Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Straddling the Continental Divide: Western New Mexico, May 2009 (II)
Shopping in Gallup
Another of our goals for coming to Indian Country, New Mexico, was to shop for Native American jewelry, crafts, and pottery in Gallup and Zuni. So, on our second full day in New Mexico, we set off for Gallup.
Bob, our host at the Zuni Mountain Lodge, suggested that we begin our shopping at Joe Milo's Trading Company on NM 602 south of Gallup. He told us that Milo's has good quality and fair prices, so off we drove.
As it turns out, Milo's probably does have perhaps the best selection and fairest prices of all the emporia in the area. My wife bought a Zuni bracelet and matching earrings there. But, we had yet to peruse downtown Gallup, whose main street is lined with Indian goods stores, so we set off back north into town.
We spent the rest of the morning (and into the early afternoon) walking from shop to shop in downtown Gallup looking for jewelry, pottery, and Zuni fetishes that interested us. The famous Richardson's store had good quality merchandise, but its size and stock are overwhelming and we didn't buy anything there. We did buy several turkey fetishes (our special interest) and several other pieces of jewelry before we felt shopped-out. One of the other guests at the Zuni Mountain Lodge insisted that we should order the green chili soup and the sopapillas at Earl's Restaurant at the far western end of Historic Route 66 in town, so off we went for a late lunch.
Earl's is an institution and, yes, the green chili soup and sopapillas were good, but the real reason to go to Earl's is to peruse more Indian artwork sold directly by the artists. There were a half-dozen Indians selling their work outside the restaurant and, during lunch, other artists offered their work by walking among the diners. The prices were great, and my wife bought several pieces of jewelry and a gift fetish. At first, I was a bit uncomfortable having to tell the artists we weren't interested, but the woman who recommended that we eat at Earl's told us that these artists are there every day and are not offended if you tell them you're not interested. We're glad we went; Earl's isn't fine dining--more like a family-style--but we had a good lunch and experienced a slice of real Gallup culture.
After lunch, we headed back into the main part of downtown to complete a few more purchases and to visit the few shops we had not seen in the morning. At one of our last stops, I found a handsome turquoise-and-lapiz ring and an interesting turkey fetish, so I'm glad we resisted the temptation to simply drive back to the lodge without completing our exploration of the stores.