Will Evans and the Shiprock Trading Post

Will Evans painted coffee table from the Shiprock Trading Post, painted with thunderbirds and Yei figures on surface and legs decorated with lightning arrows, mid-20th century

p4A ItemID E8916008
Will Evans from the Shiprock Trading Post large oil on board painting depicting Yei figures in a hand painted frame with geometric designs

p4A ItemID E8916007
A painted wooden table lamp from the Shiprock Trading Post by Will Evans decorated with figures and geometrics

p4A ItemID E8915620
A contemporary Navajo Storm Pattern Weaving by Jane Wilson

p4A ItemID F7987679

Will Evans and the Shiprock Trading Post

Will Evans (1877 to 1954), also known as Awoshk’al or “Missing Tooth” to the Navajo, partnered with Joe Wilkins and Ed Dustin in 1898 to build Little Water Trading Post in Sanostee Valley, south of Shiprock, New Mexico. Filled with dry goods and groceries, Evans spent that first winter alone manning the shop, trading with the Navajo, and passing his time by painting. In 1917, Evans purchased the Shiprock Trading Post, and encouraged the Navajo to create weavings which he could easily sell along a newly formed and traveled road. These weavings, known as “Shiprock Yei”, depict attenuated figures situated against white backgrounds, a favorite style of Evans after witnessing a Navajo ceremony involving sandpainting.

In the 1930s, the Federal Government implemented the Navajo Livestock Reduction plan, whereby the government drastically reduced the sheep in the area for fear of overgrazing the land. This negatively impacted the Navajo weaving trade. Evans decided to redirect sales using his art and the Navajo craftsmen by building and painting furniture, bottles and trays, as well as the trading post itself, with Native symbols and designs.

Information courtesy of Cowan Auctions, Inc.

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