ELLIS TANNER WANTED TO INSPIRE the generations of Navajo youth who have been coming into his Gallup store since it opened in 1967. “I wanted to put positive role models around my entire trading company,” Tanner says. In 1994, the fourth-generation trader commissioned artist Chester Kahn (Diné) to paint a mural around the 1,400-square-foot space to showcase accomplished people in the Navajo community. For the next seven years, Kahn meticulously crafted around 70 portraits for The Circle of Light mural project. “He captured the personalities of these individuals,” Tanner says. For the last one, he convinced Kahn, who passed away in 2019, to paint a self-portrait. Some of the figures adorning the Ellis Tanner Trading Company walls include Annie Dodge Wauneka (1910–1997), a health-care champion who became the first woman to serve on the Navajo Tribal Council, and Carl Gorman (1907–1998), an influential artist who was also one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers during World War II. “There’s just an abundance of talent around the walls of the trading company now,” Tanner says.

Read more: Home to the best in traditional Native American art, Gallup expands its creative reach to build a better community.

Tour Ellis Tanner Trading Company at 1980 W. NM 602, in Gallup, where you can purchase a book about the mural for $7.95.