Why Doesn’t the Hopi Tribe Have More Businesses on the Hopi Nation?

March 15, 2023

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States, covering over 27,000 square miles across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Despite the challenges of operating a business on tribal lands, many Navajo entrepreneurs have successfully created thriving enterprises within their communities. In this article, we will explore how the Navajo people have established businesses on the Navajo Nation, using examples such as Bashas, McDonalds, and Starbucks in Window Rock and Tuba City.

In stark contrast, the Hopi Tribe has little to no successful enterprises on the Hopi Nation and are depriving our youth of employment opportunities along with loss of Hopi dollars to border towns. We need to ask ourselves why we do not have leadership and business organizations to help bring these much-needed services to our communities. Especially with elections coming up in a couple years, we need to seek out experienced leaders to help us develop on our land.

One example of a successful Navajo-owned business is the Bashas’ grocery store chain, which has locations throughout the Southwest, including several on the Navajo Nation. The Bashas’ family has a long history of working with Native American communities, beginning with their first store in the small town of Goodyear, Arizona in 1932. Today, Bashas’ operates more than 100 stores, including locations in Window Rock and Tuba City on the Navajo Nation. These stores provide much-needed access to fresh food and other essential items for Navajo families living in remote areas.

Another example of a successful Navajo-owned business is the McDonald’s franchise located in Window Rock. The franchise is owned by the Navajo Nation, which purchased it in 2016 with the goal of promoting economic development on the reservation. The franchise provides jobs for Navajo workers and generates revenue for the tribe, which can be reinvested in other community initiatives.

A third example of a successful Navajo-owned business is the Starbucks located in Tuba City. This Starbucks was opened in 2016 as part of a partnership between the Navajo Nation and Starbucks, which aimed to bring economic opportunities to the reservation. The Tuba City Starbucks is the first location on tribal lands to be operated by a Native American partner, and it has become a popular gathering spot for Navajo families and tourists visiting the area.

These examples demonstrate how Navajo entrepreneurs and tribal leaders have worked to establish successful businesses on the Navajo Nation, despite the challenges of operating on sovereign lands. By partnering with larger companies and investing in their own enterprises, Navajo business owners have been able to create jobs, generate revenue, and provide much-needed goods and services to their communities.

However, there are still obstacles to overcome in creating businesses on the Navajo Nation. Many entrepreneurs face difficulty securing financing and navigating complex regulatory requirements. Additionally, the remoteness of many reservation communities can make it difficult to attract customers and suppliers. We also face these challenges, especially when it comes to finding suitable land that is close to the high traffic areas along Arizona Highway 264.

Despite these challenges, the Navajo people continue to pursue economic development opportunities on their lands. By building on the successes of businesses like Bashas, McDonald’s, and Starbucks, Navajo entrepreneurs and tribal leaders are working to create a brighter future for their communities. Let’s work together to encourage our people to become business owners and bring more economic development to the Hopi Nation.