National Geographic : 1991 Aug
AILEMA BENALLY HUBBELL TRADING POST NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE In a room of rugs woven by Navajo hands, cultural interpreter Ailema Benally explains how Navajo like her mother and grandmother traded their handiwork for groceries at the Hubbell Trading Post. For Ailema there is a deeper reso nance to the post, still in operation National Park Service at 75 today in Arizona. Here she came to understand her identity as a Navajo. "As a child, I played with Barbie dolls and joined the Girl Scouts. Navajo culture was left out of my life. Working at the trading post has opened a differ ent set of values to me," she says. Fourteen years ago she suffered an automobile accident and the loss of a job and boyfriend in one week. Arelative suggested she see a medicine man. He discovered a curse had been placed on her; through ceremony it was broken. "John Lorenzo Hubbell, who found ed the post in 1876, could look beyond his own world and see the Navajo not as savage but as having a different, rich culture. I hope visitors can take some of this home in their hearts."