Opened to the public in 1994, Notah Dineh Museum features an extensive display of historic American Indian art and artifacts.
Antique cradleboards, beaded toys, ceremonial gloves and moccasins, tomahawks, breastplates, pottery, fetishes, woven baskets, kachinas from the 1920's and 1930's, and antique Navajo rugs provide a glimpse into Native American life.
The largest known Two Grey Hills weaving is showcased in the museum. Relics of the Old West in the exhibit include antique bits and bridles, beaded leatherwear, fringed dresses and leggings, and historic firearms. The museum is free to the public.
Notah Dineh's original museum collection was started over 50 years ago, when trading posts served as the commercial and social centers for the reservation.
A Brief History of Trading Posts
The Navajo Indians were a nomadic people that came into the southwest over 500 years ago. They began to trade with the Pueblo Indians that lived in the area before them and with the Spanish that came into the southwest after them until the Southwest Territories became property of the United States in the mid 1800's.
Among the Navajo, trading posts began operation in the 1860's when mobility was limited to horse and wagon. Trading posts were supplied with items the Navajo could not produce for themselves like coffee, flour, tools, hardware, etc. Until the end of World War II, government licensed traders brought the outside world to the Navajo.
The traders and trading posts also served as the source for the outside world to buy the items the Navajo produced such as jewelry, wool and the finely woven textiles they became famous for.
By 1900, through encouragement and higher prices paid for quality weavings, the traders and weavers worked together developing certain design characteristics in certain regions of the reservation.
By the 1920's numerous styles of rugs had developed such as Two Grey Hills (New Mexico); Ganado, Teec Nos Pos, and Chinle (Arizona) to name a few. They were named for the trading post in the area where they were developed.
"A Brief History of Trading Posts" courtesy Mark Winter and Notah Dineh Trading Company, Cortez, Colorado, used by permission. Photos by Dale W. Anderson ©1994.