Early traders traveled through Arizona Territory, selling goods from their wagons, but they soon built stores that evolved into trading and social centers where wool, sheep, and Native arts were exchanged for sugar and salt, pots, pans, bridles, and saddles. Navajo trading posts are best known, but trading posts existed on every reservation in Arizona. Traders became the intermediaries between Native peoples and the outside world, providing not only hard goods, but other services including translation, correspondence, and transportation. Trading posts also became destinations for artists, authors, movie stars, and tourists. Although trading posts have mostly disappeared today, they remain a romantic and historic part of our great Southwest.
Carolyn O’Bagy Davis, a fourth-generation descendant of Utah pioneers, is the author of thirteen books on archaeology, quilting, and the history of the Southwest. Her book Hopi Summer was selected as OneBookArizona for 2011, and Desert Trader was named one of the Best Books of the Southwest 2012. She was the founding president of the Tucson Quilters Guild and Old Pueblo Archaeology Center and is an inducted member of the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame and the Society of Women Geographers. Davis has appeared on HGTV, PBS, and Lifetime programs, and has curated many traveling museum exhibitions.