Bluff is the Center of Hillerman Country

Writer Tony Hillerman used Bluff as a setting in his book, Thief of Time

Writer Tony Hillerman used Bluff as a setting in his book, Thief of Time

Tony Hillerman loved the four corners area, and we’re proud that this gracious and artistic man graced Bluff with his presence while researching A Thief of Time.

As always, Tony’s books are filled with Navajo lore, and they are spell-binding. At a moonlit Indian ruin—-where “thieves of time” ravage sacred ground in the name of profit—-a noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge of making a startling, history-altering discovery. At an ancient burial site, amid stolen goods and desecrated bones, two corpses are discovered, shot by bullets fitting the gun of the missing scientist.

Modern mysteries abound in ancient places, and Navajo Tribal Policemen Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth the astonishing truth behind a mystifying series of horrific murders.

Tony Hillerman was the former president of the Mystery Writers of America and received its Edgar® and Grand Master awards. His other honors include the Center for the American Indian’s Ambassador Award, the Silver Spur Award for the best novel set in the West, and the Navajo Tribe’s Special Friend Award. He lived with his family in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

When you are in Hillerman Country, stop by our Twin Rocks Cafe.  Pick up one of Tony’s books.  Where better to read about the heart of Tony’s settings than in Bluff, sitting on our porch, watching the magic roll over the mesas…

Mom and Duke’s Trading Post

Rose and Duke Simpson at their Blue Mountain Trading Post in Blanding, UT

Rose and Duke Simpson — aka Mom and Dad — in the Trading Post

We at Twin Rocks are Trading Post kids.  It’s sort of like being a military brat. You are in a world of your own, understood only by those who’ve been there, done that.  Thankfully, it’s world that comes to your own door, and it’s also a world that’s as big as you want to make it when you step outside and climb into your truck.

How many miles do you want to go to find a few perfect pieces?  How many artistic friends do you want to meet on the way?  How many do you want to make?

Trading is an old and venerable way of life.  The Mayans went up and down their trade route which, some say, went all the way to present day Santa Fe, NM, for more years than we can count.

Here in Bluff, when you stand at the Great Kiva, you can still see the paths that led to Chaco, the center of another civilization.

We at Twin Rocks learned to trade from our dad, Duke Simpson, still the patriarch of our family.  With five kids in five years, we went to work pretty young, and mom was good at laying down the law.  (Which was a good thing — we were kind of an unruly crew.)

Duke could and would trade for anything.  He’d head off in his pick-up truck with a roll of baling wire to start the bargaining, trading up, around and over.  (Having plenty of baling wire is kind of a big deal in west.)

This year is a landmark birthday for Duke and Rose who have been together for just about forever.  We wish them well. We’re glad they gave us the life they did.  Happy Birthday!

PS:  Yes, they still have a trading post.  And they have an RV Park.  If you want to stop by, head up the road 25 miles from Bluff, UT and say hello to those good people at Blue Mountain Trading Post!  Treasures await you.

The Origin of Navajo Ceremonial Baskets

Sacred Navajo ceremonial baskets tell the beginning of the world and other Navajo stories from the Southwest United States

Navajo Medicine Man, John Holiday

Navajo Jewel Baskets contain all the elements of a ceremonial basket and you can find them at Twin Rocks Trading Post

Navajo Jewel Baskets have all elements of a ceremonial basket

This is how the Navajo World begins, not with a bang but with the patient working of two hands to create sacred art in the form of baskets.

According to Navajo Medicine man, John Holiday, ceremonial baskets tell the story of the Southwest and when the world was created. From John Holiday, Monument Valley, Utah, April 16, 2001:

“Before the earth was created as we know it now, there were the jewel baskets–one of white shell, one of turquoise, one of jet, one of abalone, and two others.  When First Man and First Woman were created, then the regular ceremonial basket came after these baskets.  This ceremonial basket is all of the jewel baskets combined into one.”

It’s true.  The original of the ceremonial basket reaches back into the deepest parts of Navajo history.  The basket’s place is firmly embedded in the first stories of the people and their gods.

In order to understand the basket’s importance in ceremonial and everyday life, we turn to these stories to learn about its role in providing a sacred, protected space.  It also gives visual instruction about a person’s own life, and the history of the Navajo people.

Here we see jewel baskets, the foundation of all ceremonial baskets throughout Navajo history.  And, to understand the origin of these baskets, we must journey back to the origins of the Navajo people, back to their First World.

But… That story is for another time.  For now, enjoy John Holiday’s words, his beautiful spirit, and his infectious joy of life.

(We would like to thank Georgiana Simpson, author of Navajo Ceremonial Baskets, Sacred Symbols, Sacred Space for the astonishing amount of work she has put into capturing the old stories and art in books for all time!)