Category Archives: Business

COVID-19 Is Destroying the Livelihoods of Native Artists

“The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of Native American artists. But they are responding with a creative resolve born from centuries of adversity.” P. Leigh, The New York Times

Our great-grand folks went through the Great Depression, the artist Marvin Martinez says. Now I feel like I’m reliving my ancestors. Credit-Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

Mr. Martinez creates pottery blackened by blue smoke that recalls the legacy of his great-grandmother, Maria Martinez. Credit- Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: On Tribal Lands, a Time to Make Art for Solace and Survival — By Patricia Leigh, The New York Times

“For over 30 years, Marvin and Frances Martinez have risen with the sun to drive from their home at the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico to the centuries-old Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.

They arrive early to snag a prime spot beneath the rough-hewed wooden beams of the portal, a colonnade where they sell pottery blackened by blue smoke that recalls the legacy of Maria Martinez, the grande dame of Native American pottery and Mr. Martinez’s great-grandmother.

Native American vendors under the portal of the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, circa 1925-1945.Credit…Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM:DCA)

They are among the 70 or so Native American artisans gathering here to earn a living…This living museum of craftspeople, a program of the New Mexico History Museum, is a Santa Fe institution that draws 300 to 1,000 tourists a day. That was before the yellow caution tape went up and downtown Santa Fe became a ghost town.

The gathering of Native artisans under the portal is a Santa Fe institution that draws 300 to 1,000 tourists a day. Credit- Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

New Mexico’s 23 tribal communities make up almost 60 percent of reported cases and half the deaths, though they comprise just 11 percent of the state’s population… Last month, Indian Market in Santa Fe, the country’s oldest and most competitive market, announced that it would be going virtual this August, spawning ripples of anxiety among artists untutored in e-commerce or living in isolated areas with little or no internet connectivity.

‘Most Native artists rely heavily on the principal markets as an economic lifeline,’ said W. Richard West, Jr., president and chief executive of the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. ‘To have it all come crashing down is really tough.’

Mark Bahti, who owns galleries in Tucson and Santa Fe, noted that many artists come from large extended families. ‘When people support an artist, they are supporting a community,’ he said. At Zuni Pueblo (pop. 7600), in a hard-hit part of New Mexico, some 77 percent of households have at least one self-identified artist at home. A young cooperative called ARTZ — for Ancestral Rich Treasures of Zuni — includes Zuni fetish carvers, who sculpt small animals and other spirit world figures from alabaster and other stones. But the tour buses and visitors stopped coming after the virus outbreak.

A mural by the street artist jetsonorama on Highway 160 on the Navajo reservation.Credit…Chip Thomas

On Highway 160 on the Navajo reservation, where jewelry vendors once set up stalls, a black and white mural by the street artist jetsonorama uses the haunting image of a masked Indian in a headdress to underscore, in both Dine’ and English, the urgency of following public health protocols…The economic importance of traditional cultural practices extends to regions not widely associated with the arts. A market study of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota by the First Peoples Fund, a nonprofit that supports Native artists and culture bearers found that 79 percent of home-based businesses were in traditional arts like beadwork and quillwork.

Rolling Rez arts, a roving arts studio, credit union, internet hot spot and mini-trading post on wheels, aimed at reaching artists in far-flung settings. Credit- Bryan Parker

A solution was Rolling Rez arts — a roving arts studio, credit union, internet hot spot and mini-trading post on wheels that until the virus struck — fanned out across 11,000 square miles to reach artists in far-flung settings…The Fund, based in Rapid City, is among the organizations stepping up to provide financial relief for Native artists in 25 states, who have reported losses ranging from $150 to $38,000 since March 1.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 06/12/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. 

Where to begin? After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably Benefits.gov.

COVID-19 online resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basic information. Indian Health Service National Congress of American IndiansNational Indian Health Board

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered a speech at the funeral for George Floyd on Tuesday, calling on his family to turn his death into “purpose.”

“Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,”Democratic Presidential nominee  ~Joe Biden~

TODAY WE MARCH — TOMORROW WE VOTE!

STAY STRONG — STAY SAFE

“How Native Business Owners Can Manage During COVID-19”

“…A chat with expert Tracy Stanhoff,of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce. Stanhoffhosts free webinars aimed at Native business owners dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.” R. Tupica, Native News Online.Net

Tracy Stanhoff-President

Excerpt: How Native Business Owners Can Manage During COVID-19, By Rich Tupica, Native News Online.Net–

Tracy Stanhoff of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce hosts free webinars aimed at Native business owners dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the third in a series of Q&A profiles spotlighting both established Native American business owners and emerging entrepreneurs who are working through the pandemic. Native News Online shares their story, including how they became the person they are today and how they’re coping with the COVID-19 crisis. If you have a suggestion for a person we should profile, please email rich@indiancountrymedia.com

Being a small-business owner when the economy is strong is often a challenge—surviving through a pandemic turns that into an uphill battle not everyone will survive. 

