Last month, I was able to sneak away from KC for a quick weekend at home in New Mexico with my parents. This trip was an opportunity for something a little bit different - as my parents had done before I was born and the family lived in Grants (nearer Albuquerque), they often would visit Navajo rug auctions, held on the reservation. I a) love auctions and b) had long desired one of these beautiful objects, so got fixated on the idea, and thanks to my folks, we made it happen.
We spent our first night in Albuquerque before heading out to Grants, before heading out to weird, tiny Grants, a former uranium mining town (which is what initially brought my family to New Mexico from Montana). We ate steaks smothered in green chile and cheese, and my parents graciously stopped their car so I could take photos of the old, decaying signs off of Route 66.
Prior to heading out to the auction, we got a little bit of schooling at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. We learned how long each rug can take to make: a well-made 3'x5' rug can take 350-500 hours when you include prepping wool, dyeing wool, and hand-knotting every last square inch of the piece. We learned a little bit about the more common designs, and what types of details to watch out for.
The rug auctions are held once per month in Crownpoint, a small town about 30 minutes north off of I-40/Route 66. The auction proceedings are not much different than any other, with the exception that the entire community comes out to see how much these remarkable artworks go for, and who is buying what. If you're interested in the art, it's a very cool, unique experience.
The next morning, we decided to spend the day at Acoma Pueblo, a native settlement that dates back to 920. "Sky City" has about 100 full-time residents still living in it, largely without electricity (some people have generators, some solar panels).
Acoma is stunning. I lived in New Mexico for nearly 20 years and have seen several pueblos, and there really are none quite like this. The surrounding geography is beautiful on its own, but when blended with the culture of the Acoma people and the architecture of the pueblo itself, it becomes something truly special. It alone is worth the trip out to New Mexico.