Toward the western end of New Mexico, there are many trading posts that are worth checking out along both I-40 and old Route 66. These trading posts offer an opportunity to purchase priceless mementos of a once in a lifetime vacation out west. The trading posts usually offer a vast selection of kachina, pottery, hand woven rugs, blankets and fine works of art. Silver or turquoise jewelry is what many of the native trading posts are most famous for. The craftsmanship of the local silversmiths is exquisite and the jewelry has meaningful design, so it is well worth browsing the old Route 66 trading posts!
Route 66 Indian Country has been the land of wild west adventure ever since the early 1900s, when the National Trails Highway was routed through this region. The long stretch of Route 66 from Holbrook, Arizona to Gallup, New Mexico was often referred to as Indian Country by travelers of the Mother Road and with good reason. This region is the home of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi, Zuni and Apache tribal lands are also close by. What makes this stretch of Route 66 so interesting is the old campy tourist traps and native trading posts that have become landmarks through the years. Touring Route 66 Indian Country certainly is a unique visual experience and a trip through these parts offers a chance to learn a little something from cultural exchange.
Trading posts did play a major part in the development of the entire west back in the mid 1800s. Mountain men, explorers, gold prospectors and pioneers relied upon open trade with the natives in order to survive. Barter and trade helped to open channels of communication in the old days, so the old west trading posts often were a common ground between two very different cultures.
Old Route 66 in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico was a haven for trading posts during the golden age of automobile touring. The Route 66 Indian trading posts were indeed tourist traps, but they were great tourist attractions at that! Where else could a traveler see teepees, kachina dolls, dinosaurs, giant jackrabbits and petrified wood all in one place? ... Nowhere but Indian Country Route 66!
Many of the old Route 66 Indian Country tourist attractions and trading posts have faded into the past and only remnants of the old buildings remain. Places like the old abandoned Meteor Trading Post still draw thousands of tourists each week, even though this old tourist trap has been closed for many years. The odd looking buildings, the old teepees and the classic Route 66 tourist trap signage still acts as an attention getting magnet that draws travelers right on in. The old abandoned Route 66 Indian Country tourist traps do present great photo opportunities, so it pays to check out these places even if they are closed.
Fortunately, not all of the old fashioned Route 66 Indian Country trading posts have faded out of existence and these destinations are more popular than ever in this modern age. Quality is the name of the game in the modern tribal tourism industry and the Route 66 Indian Country trading posts do take great pride in marketing high quality hand crafted Native American merchandise made by local artisans. For those who seek the real thing, the authentic native goods that can be found in Route Indian Country will be to your liking!
When making a purchase at a Route 66 Indian Country trading post, the transaction is much more than just a simple monetary exchange. It is a true cultural exchange as well and in a spiritual sense, something intangible can be gained from the experience. Money spent at the trading posts not only funds local tribal infrastructure, it also helps to preserve native arts heritage that has been passed on for many generations. This is all the reason needed to check out the old historic Route 66 trading posts when passing through!
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