader J.B. Moore market Navajo rugs, attracting business from Eastern cities.

U.S. post office opens at Hubbell Trading Post; John Lorenzo Jr. born to Hubbell and wife Lina Rubi, 1883; smallpox epidemic kills thousands of local people; Hubbell cares for sick and dying.

Hubbell builds home and ranch buildings; son Roman born, 1891; artist Elbridge Ayer Burbank sketches local natives, including Bílii Láni, Chief Many Horses; Navajo Chiefs Ganado Mucho and Manuelito die.

1897-EARLY 1900s
Navajo blankets using red yarn gain popularity; Hubbell begins Ganado Valley irrigation project, builds canals and Ganado Lake; dam completed (valley residents use irrigation system into the 1960s).

Arizona named 48th state; Hubbell elected first state senator.

Hubbell starts freight and stage company; is granted the 160-acre homestead; his property is one of the few private inholdings on the Navajo Reservation.

Oil discovered on reservation; Navajo communities organized into local chapters; American Indians granted U.S. citizenship. (Arizona tribes not allowed to vote until 1948.)

Hubbell dies, age 77; is buried on Hubbell Hill; sons John Lorenzo Jr. and Roman carry on businesses.

World War II, Pacific Theater: Code Talkers send tactical messages in native languages that the Japanese can't decipher.

John Lorenzo Jr. dies; Roman and wife Dorothy run operations; Roman dies; Dorothy runs the business.

Uranium discovered on Navajo Reservation; commercial mining begins; Navajo Nation increases control over its natural resources.

Congress authorizes Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, 1965; Dorothy Hubbell sells property to National Park Service (NPS), 1967; trading remains important to the community.

Stewardship. NPS, local tribes, and friends work to protect Hubbell Trading Post's traditional and on-going trading relationships. The site promotes arts and crafts from many tribes and is a vital part of the Navajo community.

Homestead on the High Plateau
When Hubbell started his trading post here in the 1870s, his property had no official boundary. In 1880 the Navajo Nation expanded, engulfing the trading post and ranch property, and Hubbell put in his claim for the 160-acre homestead.

Hubbell set a boundary by clearing and fencing his agricultural fields. He also used land beyond his claim, including Hubbell Hill, the reservoir, and canals that brought water to help make his ranch self-sufficient.

Today the National Park Service cares for Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in the midst of the Navajo Nation.

The Hubbell Trading Empire
John Lorenzo Hubbell was one of the most respected traders of his day. He admired and encouraged American Indian arts and crafts and traded with Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, Pima, Tohono O'odham, and Apache. At various times he and his sons John Lorenzo Jr. and Roman owned over 30 trading posts, warehouses and wholesale houses in Gallup, New Mexico, and Winslow, Arizona, several ranches and farms, business properties in California, curio shops, and stage, freight, and mail lines.


park map
(click for larger map)

EXPLORING BEYOND THE WALLS Start at the iron gate bearing John Lorenzo Hubbell's initials. It once separated the public trading area from the family's private space, but today the gate beckons you. Please come in and look around. Buildings and areas (below) contain notes that explain their functions.

In 1965 Congress made Hubbell Trading Post a national historic site with the understanding that it would remain a business operation, a working trading post. Hubbell Trading Post is alive in the true sense of the word. You can buy a pound of cowboy coffee or trade items like a Hopi basket, Navajo rug, or turquoise ring. Woosh Deeh.

Corrals held sheep by categories: ewes with lambs, yearlings, rams, aged, and market-ready. Other corrals held horses, mules, or milk cows.

Look at all the implements! Potato diggers, plows, a hay baler, and more—equipment needed to run a self-sufficient ranch. Freight wagons brought supplies from Gallup, New Mexico, and hauled wool to market.

Wander past the barn and down the lane to see a traditional Navajo hogan built in the 1950s.

Hubbell built a dam and irrigation ditches to divert water from Pueblo Colorado Wash to his fields and gardens.

Workers, freight-wagon drivers, and field hands slept here.

When completed about 1900 this two-story barn was the largest in northern Arizona.

The blacksmith repaired farm equipment and made tools, hardware, horseshoes, and the gate with Hubbell's initials.

Terraced alfalfa fields surrounded the cluster of buildings. Hubbell needed a lot of hay to feed the horses and mules that pulled his freight wagons.

The Hubbells raised chickens, guinea fowl, peacocks, and turkeys.

This 1887 building held supplies for the trading post and items for shipping, including sheepskins and 100-pound bags of wool.

The farm manager lived here in the early 1900s. (Not open to the public.)

When the trading post was in full operation the baker provided hundreds of loaves each week, supplying bread to the family and to sell in the store.

Corn, squash, melons, beans, and chilies grow here. Daghaa Neezi (Friday Kinlicheenie), Hubbell's gardener for over 70 years, grew fruit and vegetables for the family and workers.

Gates, walls, and doors kept outsiders from entering areas reserved for the Hubbell family and its business dealings.

The Hubbell family home is filled with artwork, baskets, and beautiful Navajo rugs. Hubbell family members lived here until 1967. Guided tours are offered daily

This store is a real trading post just like it was over 125 years ago. Local artists bring hand-crafted items to sell, and people shop for groceries and supplies. There are three rooms: the bullpen (store), jewelry room, and rug room.

This cozy room was a place to socialize and trade for staples like coffee, cloth, and utensils. It is little changed since 1876, with its wooden floors, tall counters, high shelves, and iron stove. Only the merchandise is new.

