Hank Blair and Bill Malone

Hank Blair (left) and Bill Malone at a trader's gathering in 2009.

On a morning in June  2004 a 140 year long tradition of Indian trading at Hubbell Trading Post was transformed over the course of a few hours.  Federal agents awakened trader Bill Malone and presented him with search warrants authorizing the seizure of evidence relating to charges that included mail fraud, embezzlement and rackteering.   Over the next three years, Bill would exhaust his personal savings in defending himself against these charges before ultimately being exonerated on all of them.

The story of the investigation, written by retired NPS agent Paul Berkowitz, who conducted the part of the investigation that resulted in all charges being dropped, would make a compelling whistle blower movie plot.  This, however, is no movie.  The central focus of the story, Billy Malone is a world renowned expert in the Native American arts of the Southwest, with a trading career spanning four decades and more than 20 years as the trader at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.  Bill ran the trading post at Hubbell as trading posts had always been run; he let artists have credit, he took goods on consignment, he gave weavers a six pack of soda when he bought a rug,  When the trading post couldn’t buy a rug or a piece of jewelry, Bill might buy it himself.  By 2004, he had amassed a collection of over 500 rugs and 6000 pieces of jewelry, all of which was seized on that day in June.

Author Berkowitz explains the complex legal, personal and cultural aspects of this story in a way that we think is compelling and fascinating.   As Bruce says, “The whole thing is indicative of how modern business has moved on and left Indian trading behind.  It’s a well written book and so relevant to what’s going on in trading today.”   We are proud to offer this University of New Mexico publication at 34.95 plus shipping.  Click here to order your copy.

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