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

By William Y. Adams | Go to book overview

The trading community of Shonto, hereinafter designated as the community, is confined to those Navaho individuals who are considered by the owner of Shonto Trading Post to be "Shonto Navvies." These are the families who trade exclusively, or nearly so, at the one store, and thus enable the trader to observe every phase of their economic life. As delimited for the purposes of the present study, this group was originally found to include 103 households and 39 residence groups. For the sake of symmetry and statistical simplicity, it was then decided to eliminate the three most uncertain households (constituting a single residence group), so as to reduce the total number of Navaho households studied to an even 100. The group is collectively designated as "Shonto community" in succeeding pages solely for want of any other appropriate term, and with no intention of suggesting a visible social identity.

The 100 Shonto households selected, with their 568 individual inhabitants, constitute the entire Navaho universe of this study. They have not been selected, nor are they advanced, as being in any way a sample or even "typical" of a larger social whole. On the contrary, considerable pains have been taken in later pages to show how and why Shonto differs from other parts of the Navaho country, and particularly from those which have been the scenes of recent studies by anthropologists. The investigation of Shonto and the present report are confined to the problem of determining the structural interrelationships and the processual interaction of a single American-inspired and American-operated trading post and its Navaho clientele. As for a wider applicability, the present research can serve only to frame a hypothesis, not to test it (cf. pp. 305-307).


GENESIS OF THE STUDY

Like many other anthropological projects, this one arose from an original interest in a specific sociocultural situation rather than in a more theoretical social or cultural problem. It was the situation at Shonto which drew attention to the general problem of the role of the entrepreneur in culture contact--not vice versa. In other respects, however, the personal and professional circumstances under which the study evolved have been sufficiently deviant from the usual experiences of anthropologists that it seems not only justifiable but necessary to set them down in considerable detail.


FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH SHONTO COMMUNITY

I got my first view of Shonto Trading Post, in the capacity of an ordinary tourist, during the summer of 1948. I had just received my bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of California, and was spending the summer with my family on the Navaho

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page I
  • Content III
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface x
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1. the Community 30
  • Part 2. the Trading Post 149
  • Part 3: the Role of the Trading Post 231
  • Bibliography 308
  • Index 317
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