Shonto: A Study of the Role of the Trader in a Modern Navaho Community

Shonto: A Study of the Role of the Trader in a Modern Navaho Community

Shonto: A Study of the Role of the Trader in a Modern Navaho Community

Shonto: A Study of the Role of the Trader in a Modern Navaho Community

Excerpt

This is not a community study in any ordinary sense of the term (see, e.g., Steward, 1950); nor is there any such geographical or social reality as Shonto community. Throughout the northwestern reaches of the Navaho Reservation, settlement is scattered but at the same time more or less regular, so that it is impossible to identify any significant structural unit of population larger than the kin-determined residence group (see Social Structure, pp. 54-65). In this respect, as in nearly all others, Navaho society in the Shonto region is a true folk society (cf. Redfield, 1947; Miner, 1952).

The 100 Navaho families whose activities are recorded and analyzed in these pages are not set apart from their neighbors, particularly to the north, west, and south, by any visible boundaries, either social or geographical. Among all the Navaho on the reservation, their sole collective distinction is that they are the most frequent and regular customers of Shonto Trading Post, in whose vicinity they live. In other words, this is a study of a trading community--a clientele.

Even in this regard a considerable amount of selection has been exercised, such that the delimitation of the group is largely arbitrary. Frequency and regularity of trading are, of course, matters of degree. If all the Navaho individuals. who had ever been customers at Shonto Trading Post were numbered as clientele, their aggregate would certainly come to over 2,000. At least 1,000 persons appear at the store with sufficient regularity so that their names are known to the trader. Of this latter group, however, about half live closer to other trading posts than to Shonto, and hence are likely to do a good part of their trading elsewhere. Such divided trading relationships precluded the gathering of the sort of detailed and complete information, particularly with regard to economic activities and income (see pp. 94-148) which were considered essential to the present study.

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