Made by Americans for Americans (and others) in America. The Cameron Trading Post in the Navajo Nation, Arizona.

Posted on November 9, 2014

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Along the highways of the Southwest – and other places, too – every exit has its “Trading Post”, trinket-filled snack stops full of ‘Made in China’ labels, with maybe a few things from local artisans sprinkled in.images

These handy stops mostly fall into the “tourist trap” classification, and while they’re a quick and easy way to stretch your legs, you don’t exactly expect a cultural experience.

images (1)However, the trading post in Cameron, Arizona, is worth noting because it actually is what it is, and has been for a very long time.

The Cameron Trading Post was established sometime after 1911 by brothers Hubert and C. D. Richardson, who came to Arizona Territory to seek their fortune.

For a number of years, their only customers were the local folks – Navajo and Hopi Indians who were grateful for the opportunity to barter wool, blankets and livestock for beans, weapons, canned goods, and other things they could not grow or make with their own hands.

Many frontier traders took every opportunity to dupe native peoples, but the brothers had a different attitude. They learned their customer’s languages and dialects, and treated them with honesty, kindness and respect.

Those visiting the trading post were fed and housed overnight. Trust and friendship grew, and the Natives soon looked to the brothers for help and advice when faced with the necessity of coping with the newly-emerging American legal and social system.

Over time, as roads improved and interest in the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area grew, the trading post became a popular stopping point for the traveling public. The the indigenous art displayed there was different from anything most travelers had seen before. It was as beautiful and impressive as the land they were traveling through, and they wanted to take at least one piece of the great Southwest home with them .images (2)

Soon, the production of hand-made jewelry, pottery, carvings, baskets and woven goods grew into a profitable industry for the Navajo, Hopi, and members of other Arizona tribes.

Today, the Cameron Trading Post is owned by its employees, predominately Native Americans, and the President of the company is a direct descendant of the original founders. The complex now contains a post office, hotel, restaurant, gas station, RV park and police headquarters.

images (3)While the gift shop is, of course, filled with Native art – as well as a few things from elsewhere, including China – it’s on the upper walls and in the restaurant where you  see the history of this place.

The upper walls are a great showcase of Native American and early settler artifacts, and the restaurant is a virtual gallery of indigenous art.

It’s well worth a stop. You’ll enjoy browsing, and you’ll be treated right.

Now, today.

We bought a battery-powered Dremel tool at a big box store in a city in the American Southwest.

It was imported from Mexico, where the tool and battery pack were assembled.

The charger was made in China.

The accessories were made either in Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Taiwan OR the USA.

A few days ago at the Cameron Trading Post, we bought several items, made by Americans, in America.

Interesting.

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Posted in: Travel - Arizona