Message #106 From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 Subject: Bed N Belagana Inns [ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] : Navajo B&Bs open window on culture They are bed-and-breakfast inns, but with a distinct flavor. For $85 to $90 a night - $20 more for each extra person - thousands of tourists from across the United States and the world are getting a chance to learn firsthand what it's like to live on the Navajo Reservation. http://www.azcentral.com/news/0315bed.shtml Navajo B&Bs open window on culture By Bill Donovan Special for The Republic March 15, 1998 WINDOW ROCK - They are bed-and-breakfast inns, but with a distinct flavor. Forget about amenities such as electricity and running water. In many cases, there is no bed, and guests are expected to fetch their own wood for the potbellied stove that provides the only heat for the dusty, possibly century-old hogan. But for $85 to $90 a night - $20 more for each extra person - thousands of tourists from across the United States and the world are getting a chance to learn firsthand what it's like to live on the Navajo Reservation. It's an industry that is not only booming but is now beginning to attract the attention of tribal officials in charge of economic development and tourism, who are beginning to encourage Navajo families to set up their own bed-and-breakfast operations in main tourist centers on the reservation. Fred White, director of the tribe's tourism office, estimates that there are from 25 to 30 B&Bs currently on the reservation. But tribal officials say that this number could easily quadruple and still not meet the demand expected to occur in the next few years, especially from foreigners who come to the reservation expecting a unique experience they can boast about to friends back home. Will Tsosie Jr., who runs one of the biggest operations on the reservation - Coyote Pass Hospitality in Tsaile - said this is what motivates him and his staff to try to give customers a vacation designed to meet their needs and budgets. "Depending on what kind of accommodation you want, you can really immerse yourself in the Navajo culture," he said. For some, this could mean a rustic vacation in a hogan where visitors read by a kerosene lamp and where the only restroom is the outhouse next to the hogan. It could also mean a hogan located in an isolated spot on the reservation where tourists could retreat with only their thoughts, the rugged Navajo wilderness and an occasional deer or coyote for company. But some visitors opt, Tsosie said, for a hogan in the center of a thriving Navajo community with beds, electricity and water as well as an opportunity to mingle with Navajo families and participate in their daily activities. Although many hogans have no beds - visitors are encouraged to bring sleeping bags - a traditional Navajo breakfast is always provided, consisting of vegetarian fare such as blue-corn pancakes, oatmeal, tortillas and plenty of Navajo tea. Dinner, which could consist of traditional fare such as mutton stew and fried bread, is extra. The larger bed-and-breakfast inns also provide, at extra cost, activities such as tours, lectures on Navajo culture, and opportunities to visit area weavers and silversmiths, watch them at work and buy some of their wares at below-market prices. While Tsosie has the ability to put up customers at any of 12 hogans owned by members of his extended family, most of the bed-and-breakfast operations are smaller, usually run by one family with access to one or two hogans. "It's not an easy job," White said. "You not only have to be a people person, but you have to be able to run a business and willing to do a lot of work." Leo Watchman Jr., whose family operated a bed and breakfast for two years in Navajo, N.M., said the occasional need that they provide round-the-clock activities for visitors made his mother reconsider the venture. "She enjoyed it, but it probably took a little more time than she was willing to devote to it," he said, adding that his family only $3,000 to $4,000 a summer opening up their homes to tourists. Tsosie said that despite an unemployment rate on the reservation at roughly 50 percent, money isn't the only reason Navajo families started bed-and-breakfast operations. "Money is secondary," said Tsosie. "Members of my family don't have the money to travel far from the reservation, so we have the rest of the world come to us." He said in the off-season, most of his customers come from Arizona and the Southwest; come summer, however, the foreign customers dominate the market, with about half of his business coming from such countries as France, Italy and Germany. In the past, the tribe has allowed tourist operations off the reservation to thrive, with visitors coming onto the reservation for the day and then returning to border communities, where they spent the bulk of their money. But White said the tribe is now looking at ways to change this, and having Navajo families set up more B&Bs is one approach being promoted by economic development officials. The strategy is not without challenges. For one thing, only Tsosie's operation and one other, Eagle Feather Enterprises in Shiprock, now comply with tribal law requiring them to charge tribal lodging taxes and, thus, operate with the tribe's blessing. The others exist as part of the underground economy because of tribal laws that restrict homes in grazing areas from being used as businesses. White said that if the tribe continues to encourage the industry, tribal legislators will have to pass laws allowing it to thrive.