Bookmark this page or copy and paste URL to Email message

Foutz Family Collection, 1922-1937


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Foutz Family.
Title: Foutz Family Collection,
Inclusive Dates: 1922-1937
Quantity: 20 black-and-white photographs.
Abstract:Photographs of Navajo textile and basket work and of the crowds attending the Shiprock Indian Fair at Shiprock, New Mexico.
Identification: NAU.PH.99.58
Language: Material in English
Repository: Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Department
Northern Arizona University
Box 6022
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6022
Phone: 928 523-5551
Fax: 928 523-3770

Biographical Note

Brigham Young decreed in the 1800s that the Foutz family should move from Knab, Utah to colonize the Tuba City area in Arizona Territory. The government uprooted the extended family next when their Tuba City properties were included in the Navajo Reservation. The group relocated to northwestern New Mexico. About 1915, Jim Foutz, together with three others, formed a Progressive Mercantile Company at Kirtland to furnish general supplies to Indians and settlers. As a teenager, Russell Foutz worked with his uncle Jim at Progressive Mercantile, stocking merchandise and selling. The firm prospered, and so did the expanding Foutz family for soon over 20 family members were operating trading posts on and near the Navajo Indian Reservation. Later, Russell joined his parents, Alma and Harriet Dustin Foutz at a remote trading post northwest of Shiprock, New Mexico, called Teec Nos Pos. This was an old time post where supplies were baretered for sheep, wool, and rugs, for in thre 1930s virtually all trade was by barter. In so doing, Russell gained apprecation for the Navajo arts, especially weavings. He traded for them based on value by the pound- at 75 cents to $4.50. A brother, Edwin Luff Foutz, helped Russell at Teec Nos Pos. But, despite Edwin's precaution to keep windows open for good air circulation in the trading post "bullpen" he fell victim to spinal meningitis that swept the area, dying in 1939 at age 30. The old post burned and the Indians met to consider whether they should allow it rebuilt. One spoke of Russel; "We know all White men cheat us. But this man we know. He just cheats us a little bit. I think we should keep him." And they did.

Two cousins joined Russell as traders: Jay Foutz operated Russell's nearby post of Beclahbito, and Loyd Foutz helped at Teec Nos Pos. Jay was born in 1924 at Fruitland, and Loys in 1926 at Kirtland. Loyd characterizes the Navajos as generally happy people who were great jokers, not at all reluctant to include White traders in the sting of their wit. They called Jay "Hosteen Goat" since he was the only trader who would buy goats. And Russell was "Son of the brother of the man with big teeth". Loyd said a good trader became a postman, banker, advisor and friend, and occasionally undertaker to the Navajos. The Indians feared the bad spirits that might emanate from the dead, and would call on his friend for that job because the trader "knew about such things".

Russell credits Edwin Luff Foutz, Jr. (Ed) as being the best rug salesman of all the Foutz traders. Ed was born in 1939 at Farmngton, New Mexico. At age 14, he began helping uncle Russell at Teec Nos Pos, where he developed a special interest in the Navajo weavings. So, the family dispatched him to sell the rugs, to call on the Fred Harvey Company, outlets in Denver, at the Gallup Ceremonial, and wherever interest in Indian art could be developed. Subsequently, he acquired the Shiprock Trading Company at Shiprock where he dealt in fresh mutton, wool, mohair, pawn, and frequently bought or traded for 150-250 per month. Russell feels that the Navajo arts would have been limited to mostly beadwork and small handicraft, like that of the Plains Indians, were it not for promotion by traders like the Foutz' and the United Indian Traders Association. Their efforts, which even included the Worlds Fair in Chicago, created widespread interest in high quality Indian weavings and sand paintings.

But, Ed recalls a time when small tapestries were not selling well and suggested that two talented sisters should try an unusually large one to reach a different buyer. The sisters agreed, wove intermittently over four years, and in the interim consumed $15,000 of financial help extended from Ed. Much to his relief, they finally completed the big tapestry.The sisters entered it at the Santa Fe Market, and won Best of Show. Returning to post in giggles, the sisters insisted that Ed go to a back room where they dumped $60,000 in cash on the table. They had sold it to a Texan- but not by the pound.

Scope and Content

This collection contains numerous views of Navajo textile and basket work and of the crowds attending the Shiprock Indian Fair at Shiprock, New Mexico. Included is a 1937 group photograph of twelve members of the United Indian Traders Association. Photographs of trading posts on the Navajo Indian Reservation include Red Rock, The Gap, Teec Nos Pos, and also L. J. Hubbel Trading Post at Gallup, New Mexico. Images of Navajo men and women, including activities of dipping sheep, and hauling bags of wool by wagon to the trader.


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for Northern Arizona University, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Controlled Access Terms

Personal Name(s)

Family Name(s)

Corporate Name(s)

Geographic Name(s)


Genre Form(s)


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Foutz Family Collection, NAU.PH.99.58. Special Collections and Archives. Northern Arizona University. Cline Library. Flagstaff, Arizona.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Ed Foutz.

Container List

NAU.PH.99.58: Photographs, 1922-1937