Visitors from around the world admire the beauty of handmade American Indian textile artwork – particularly rugs and blankets woven by artisans on the Navajo Nation. Arizona offers many places to purchase these weavings or watch artists demonstrate age-old Navajo weaving techniques.
Phoenix & Scottsdale
The internationally renowned Heard Museum boasts 11 exhibition galleries and a contemporary Indian arts gallery in its main Phoenix location, as well as shops in both Phoenix and Scottsdale. Both stores only sell authentic, one-of-a-kind artwork made by American Indian artists. In November 2013, the Heard will present its annual Navajo Weavers Market, where visitors can meet artists, learn how weavers prepare Navajo sheep wool and watch hand-weaving techniques. In March 2014, it will host the annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market (sometimes nicknamed the Heard Indian Fair or Market).
Tucson & Southern Arizona
Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery is an Indian arts gallery showcasing Navajo weavings and other fine Southwestern artwork, including 500 handmade rugs of all sizes, design styles and price points. A pair of colorful woven Pueblo dance sashes can be yours for less than $100, but large antique Navajo rugs have sold to serious collectors for tens of thousands of dollars.
The Native Goods Museum Store is located inside the Arizona State Museum, on the University of Arizona campus. Ranked among the best museums for serious researchers of the people and cultures of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, ASM stocks its store with authentic rugs and blankets woven by Navajo and indigenous Mexican Zapotec artisans, along with Pascua Yaqui masks, Hopi basketry and Katsina dolls, and other goods made by native people in the Southwest.
An hour south of Tucson is Sonoita, home of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery, which bills itself as “the destination for the serious American Indian Art Collector.” It houses one of the largest collections of historic and contemporary Navajo weavings in the country. Before visiting, be sure to
call ahead as the shop is only open by appointment.
Sedona & Flagstaff
Sedona’s Garland’s Navajo Rugs offers literally thousands of handmade rugs, and buys new artwork directly from native artists on a daily basis. The most expensive rug for sale is valued at more than $100,000.
The Museum Shop at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff sells American Indian textiles, jewelry and much more. In August 2013, it will host the 64th Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture, at which the public can meet and buy from weavers, jewelers and craftspeople.
The Sacred Canyon Trading Post, located at the Navajo-owned and -operated Sacred Canyon Lodge at Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Chinle, offers authentic handmade items, including rugs. Many Navajo vendors also sell their wares along the north and south rims of the canyon, and Navajo weaving demonstrations are occasionally offered by artists at White House Ruins, located at the bottom of Canyon de Chelly itself.
Visitors to Navajo National Monument, located at Arizona’s northern border, can view weaving demonstrations most weekdays May through September at the visitors center.
Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado is the oldest continuously operated trading post on the Navajo Nation. Visitors range from serious collectors to curious onlookers, and each weekday, a master weaver is on-site for demonstrations and question-and-answer sessions. Visitors can also test their weaving skills on a practice loom.
Cameron Trading Post, located about 30 minutes from the entrance to the Grand Canyon, features a hotel, art gallery and gift shop, all of which showcase Navajo rugs and textile arts.
About 30 miles from the border of northeastern Arizona in Sanders, you’ll find R.B. Burnham Trading Post. In addition to selling Navajo rugs, blankets and other textiles, the Arizona trading post has also sold specialty yarn, weaving tools and supplies to Navajo families for generations.