By Carolyn O’Bagy Davis
On the sparsely settled Arizona reservation lands, trading posts were important centers for commerce as well as social gathering destinations. With a subsistence economy, the posts offered opportunities to trade sheep, wool, and crafts for necessities such as flour, coffee, sugar (known as “sweet-salt”), and tools. Most often, traders were Anglos, living as partners among their Indian neighbors. They often were the only contact with the outside culture, and their stores provided an outlet for local arts such as rugs, pottery, baskets, and jewelry. Traders helped with correspondence, transportation, and sickness, and they even buried the dead. Trading posts were the sites of marriages and murders; they were destinations for artists, scientists, and adventurous tourists. With the coming of roads and automobiles, trading posts have all but disappeared, but the stories and photographs shared in this volume offer a glimpse into a vanishing time in the Southwest.