Will Evans and the Shiprock Trading Post

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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