National Historic Site – Selling Spam

Why is a national park site selling Spam and Cheez-it?

We left Taos, New Mexico, reluctantly, and entered Navajo Country. It was a long drive to Canyon De Chelly National Monument, our next destination. We saw a sign for the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site and detoured. We had not read up on the site and felt unprepared.

This was an honest to goodness trading post between the Navajos on their reservations and whites. The Navajo Reservation was established in 1868, after the Long Walk Home, the brutal equivalent to The Trail of Tears for southeastern Indians.

John Lorenzo Hubbell began trading here, i.e. Northeastern Arizona, in 1876. Navajos would bring in rugs and trade for foodstuff and goods needed for the winter. Hubbell built a lovely house, filled with amazing art. It turns out that artists were eager to visit the Navajo Reservation and they “traded” art pieces for Hubbell’s hospitality.

The trading post expanded and was passed down from one Hubbell to another. Dorothy, the last Hubbell, sold the property to the National Park Service with the understanding that it would stay a trading post. It became a park unit in 1965. OK. Now, it’s a general store; they only accept money. It’s managed by Western National Park Association, the cooperating organization-similar to Eastern National, which runs bookstores on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We bumped into this park without any preparation. The Historic Site would not have been very interesting if not for volunteer, Lynn R. She and her husband have been volunteering in the parks (VIP) for several years. They look for parks with lodging for volunteers since they don’t have an RV.

Lynn explained the significance of this park unit and took us on a “peek” into the Hubbell house. She knew a lot about the Hubbell clan, including who slept in what bedroom and how the house expanded as time went on.

Now about the Spam…

Since this is still a general store, they obviously sell what they think their clientele will buy. But do they have to offer the worst white bread, fried, sugared food?

I wondered if all the food stuff is priced as concession items. That is, do they price it like the competition in town or like the candy counter at the movie theater? In more traditional parks, like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, concession items, chocolate bars and aspirins, have to be priced at a government stated mark-up.

I didn’t want to ask Lynn this esoteric question but I should have. I bet she would know what I was talking about.


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