Visit the jewelry room (originally called the Trader's Office) to see jewelry, baskets, pottery, and gifts that showcase the artistic talents of Southwestern tribes. The rug room offers exquisitely woven new and historic Navajo rugs.

Hubbell opened his home to friends and travelers. Roman and Dorothy Hubbell built this hogan in 1934 as a tribute to his father's hospitality. Today visiting artists, researchers, and volunteers occasionally stay here.

Rest awhile or have a picnic in this cool, vine-covered spot.

William Leonard ran a trading post here in the 1870s. The structure was removed in 1923.

Hubbell is buried in the family cemetery atop the cone-shaped hill. His grave is unmarked, following Navajo custom. Buried there too are his wife Lina Rubi and his best friend Bi'lii Lani (Chief Many Horses). The hill is outside of the park boundary.

The streambed beyond the stone wall marks Hubbell homestead's northern boundary. Ancestors of today's Southwestern people built villages along its banks in the 1200s.

This cool area kept potatoes, apples, eggs, and other food fresh for months. (There is another root cellar next to the Hubbell home.)

VISITOR CENTER Start here for information, exhibits, a bookstore, and Navajo rug weaving demonstrations. Its is open daily except Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. Seasonal hours vary.

GUIDED HOUSE TOURS Tours of the Hubbell Home are offered daily and limited to 15 people (fee). Pay for and meet your tour at the visitor center. Group tours require advance reservations.

SELF-GUIDING TOURS You are invited to explore on your own.

TIME ZONES The Navajo Reservation observes daylight-saving time, but the rest of Arizona and the Hopi Reservation do not. During that period, clocks at Hubbell Trading Post will read one hour ahead of clocks off the reservation, like at the Grand Canyon.

ACCESSIBILITY The visitor center, restrooms, and rooms in the trading post store are accessible for visitors in wheelchairs. Service animals are welcome.

SAFETY AND REGULATIONS Please follow these precautions. You are responsible for your own safety. • Watch where you walk; historic glass and nails are scattered about, and the ground can be uneven. • Watch your children. • Do not climb on fences or machinery. • Do not litter. • Pets must be leashed; they are not allowed in buildings. • Smoking is not allowed in buildings or near doorways. • Do not approach or feed animals, tame or wild. • All plants, animals, and natural and historic features are protected by federal law. • For firearms regulations check the park website. Emergencies: contact a ranger or call 911.

Source: NPS Brochure (2010)


Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site — August 28, 1965

For More Information
Please Visit The
Link to Official NPS Website

Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards expand section


An Administrative History: Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (HTML edition) Southwest Cultural Resources Center Professional Papers No. 46 (Albert Manchester and Ann Manchester, 1993)

Arizona Explorer Junior Ranger (Date Unknown)

Assessment of Riparian-Wetland Conditions and Recommendations for Management, Pueblo Colorado Wash, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/NRR—2010/213 (Joel Wagner and Richard Inglis, June 2010)

Cultural Landscape Report, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site Intermountain Region Cultural Resources Selections No. 14 (Peggy Froeschauer-Nelson, 1998)

Development Concept Plan, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona (August 1980)

Farmlands History: Part I— Water Crops, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (Charles S. Peterson, October 1983)

Foundation Document, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona (December 2007)

Foundation Document Overview, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona (January 2016)

Foundation for Planning and Management, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona (December 2007)

Geophysical and Archeological Investigations at Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, Independence, Missouri Midwest Archeological Center Technical Report Series No. 117 (Steven L. DeVore and William E. Altizer, 2008)

Geophysical Investigations and Monitoring of the HVAC Replacement Project Area at the Truman Farmhouse (Site 23JA638) within the Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Grandview, Jackson County, Missouri Midwest Archeological Center Technical Report Series No. 121 (Steven L. DeVore, 2009)

Homestead and Farm: A History of Farming at the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (Charles S. Peterson, March 1, 1986)

Hubbell Trading Post Furnishings Report and Plan, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (September 20, 2011)

Junior Arizona Archeologist (2016)

Junior Rangers, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (Date Unknown)

Long Range Interpretive Plan, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (1997)

Mammal inventory for Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SCPN/NRTR-2010/376 (Shauna Haymond and Richard E. Sherwin, September 2010)

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

Hubbell Trading Post (Albert H. Schroeder, December 13, 1961)

Navajo Pawn: A Misunderstood Traditional Trading Practice (Billy Kiser, November 1, 2010)

Park Newspaper (InterPARK Messenger): c1990s1992

Reintroduction of Agriculture Environmental Assessment/Assessment of Effect, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (June 2003)

Resources Management Plan: Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (1996)

Soil Survey and Interpretations, Hubbell Trading Post Historical Site, Arizona (Earth Environmental Consultants, Inc., September 1978)

Soil Erosion Study, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Ganado, Arizona (The Earth Technology Corporation, September 23, 1983)

Special Report on Hubbell Trading Post, Ganado, Arizona (Robert M. Utley, January 1959)

Vegetation Classification and Distribution Mapping Report: Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SCPN/NRTR-2010/301 (David Salas, March 2010)

Vegetation Survey on Hubbell Trading Post, National Historic Site, Ganado, Arizona (Kancheepuram N. Gandhi, undated)

Wide Reed Ruin: Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site Southwest Cultural Resources Center Professional Papers No. 51 (James E. Mount, Stanley J. Olsen, John W. Olsen, George A. Teague and B. Dean Treadwell, 1993)

Handbooks ◆ Books expand section


Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Last Updated: 11-Aug-2021