The legend of Don Lorenzo: John Lorenzo Hubbell and the sense of place in Navajo country

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This dissertation is a cultural history of the frontier stories surrounding an Arizona politician and Indian trader, John Lorenzo Hubbell. From 1878 to 1930, Hubbell operated a trading post in

This dissertation is a cultural history of the frontier stories surrounding an Arizona politician and Indian trader, John Lorenzo Hubbell. From 1878 to 1930, Hubbell operated a trading post in Ganado, Arizona--what is today Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. During that time, he played host to hundreds of visitors who trekked into Navajo country in search of scientific knowledge and artistic inspiration as the nation struggled to come to terms with industrialization, immigration, and other modern upheavals. Hubbell became an important mediator between the Native Americans and the Anglos who came to study them, a facilitator of the creation of the Southwestern myth. He lavished hospitality upon some of the Southwest's principle myth-makers, regaling them with stories of his younger days in the Southwest, which his guests remembered and shared face-to-face and in print, from novels to booster literature. By applying place theory to Hubbell's stories, and by placing them in the context of the history of tourism in the Southwest, I explore the relationship between those stories, the visitors who heard and retold them, and the process of place- and myth-making in the Southwest. I argue that the stories operated on two levels. First, they became a kind of folklore for Hubbell's visitors, a cycle of stories that expressed their ties to and understanding of the Navajo landscape and bound them together as a group, despite the fact that they must inevitably leave Navajo country. Second, the stories fit into the broader myth- and image-making processes that transformed the Southwest into a distinctive region in the imaginations of Americans. Based on a close reading of the stories and supporting archival research, I analyze four facets of the Hubbell legend: the courteous Spanish host; the savior of Native American arts and crafts; the fearless conqueror and selfless benefactor of the Navajos; and the thoroughly Western lawman. Each incarnation of the Hubbell legend spoke to travelers' relationships with Navajo country and the Southwest in different ways. I argue, however, that after Hubbell's death, the connection between his stories and travelers' sense of place weakened dramatically.