5.Native American Trading Mural
HISTORY BEHIND THE MURAL
Traders were licensed by the U.S. government
in the late 1800s to create posts on newly
formed reservations. They learned native
languages and responded to the needs and
desires of customers often developing relationships
that have lasted for generations.
Wool in spring and lambs in fall meant
that Native Americans needed credit between
seasons. Credit would be advanced upon
deposit of valued items, such as rugs and
jewelry. This system, called pawn, depends
upon mutual trust.
In the 1920s there was an awakening appreciation
for Native American art supported
and encouraged by numerous traders.
As tribes sought self-sufficiency in the
1960s trading on the reservation decreased.
The pickup truck brought sellers and shoppers
to town. Many traders settled in Gallup
where they are major supporters of Native
Community members who guided the development
of this mural are: Joe Tanner, Jim
Turpen, and Theresa Wilkins.
Chester Kahn, muralist, expresses himself
in a loving and respectful way with clarity
of form and soft glowing colors. Yet his
message is always strong. For many years he
has been a champion of his Navajo culture.
He is well-known for his series of murals,
Circle of Light, Navajo Educational Project,
at Ellis Tanner Trading Post in Gallup. Over
sixty distinguished Navajo men and women
shown with their life stories as inspiration
for future generations. Chester is also a
painter, illustrator, jeweler, activist and elder.