I've lived in Arizona for 70 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books and travel.
Shopping for Authentic Native American Art
Most tourists to Sedona, located in the northern portion of Arizona, enjoy viewing the wide variety of Native American Art that so many galleries and stores here offer. All the traditional items of jewelry, pottery, rugs, blankets, kachinas and baskets and more can be found at a variety of places and prices. However, for those visitors who want authentic items that are hand made by Native American artists who are committed to quality craftsmanship and use high quality materials, I thought visitors might like to know where I as a collector and Arizonan for over 60 years would recommend. These stores offer artist profiles on most of their items. If you can't travel to Sedona, or want to purchase an item at a later time, all the stores listed here maintain websites.
1. Garlands Rug Gallery
Garlands Navajo Rugs opened in 1976 and is still a locally owned and operated business. The variety of Navajo rugs is fabulous. Some rugs hang in displays, while stacks of rugs are piled on the floor. The designs are both traditional and modern, and the quality of the wool and of the weaving is top level. Sometimes you will see the artists themselves bringing in their items for sale. Garlands philosophy of being a high quality "trader" is to encourage high quality arts while allowing for creativity. They never offer fake discounts. Remember that to create an authentic Navajo rug, raising a sheep, carding, cleaning and dying the wool, as well as the time spent weaving and the skill of the weaver all determine the price. The rugs are labeled with the name and clan of the weaver. Recently I overheard a visitor exclaim that she purchased an authentic necklace, with matching earrings at a half price sale of $30. I'm glad the lady liked her purchase, but I'm also certain that she had purchased a set of "costume" and not authentic Native American jewelry.
In addition to the rugs, Garlands offers, Zuni fetishes, kachinas, baskets, and pottery. Recently, they opened a Collectors Room that offers some sculpture, home decor and paintings. Garlands is not inexpensive, but the store and the building Garlands is housed in is a must see if nothing else.
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2. Kachina House
Kachina House is a bit off the main streets in West Sedona, at 2920 Hopi Drive. This store offers the biggest selection of kachinas in Sedona. They offer the old flat style kachinas, traditional representational kachina dolls, and antique kachinas. Most are signed and the owner Patty Topel will be happy to give you information on the type of kachina and the carver. The jewelry selection is a smaller line in the store, but the store has two rooms of pottery, both traditional and modern. If your main interest is in viewing or purchasing kachinas, this is a great place to look.
3. Hoel's Indian Shop
Hoel's Indian Shop is located about 10 miles north of Sedona in beautiful Oak Creek Canyon at 9589 N State Route 89A.Sedona. Don and Nita Hoel bought a small group of cabins on the property back in 1945. To accommodate their guests they opened a small grocery store. When Native Americans came to Oak Creek Canyon to gather herbs and plants, they learned that Don would buy their arts,but only if they were well made. From a few items displayed on a grocery store shelf, the Indian Arts business grew to be Hoel's Indian Shop. Hoel's has exceptional antique and modern baskets and when the shop advertises selling items of collector quality, it's true. They are beautifully displayed along with rugs, pottery, jewelry and kachinas. Hoel's is still family owned and operated by Don and Nita's grandson and his wife and the items that they sell are still very high quality.
4. Garland's Indian Jewelry at Indian Gardens
Garland's Indian Jewelry is just north of Sedona at 3953 N SR 89A in Indian Gardens, a beautiful shady green spot in Oak Creek Canyon. The store has the distinction of recognition by National Geographic Traveler Magazine, "Garland's has the finest collection of Indian Jewelry in all of Indian Country." The store was opened in 1985 by Bill Garland, and is still family and locally owned. While Garland's Indian Jewelry offers items other than jewelry, their main focus is on jewelry. They carry both antique and modern items in traditional and contemporary designs. Their large selection of concho belts always makes me drool. Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the jewelry and the artists. Next door is an excellent place to relax, have a coffee or sandwich and enjoy the beauty that surrounds all sides of Indian Gardens.
5. Ninibah in Tlaquepaque
Ninibah in Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
Ninibah which means Return Safely is located in Tlaquepaque Suite A106 on Hwy 179 in Sedona. The store opened in 1975, and was purchased in 2005 by the House of the Shalako company of Peralta New Mexico. The store is small and offers personal service. On the back wall is a fabulous Buffalo Skull titled Last of the Herd that is decorated with 9,000 karats of natural blue turquoise. The store offers sandpaintings, beautiful Pueblo pottery, and wonderful jewelry. If you search Ninbah on the internet, The House of the Shalako site will appear with a detailed list of the Native artists whose work they carry.
I don't have any personal or business connection to any of the stores listed here, but I can tell you, I have purchased items from each of them, and have found the staff at these stores to be knowledgeable and fair.