Luckily, during trying times, there are experts like Tracy Stanhoff, president of American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California, who are offering advice and support to Native business owners across the country.
Back in 1988, she founded AD PRO, a firm located in Huntington Beach, California. The company is a full-service advertising, graphic design and branding firm with clientele that includes everything from Fortune 500 corporations and Tribal enterprises, to government entities and small businesses.

Stanhoff, who is also a former Tribal Chair of Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, chatted with Native News Online about what entrepreneurs can do to weather the storm and be prepared for the post-Coronavirus economy.

NATIVE NEWS: In response to COVID-19, there are some new financial resources available through the Small Business Administration (SBA). What should people know about those?


Tracy Stanhoff: One important thing is, there’s a lot of fraud in the loans right now. Just go through the SBA portal and go to your local bank that you use already. There are a lot of people sending e-mails out saying they are loan brokers for the Small Business Administration, and they’re not. Once you get a loan, document, document, document your uses of the money. You need to do that so you can get it forgiven under the regulations they have. 

NATIVE NEWS: If someone is a new Native business owner, what would you tell them right now?

Tracy Stanhoff: For new businesses, I’d say, ‘Good luck.’ I don’t mean to sound flippant or rude, but when you’re first starting up, there are a lot of challenges— I couldn’t imagine just starting a restaurant during this time. It’s never easy, even when the economy is doing well… So, for new businesses, I’d say, just hang in there or reevaluate what you’re doing, because there might not be tomorrow for you.

NATIVE NEWS: For those looking to be proactive in saving their business, what would you recommend?

Tracy Stanhoff: I’d encourage everyone to join our chamber’s weekly webinars. There are several facets, but one of them is (about) what you can do to stop the bleeding and see where access to capital is going to be. So we’ve worked with the SBA, and the states and the feds to help provide input into the program and stimulus packages that are out there now for Indian Country.


NATIVE NEWS: Your chamber webinars are hosted on Zoom, is anyone able to join in?

Tracy Stanhoff: People are from all over the country. Our California chamber really has a national presence, and it has for a long time… We’re just trying to help anyone we can and we share information. If somebody’s been through something, they’ll reach out and give advice—and we’re open to it. And, it’s nice to be able to connect with people right now, we’re all sitting at our houses so it’s good to be human.

NATIVE NEWS: Where do people goto join these chamber meetings?


Tracy Stanhoff: Go to our website aiccal.org, or follow me on Facebook, I post info on there.

NATIVE NEWS: Face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer are in demand, what would you say to someone looking to pivot in that direction?

Tracy Stanhoff: “There are some opportunities happening now to support the COVID fight. For instance, we just had a webinar on supply chain management: what can be sold to the government and what cannot….Also, what irks me is, I’ve heard people say, ‘Tribes don’t have to follow rules and regulations as strictly as hospitals,’ or whatever. Well, we better! With the liability that you sell something to somebody on a reservation that’s not good, and they think it’s good, and then they expose people — that’s traumatic and negligent…”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 04/24/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. The National Retail Federation also has over 70 corporations looking for workers.

COVID-19 online resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

For The Kiddies:

Former First Lady Michelle Obama-Reading to Children

Michelle Obama Is Reading Books to Children Stuck at Home, By Mariel Padilla

“Michelle Obama read one of her beloved children’s books aloud on Monday, live streaming to hundreds of thousands of people stuck at home. The virtual story time was the first in a four-week series called “Mondays with Michelle Obama.”

In partnership with PBS Kids, Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books, Ms. Obama, the former first lady, said she would share some of her favorite children’s books, provide an opportunity for children to practice their reading and give families a much-needed break during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Join me, @PBSKIDS, and @penguinrandom for read-alongs on Mondays at 12pm ET Facebook and YouTube!  https://twitter.com/pbskids/status/1251196381840187395 …

Be Smart…Be Safe!

