Over the years I have come to realize that I am a big fan of the
people. I can often be found watching interesting individuals,
wondering in amazement at their distinct characteristics or the
activities they engage in. Correspondingly, it has always fascinated me
how those same people touch us in the most unexpected ways; sometimes
big, sometimes small.
Elsie Holiday with Mirage BasketThe
other day Priscilla and I were working the floor at Twin Rocks Trading
Post, straightening the store and, in hopes of putting a few dollars
into the till, talking animatedly with the customers who wandered in
through the Kokopelli doors. March is characteristically a slow month,
however, so we did not have high expectations.
Historically, sales at the trading post do not begin picking up until
after April 15th. It seems people are more inclined to treat themselves
to a rug, basket or piece of turquoise jewelry
after their tax returns have been filed. Barry and I have considered
petitioning the IRS to require semiannual reporting, so people will be
twice as inclined to spend their hard earned cash. You can imagine how
much happier people will be when they have to file two income tax
returns a year.
On that beautiful spring afternoon one woman stayed on longer than the
rest. The elderly lady lingered around the Zuni fetishes, asking questions and gathering information about their origin and history. Priscilla and I explained that the handmade animal, bird
or human figures were originally carved as talisman used to ensure a
plentiful and successful hunt. We informed her that in the 1800s the
federal government worried so much about the power of these carvings
that they sent Frank Cushing, a noted anthropologist, to the Zuni
Reservation to research their mysterious powers. We also mentioned that
in 1994 a fetish had been sent into space on the shuttle Endeavor .
Apparently by then the government, or at least NASA, had overcome its
“It is a beautiful culture, isn’t it,” she asked rhetorically,
referring to Native Americans in general. Affirming her earlier
statement and nodding her head vigorously, she said, “Yes, you gotta
share the beauty.” When the woman left Priscilla asked if I had heard
what she said. By that time I was mulling over the woman’s comment in
light of what we do at Twin Rocks. “Yes,” I said, remembering all the beauty I had experienced while running the trading post over the past 21 years.
Priscilla reminded me that beauty is fundamental to Navajo culture
and that the Beautyway ceremony exemplifies this belief. Although the
term does not directly translate into English, Beautyway is said to be
an expression of balance, success, well-being and happiness all wrapped
into one ritual. During this rite, the medicine man helps his patient
reestablish a sense of order in his or her life. The reasons one my
become unbalanced are numerous. For Navajo people, however, there is
only one cure, finding and sharing the beauty.
The Beautyway brings the patient back into harmony with all things and
all people, with all objects, all animals, all feelings, all plants and
even the weather. The result is being at peace, serene in the knowledge
that all around you is healthy and well.
Without knowing it, the elderly woman had reminded us why we are here,
and why we do what we do. Our purpose has always been to share the
beauty of southern Utah, its people and their art. In beauty we trade.
With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team
Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!
Our TnT's purchased new treasures! Check out Traders in Training!
Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!