Friday, November 10, 2006, 3:30–5:00 p.m.
New Insights from the Archives: How US Tariffs and Global Wool Markets Affected Navajo Households
Kathy M’Closkey, University of Windsor
For decades anthropologists have investigated the impact of market economies on Indigenous Peoples, and its effects on their lifeways and natural resources. My second book Double Jeopardy: Navajo Weavers, Reservation Traders and the Specter of Free Trade utilizes a broad array of archival sources including government documents, and traders’and regional wholesalers’ business records and correspondence, to reposition Navajo weavers and woolgrowers within the context of the following post-Civil War developments:1) the increasing competitiveness of wool markets internationally and congressional tariffs legislated to ameliorate the effects on domestic woolgrowers; 2) the extraordinary changes in manufacturing and advertising that promoted the sales of standardized consumer goods at the expense of their handmade one-of-a-kind counterparts (i.e. Navajo rugs); 3) the images of “domesticity” prevalent at the time masked the significance of Navajo women’s weaving to the reservation and regional economies. Today, historic Navajo textiles are valuable investments sought by wealthy collectors -- over $80 million have sold through international auctions or private transactions since 1970. Such demand has decreased the market for contemporary textiles woven by 25,000 Navajo weavers. Thus my paper and slides highlight evidence that demonstrate how the inimical effects of free trade over a century ago triggered Diné impoverishment in a manner not revealed in other analyses.
All papers are pre-circulated electronically to those who plan to attend the seminar in person. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Jenny Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 312-255-3524.
Co-sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Roosevelt University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University's School of Communications
The Newberry Library
Dr. William M. Scholl Center for
Family and Community History
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago, Illinois 60610
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