Paiute Tribe Has the Only Native Cannabis Lounge in Las Vegas

“Nevada law restricts marijuana consumption to private residences until 2021, but sovereignty exempts the Las Vegas Paiute.” D. Hernandez, The Guardian

Benny Tso, the former chair of the Las Vegas Paiutes, stand inside Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace. The dispensary is owned by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. Photograph- Jeff Scheid

Excerpt: ‘The tribe has taken over’: the Native Americans running Las Vegas’s only cannabis lounge-Dan Hernandez, The Guardian

“A couple seated at a high-top table smoked a joint, while six tourists in a circular booth nearby drank THC-infused beer and reviewed the flower menu. It was the morning of the Southern Paiute’s traditional hunt, when tribal youth learn to shoot and harvest mule deer as adult ‘providers’, but Benny Tso, 43, was stuck in the Las Vegas Paiute’s new cannabis tasting room, taking meetings and making calls.

The Tudinu, or ‘desert people’, from whom the Las Vegas Paiute descend, have lived in southern Nevada  for more than 1,000 years, spending summers in the mountains and winters by a valley spring until the area was taken over by white settlers. They worked as ranch hands for several decades, and in 1970, the Las Vegas Paiutes became recognized as a sovereign nation, after which they launched several businesses.

Customers gather at the NuWu Tasting Room on Saturday 5 October 2019. Photograph- Jeff Scheid:The Guardian

In 2017, they opened the NuWu Cannabis  Marketplace, a glass-walled, big box structure that half resembles a car dealership. NuWu – which means ‘the people’ in Southern Paiute – sits on the tribe’s colony one mile away from the neon-lit Fremont Street Experience.

Last month, NuWu became the go-to dispensary for many in Las Vegas, and not just because it’s the only one with a drive-thru window. NuWu opened Nevada’s first cannabis tasting room in October. Sovereignty exempts them from a law that restricts marijuana consumption to private residences until 1 July 2021…for the next 21 months, this 55-member Southern Paiute band has the pot lounge business all to itself.

‘We laughed at first about it. Like, ‘oh crap, we’re going to be weed dealers?’ said Tso, who served as the tribal council chair for over 10 years. ‘After we got the jokes aside, we started digging into the numbers. It was just a different way to generate revenue for the tribe when we realized we needed to do something to put our people in better situations. Within a year and half this is going to compete with our other businesses,’ Tso said of NuWu Cannabis Marketplace. ‘I think we’ve prolonged our tribe by three to four more generations.’ He noted that federal assistance for healthcare, education and law enforcement services has dwindled since the recession…Occasionally, NuWu has to cut people off. But overall the experiment has gone so well that two to three other Native American tribes visit each week to learn about the industry some are calling ‘the new new buffalo’, a reference to the term used for casinos when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988…The strength and ingenuity they have used to survive centuries of marginalization has parallels to the Las Vegas Paiutes’ creation story, which states that their ancestors roamed the desert as ants until a great flood forced them to crawl up a mountain and ascend trees. When the water receded, they returned to the ground and became ‘wo legs’ – human beings – and an especially communal, hardworking sort.

‘We do get teased because we’re city Indians, but a majority of us know our culture and that’s the point,’ said Tso, whose arms are covered in tattoos of traditional Paiute symbols and tools.

His community may need NuWu to be that mountain they climb in the event of a perfect storm, since the tobacco shop revenue plateaued years ago, right as healthcare costs rose to levels unmet by federal support.”

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Air Canada is the First Airline to Hire an All Indigenous Crew!

“An all-Indigenous crew — two pilots and nine flight attendants — marked National Indigenous Peoples Day in the operation of an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Vancouver.” Wind Speaker News

An all-Indigenous crew

Excerpt: Air Canada is the first to deploy an entirely Indigenous-operated flight.

“Air Canada’s flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner, flight AC185, was also greeted by Indigenous employees on the ground and received a Musqueam welcome on arrival.

‘We are honoured to salute and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Air Canada’s 350 First Nations, Inuit and Métis employees, who originated the idea of operating a flight with an all-Indigenous crew, said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Senior Vice President – People, Culture & Communications.’

‘We are thrilled to champion their pride in their identity and their professional attainments in aviation, which also makes them incredible ambassadors for our company and role models for young people.’  Air Canada is the first to deploy an entirely Indigenous-operated flight acknowledging the contributions of their Indigenous employees, said JP Gladu, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.”

Also in Canadian Indigenous News:

“Indigenous points of view now included as Canada updates cancer control strategy” By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker.com Contributor

“Indigenous officials are thrilled Canada’s newest strategy for cancer control includes priorities and actions specific to Indigenous people.”

