Don’t Run With The Clock, Walk With The Sun

analytical Essay
1859 words
1859 words

Don’t Run With The Clock, Walk With The Sun

In the cross-cultural relationship between Navajos and Indian traders, trading incorporated separate economic philosophies. Navajo communal “share all goods” values clashed with the capitalistic economic philosophy of the traders. These differences did not sway the necessity for survival. Instead, it provided the genuine opportunity for Navajos and Indian traders to share conditions and familiarity of the area in which they lived in. Navajos distrusted the economic aspect of the trading system. The economic dissimilarity of both cultures did not become resolved, because of the ideology. The Navajos’ and Indian traders’ essential need to cope with the day-to-day interactions increasingly overshadowed such discrepancies and enabled Navajos and Indian traders to survive under the same Southwestern skies. 1998 oral histories reveal diverse economic philosophies and engage the voices of Navajos and Indian traders.

The trading post provided the necessary space for the exchange of goods to pass daily. Carolyn Blair, who married a trader, Bradley Blair and worked side by side with her husband, recalls the interior of the trading post at Red Mesa. She described it as “a typical old-time trading post with the high counters, and things hanging from the roof, like saddles or, you know, the reins for the bridles and what not, pots and pans.” [i] Fran McNitt also described the interior with the high counter design, which gave the look of a, “bull-pen [used as] a place to stand, lean, squat or sit while in the process of trade, sociability, or reflection. On three sides were wooden counters eight inches to one foot higher and wider than store counters elsewhere; they were designed as barriers between customer and trader.” [ii] The “bull-pen” arena created a cultural barrier between Navajos and trader. This spatial arrangement of the trading post contributed to the economic “distrust” Navajos held toward Indian traders. By appearances, the trader’s well-stocked store gave the Navajo’s the clear impression they had amassed wealth and were not “sharing” it with the rest of the community.

As merchant, pawnbroker, and arts and crafts dealer, the Indian trader linked the outside world to the Navajo reservation. Indian traders’ livelihood depended on well-stocked shelves with all the imaginable goods that were likely to sustain the community throughout the various seasons, like coffee, flour, tobacco, cloth, and wool for the Navajo community at large. An Indian trader had to win the trust of Navajos, in order for the day–to-day transactions to run smoothly.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that navajo economic philosophies are "stingy and crooked" and that indian traders should not charge more for their items.
  • Analyzes how navajos distrusted the economic aspect of the trading system, and how the "bull-pen" arena created a cultural barrier between the two cultures.
  • Explains that trading posts were the focal point of the navajo community that provided services other than trading goods.
  • Analyzes how karen underhill interviewed bruce burnham, elijah blair, evelyn yazzie jensen and willow roberts powers.
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