Starting in the 1870s, trading posts were where Native Americans interacted with the Anglo world, bartering wool, rugs, baskets, and other items they made for coffee, cooking oil, flour, and other goods they needed. The trading posts functioned not only as stores but also as post offices and general gathering places to become the defacto hubs of cultural exchange. Trade by barter largely ended in the 1930s. Today a few still function as trading posts and U.S. post offices, but many became convenience stores and gas stations while others were abandoned and fell prey to decay and vandalism. Some remain in part but only marked by a stray wall or foundation stone.
Since 1970 Ed Grazda has been searching for and photographing these buildings and in this book the reader is led on a tour showing those that are still functioning all the way to those that have succumbed to the ravages of time and neglect. Combining vintage photographs with more contemporary images of the same locations from 2008 to today, A Last Glance reminds us of the fascinating relationship and close exchange of culture that once existed between Native Americans and settlers and how each passing year makes its mark upon everything and our understanding and acceptance of our shared histories.
Edward Grazda is the author of Afghanistan Diary 1992-2000 (powerHouse Books, 2000) and Afghanistan 1980-1989 (DerAlltag, 1990). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Double Take, and Granta and is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA, New York among others. He has received grants from The New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow four times. NY Masjid: The Mosques of New York with text by Jerrilynn Dodds and photographs by Edward Grazda was published by powerHouse Books in May 2002. In 2009, with Jeff Ladd and Valerie Sonnenthal, Ed founded Errata Editions–a publishing company dedicated to making important rare photo books accessible with its Books on Books series. Grazda teaches at The International Center of Photography in New York.
Willow Roberts Powers is a retired anthropologist. She has spent a few decades in the Southwest, working on various reservations for tribes and pueblos. She knew trading posts when they were just past their heyday but still commercial centers of small communities and has interviewed traders, their customers, and many others about trading.