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Oljato Trading Post named one of America's most endangered historic sites

Oljato Trading Post
Posted at 10:45 AM, Jun 03, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — The Oljato Trading Post in remote San Juan County has been named as one of America's most endangered historic sites.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Navajo site on its annual list, urging Congress to step in and provide more funding to restore it.

"The Oljato Trading Post (pronounced ole-JAY-toe) is a rare example of a once-ubiquitous mainstay in Navajo communities—trading posts that offered a wide assortment of goods, provided Navajo producers a place to sell or trade their products, and acted as community centers and social hubs. Built in 1921 by a licensed Anglo trader, the National Register-listed Oljato complex includes a trading room, living area, storage for wares, and a traditional hogan (or sacred home) for overnighters," the trust said.

Utah's Department of Cultural & Community Engagement, which is working to help restore the site, said it needs about $1.3 million for rehabilitation where the Navajo Nation seeks to turn it into a community center and tourism site.

"This can become the first stop for tourists as they travel to Monument Valley and Bears Ears, which will bring in revenue and help people understand the history of trading posts," Herman Daniels, who represents the Oljato area on the Navajo Nation Council, said in a statement. "There’s a lot of memories for people who went to the trading post. I can still remember getting bubble gum from the gumball machine whenever we visited."

The Oljato Trading Post is among 11 sites across the country to get the designation, including Civil Rights-era camp sites for marchers from Selma to Montgomery. More information can be found here.