Memory Keepers Fellowship 2024: Myacedes Miller

Published June 13, 2024

About the Memory Keepers Fellowship:

This blog post series is a part of the Memory Keepers Fellowship program, a project partnered between ASU’s Community Driven Archive Initiative and the Labriola Center. The fellowship is geared for BIPOC students at local community colleges and for them to explore the field of Library Information Science early in their college career.

Ah’sha Notah (Diné) is a program coordinator for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded project “Centering BIPOC Memory Keepers and Advancing Equity and Inclusion” fellowship program. She recruited a group of seven students from different backgrounds and walks of life to take on the opportunity of being in the fellowship. Myacedes Miller worked with Archivist Vina Begay is from the first cohort.

Trading Posts Fred Wilson Collection Project by Myacedes Miller (Diné)

Black and white photo of Fred Wilson with his wife, Ruth Wilson standing in front of their trading post
Black and white photo of Fred Wilson with his wife, Ruth Wilson standing in front of their trading post. Photo from Arizona Archives Online Fred Wilson Photographs 1910-1958 Collection.

This month I focused on Native Trading Posts. Native trading posts on the reservation were places where locals could trade their arts such as Jewelry, Rugs and Baskets for household necessities. Many Trading posts were owned by non-natives who had connections to wholesale sellers. As I did more research, there was not much information on native trading posts which then led me to the Fred Wilson Collection

Fred Wilson owned a business called Fred Wilson's Trading Posts located in Phoenix Az. Some of his correspondence go as far back as the early 1920s to 1950’s. When looking into his collection I found that his Trading post was not a traditional trading post we saw on reservations. It was more comparable to a Native Art Gallery and Souvenir Shop. He sold Native jewelry, clothing, art and souvenirs. His shops were more catered to tourists and collectors. As a business man he constantly looked for new opportunities in expanding his business. He proposed an idea to the biltmore hotel to have his Shop inside. 

Black and white photo of Fred Wilson sporting a white cowboy hat with his wife, Ruth Wilson.
Black and white photo of Fred Wilson sporting a white cowboy hat with his wife, Ruth Wilson.

He worked with Native Artists, One being Ace Blue Eagle. Fred had helped him sell some of his pieces in his shop and helped him network. In one letter he had talked about representing Ace while proposing a campaign for Ford. At the time Ace Blue Eagle was a very well known Native Artist. He had studied art in many parts of the country and abroad. Ace also had a T.V segment and was often featured in newspapers.

I thought it was unique seeing how Fred worked with native artists and helped promote their work. I learned a lot looking through his archives and seeing the difference in prices. Big turquoise bracelets only went for around 6 to 10 dollars back then. It was also really neat to see news articles in his collection seeing what was going on in the country during that time and how it could affect his business. It is interesting looking through history and seeing how times change along with seeing what sticks to contemporary times. 

You can learn more about the collection by visiting Arizona Archives Online and searching "Fred Wilson Collection 1907-1967" and "Fred Wilson Photographs 1910-1958."

-Written by Myacedes Miller 

Photo of Myacedes Miller sitting on a hill composed of tan sand with footprints around her. She is sitting in front of a sunset wearing white shoes and jean shorts. The sky is blue with clouds blotting an orange sun low on the horizon.
Photo of Myacedes Miller sitting on a sandy hill in front of a sunrise or sunset.

Wilson, Fred (Frederic Edwards), 1883-1969. Fred Wilson Collection 1907-1967.

Wilson, Fred (Frederic Edwards), 1883-1969. Fred Wilson Photographs 1910-1958.