|Name||John Lorenzo "Don" Hubbell|
, Arizona , United States
|| November 27, 1853
|| November 12, 1930
|Last Modifed||Thomas Walker|
Oct 02, 2006 05:39pm
|Info||John Lorenzo Hubbell was born on November 27, 1853 in Pajarito, New Mexico, a small community south of Albuquerque. Mostly self- educated, he became familiar with the life, ways and language of the Navajos while traveling around the Southwest as a young man and while serving as a clerk and Spanish interpreter for the U.S.Military. |
Joh Lorenzo Hubbell who was known as "Don Lorenzo" to the whites, "Old Mexican" or "Double Glasses" to the Navajos, began trading in the Ganado area in the early 1870s. Two years later he bought out William Leonard and settled at the present location. Construction on the present trading post building was started in 1883. From the beginning, the trading post was a success with his Navajo neighbors.
During the course of his life Hubbell built a trading empire that included freight and mail lines as well as trading posts. At various times, he and his family owned over thirty trading posts, two wholesale stores, one in Gallup, New Mexico and the other in Winslow, Arizona, curio shops in Long Beach and Hollywood, California and bean farms near Gallup, New Mexico and apple farms near Farmington, New Mexico. Beyond question, he was one of the foremost Navajo traders of his time.
He provided his Navajo customers with merchandise and food, while promoting Navajo arts and crafts to the remainder of the country. In many ways, Hubbell served as a bridge between the Navajo and Anglo cultures, increasing understanding between the two. Hubbell's career as a trader spanned critical years for the Navajos. He came to the reservation when they were still attempting the adjustment to reservation life, with the ordeal of the "Long Walk," and confinement at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, fresh in their minds. More than any other trader, he helped his Navajo friends make that adjustment. He often found himself acting as their spokesperson and advocate with the U.S. Government.
Throughout his lifetime, Hubbell actively participated in politics. He served in the Territorial Council, helping to guide Arizona to statehood, a county sheriff, a State Senator, and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1913.
Hubbell's political philosophy was quite liberal for his time. He was a supporter of women's right to vote, opposed to disenfranchising the Spanish-speaking Americans through the use of literacy requirements in English, and favored prohibition. He conducted himself so honorably in his campaigns for office that even his opponents complimented him on his methods.
Hubbell had an influence on Navajo weaving and silversmithing that endures to this day. He consistently promoted excellence in crafts- manship and design. Hubbell helped weavers understand which designs were popular with a collection of miniature paintings of rug designs. He discouraged the use of cotton warp and all but a small range of chemical dyes. Hubbell even unraveled older blankets to show the weavers how the pattern was done. Hubbell encouraged his partner C.N. Cotton, when he suggested bringing Mexican silversmiths to Ganado to teach the craft to the men of the area. Before this, the demand for Navajo silverwork was insignificant. Hubbell also promoted Navajo crafts with a series of mail order catalogs that he sent to Eastern cities.
He died on November 12, 1930, and is buried on Hubbell Hill, overlooking the trading post, next to his wife, Lina Rubi and his closest Navajo friend, Many Horses. One old man expressed the sadness of his fellow Navajos when he said:
"You wear out your shoes, you buy another pair;
When the food is all gone, you buy more;
You gather melons, and more will grow on the vine;
You grind your corn and make bread which you eat;
And next year you have plenty more corn.
But my friend Don Lorenzo is gone, and none to take his place."