Sunday, March 8, 2009

Our National Jewel

Sandy and I left Gallup on Friday, our initial hopes of meeting up with Sedona Wolf had been dashed early that morning. They maintain one of the very best Native American Marketing places on the web, one of the few places I frequently visit regularly: . Perhaps on another day, we'll have an opportunity to meet in person in Gallup, Sedona, or elsewhere. We felt consoled on learning that the last great railroad hotel, La Posada, in Winslow had a room for us. Staying there--I prefer Einstein's spacious room--is comfort enough, but the true treat is dining in their historic old Turquoise Room--my favorite culinary spot in the whole Southwest. Dinner for me always begins with their famous black bean-corn soup; the dish that followed was comforting enough to calm with lullaby-effect the most demanding gourmet food-critic: smoked pheasant tamales, a sizzing Navajo churro lamb cut, spicy Colorado Elk sausage, and roasted duck over a base of Tohono O'oodam tepary beans. Sandy's meal was more traditional, a chicken based dish off the old 1930 Fred Harvey railroad menu which they faithful recreate every day. The next morning we drove to Museum of Northern New Mexico for an overview of their Native American jewelry on display. It was rather sparse, I should have asked if what we saw on display represented only a sampling of a vast storehouse located elsewhere on their campus. From their parking lot we called the El Tovar Hotel on the off chance they had had a cancellation for the night and they had. So two hours later we were nestled in our tiny room circa 1905 just off the Canyon Rim. I like to visit the El Tovar Hotel periodically just to see what Native American pieces are on exhibit for sale in their two prominent lobby showcases. I am sorry to say that although there is some individually crafted jewelry there, most of their pieces fall in to the category of modern manufactured jewelry which comes from two primary souces BG Mudd and SuperSmiths both New Mexico companies that employee Native Americans to produce jewelry, usually in an assembly line fashion.* How much more satisfying it would be to have one of their staff act as buying agent and allow individual Native American artists to have a coveted shot at a spot in their showcase. What they have in that elegant lobby is two of the best placed showcases for Native American Jewelry in all the world. Dinner at the El Tovar dining room is always good, but I think rather lackluster when compared to the cuisine at the Turquoise Room in Winslow. Nonetheless I must uptick it one point for their raw buffalo appetizer place. I was up well before sunrise to a blistery cold rim hike with my camera & tripod in hand. Sunrise just doesn't get better than what one sees at the Grand Canyon--our premiere national jewel in full spotlight glory.

*I contracted with a company last week for a commercial website to be used primary for the introduction of individual Native American artists so the story of thier work may be told and thier products placed on world wide display. After the first 50 entries, I plan to publish as the first volume. The fledgling site can be found at .