Littlewater Trading Post, New Mexico

Encyclopedia Article


Littlewater translates to Tó ‘Áłts’íísí in Navajo. Littlewater is a small tribal chapter of the Navajo Nation location near Crownpoint, New Mexico. The Navajo Nation government system consists of five agencies (Chinle, Crownpoint, Fort Defiance, Shiprock, and Tuba City) with several local chapters within each agency. Each chapter has an administrative meeting place known as the chapter house, where the community gathers to discuss a variety of issues concerning life on the reservation.

In The Ghostway, Hillerman refers to a trading post that was most likely located in San Juan County, New Mexico on U.S. Highway 666, which is almost one hundred miles northwest of Crownpoint. A trading post is an establishment where goods can be traded. It is also a social center where news and gossip are exchanged. Trading posts have been associated with American frontier culture since the seventeenth century. Over time, trading posts developed into a cultural institution at first funded and backed by empire, later by national interests, and most often by enterprising business men.

Photo Credit: 

"Group inside trading post, Thoreau, New Mexico, 1900-1920?," photograph, Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe (009123). All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

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