Category: Business, Culture

Cheech and Chong help The Puyallup Tribe Open Cannabis Store

“The Puyallup Tribe is hosting the grand slam of 4/20 celebrations by opening it’s second legal cannabis store in the Tacoma area, Commencement Bay Cannabis while hosting the iconic marijuana users, Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin and Tommy Chong.” V. Schilling, ICT

Cheech and Chong

“Cheech and Chong, known for such movies as ‘Up in Smoke,’ ‘Nice Dreams’ and more, have long been known for their movies involving the comedy surrounding heavy marijuana use. In addition to their use in movies in the 70s and 80s, they now advocate for the use of marijuana in medicinal ways as well as recreational use.

Cheech and Chong get everyone rolling at Commencement Bay Cannabis | Tacoma Weekly

Commencement Bay Cannabis is the second cannabis retail location that is part of Puyallup Tribal Cannabis Enterprises, an organization that is utilizing the growing popularity of the cannabis industry to create jobs and careers, education and training to tribal members and work to contribute to the tribal economies in the region.

‘Having Cheech and Chong here takes what would have been a great event to a new level,’ said Puyallup Tribal Council Chairman Bill Sterud in an emailed statement to Indian Country Today. ‘This store is an important part of the Tribe’s economic development, and it’s wonderful to see our long-term plans coming together.’

Cheech and Chong at new store. | Weekly Weedly

The store has an impressive inventory as well as other offerings to benefit the public in terms of recreational and the medicinal use of marijuana. The store sells marijuana flowers, buds, oils, topicals, and edibles. It also has a self-serve kiosk as well as medically-certified consultants in selecting cannabis in terms of its medicinal benefits.”

Category: Business, Culture

Navajo Model Starts Luxury Skin Care Line: “This Is My Beauty”

“Ah-Shi in Navajo means, “this is me, this is mine, that’s me”! Ah-Shi beauty…….This is MY BEAUTY luxury skin care brand is for the fearless and unstoppable souls who enjoy quality skin care products.” Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere

Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere has started her own skin care line, Ah-Shi Beauty.

Excerpt: ‘This is my beauty’ by Pauly Denetclaw, Navajo Times

“Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere grew up in Ganado, Arizona, where she had her kinaalda, played high school sports and eventually graduated from Ganado High. It was also where she discovered her love for entrepreneurship. ‘I saw the opportunity of making money at a young age,’ Lafrance-Chachere said with a chuckle. ‘My family is very traditional.’

So what I’d do was save all my good candy and I’d save it until it was movie time. ‘Then I’d make my own concession stand at my grandma’s house and I’d charge my whole family,’ she said trying to hold back her laughter. ‘I was a genius back in the day. I had no overhead. I got my snacks from the cracker jack throw and boom.’

Today, at 27, she’s a small business owner of a restaurant, Four Arrows western wear and recently Ah-Shí Beauty, a high-end skincare line.

‘Growing up and to this day, I’ve been dealing with my own personal skin,’ Lafrance-Chachere said. ‘We’re at war all the time. What am I doing so wrong? Do I need to put the achii down or what? I love my potatoes and fried everything!’

After years of trying skincare products that ranged from the dollar store to high-end skincare lines, she decided to try to make her own. So in 2014, she started her journey to creating Ah-Shi Beauty.”

Visit Ah-Shi Beauty here: https://www.ahshibeauty.com/about/

 

A Word From Native Boss Babe (Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere):

Ah-Shi Beauty

“As I sit here in my office, brainstorming about my next business move and mapping out my next color pallet for my new clothing line. I hold my Navajo Tea up close and close my eyes. I vision myself back home in Besh-Be-toh, AZ right now the reservation is getting lots of rain so I can only imagine the smell of the wet dirt and sage brush surrounding my home. I vision my little sisters, my parents, my husband enjoying riding in the open valley, my family and I remember why I am doing what I am doing. I am doing this for my future family (I do not have kids yet), my family, and my people on the Dine Reservation… I vision my business to be big enough to hire my people on the reservation and off.

To help the next generation of young business women/men and help them pave their way.  I hope to be one of their stepping stones to help them achieve their dreams and goals… To be a Native Boss Babe outside the four scared mountains is tough but it is possible. It requires a lot of work and faith. There will be walls that seem to never fall and let you by. So you will have to think creatively and find away to knock it down or just find another way around it. You will face fear that will make you sit back and intimidate you. But do not let that stop you, you can do two things: Face it and power through it, or get help to overcome it.

If you can vision it than you can achieve it. Believe with all your heart. Never let anyone tell you  that you cannot do it. Protect your vision. Remember your four clans make you who you are! Our ancestors fought to hard for us to settle with okay. Let’s strive for the stars, and never settle with okay but the best. ..   Now go get it. This what makes me a Native Boss Babe. My culture, my faith, and my passion to achieve my dreams and goals.” 

 

Category: Business