Our times are changing. I worry that in the next ten years we’re not going to have a lot of this anymore. We’re going to assimilate ourselves into the rest of the world and it’s going to be forgotten.
JoDonna Hall Ward grew up on a Navajo reservation, and when she left to go to college, she thought it was for good. But when her mother fell ill, Ward returned home to take care of her. “Two days before she died she looked at me and said, ‘don’t lose what I worked so hard for. I’m a Navajo woman and this is what I built.'”
What she had built were three small businesses – a restaurant, a gas station, and a laundromat, that Ward now owns and runs. For Ward, having businesses like these in a tiny town like Kayenta, Ariz., is a way to keep people from going elsewhere to spend their money – the dollar stays in Kayenta. Her restaurant The Blue Coffee Pot is particularly beloved in the community, as a place where people can work and be paid fairly, or simply come together and feel comfortable.
“You’ve got to always have that respect for the community first, and if you can do that you’ll always stay in business. That’s my philosophy. People should be first, before all the franchises. And that’s what The Blue Coffee Pot is able to provide. And that makes me feel good.”