The History of Hoel's Indian Shop
Hoel’s Indian Shop is a jewelry shop specializing in Native American jewelry, Navajo rugs, baskets, fetishes and artwork. Hoel’s was founded in 1945 by Don and Nita Hoel in “The Heart of Oak Creek Canyon”. Today, Hoel’s Indian Shop continues to operate under the guidance of Don and Nita’s grandson, David Watters and his wife Carol. They are still buying and selling only the highest quality merchandise, handmade here in the United States by Zuni, Hopi and Navajo Native American jewelers. Literally in the heart of Oak Creek Canyon, Hoel’s is located 10 miles north of Sedona and 20 miles south of Flagstaff. Collectors will still find the same beautiful and unusual things that they have come to depend on from Hoel’s Indian Shop for decades.
It was 1945 when Don and Nita Hoel left their Glendale, Arizona cattle ranch and moved to Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona . They purchased a small group of cabins called Glenwood. In the years that followed, they would add 15 cabins to the existing five and build a grocery store for their guests. This small getaway to the “cool pines” would become known as Don Hoel’s Cabins. At that time, it was an 8-hour trip from Phoenix and while it was a popular place for families to come and fish and vacation, there were comparatively few accommodations in the area.
Most of the land was still undeveloped. In those days, members of the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni Indian tribes came to Oak Creek Canyon to gather wild celery and many other herbs that they used for seasoning food and for medicine. When they stopped at the grocery store, they soon found that Don Hoel would buy their jewelry, rugs, Kachina dolls and baskets. Don and Nita sold the Native American art on a shelf next to the fishing tackle in the store.
HOEL’S INDIAN SHOP was born. Don Hoel was very interested in the meaning of the Kachinas and the designs on the baskets and jewelry. He got to know and become good friends with many artists who brought their handmade things to Oak Creek Canyon. These artists soon understood that he was interested in well-crafted baskets, rugs and jewelry made with only the best materials. Don Hoel did not accept sloppy work. He continued to learn more about Indian art and as his interest grew, so did his collection. Don & Nita built a vault in the back of their home behind the grocery store.
The result was a shop where people could buy anything from beautiful gold and turquoise jewelry to traditional silver, but always with the same promise of quality. Don & Nita’s Indian art, especially their jewelry, became quite well known, and was featured in many Arizona Highways magazines pictorials and articles. Don became a recognized authority in the field. He created interest in the beautiful art of the southwest. As interest grew, more collectors enjoyed being invited back to “the vault” to see and buy some of the beautiful things in Don and Nita’s collection. In the early 1970’s they hired someone to manage the cabins and built their home 500 ft. up the road. It was there that HOEL’S INDIAN SHOP was relocated and remains today.