FLAGSTAFF—In August the Hopi Tribe added the Kachina Shopping Center, located in east Flagstaff, to its investment portfolio. It is the second shopping center acquired by the Tribe in its efforts to diversify its revenue base and to reacquire Hopi ancestral lands in northern Arizona. “While we are looking at strategies to bring economic development to the Hopi Reservation, we are also faced with the reality of having to invest outside the reservation to diversify our revenue,” said Wayne Taylor, Jr., Chairman of the Hopi Tribe. “We particularly want to have a strong presence in Flagstaff.
Cedric Kuwaninvaya, Chairman of the Land Team, explained that “Most people only think of cash as investments. In fact, investments include not only money, but also stocks, bonds and real property. The Tribal Council’s decision to purchase the Kachina Shopping Center was partly based on the positive experience with the Continental Shopping Center. Earnings from the Continental Shopping Center, in terms of 100% leased space, have been almost double the annual rate of return on our Tribal investment savings accounts. Earnings from the Kachina Shopping Center are projected to match this performance.
“By investing in real estate, we are earning better and higher returns for the Tribe,” explained Kuwaninvaya.
The Land Team, delegated by the Hopi Tribal Council to acquire property for the Tribe, sees the recent acquisitions as integral to the Tribe’s response to growing concerns about the Tribe’s financial health. “We can either allow our investments to nap, or we can make our money work hard to earn us more money,” stated Rachel
Sakiestewa-Scott, a member of the Land Team. “Up until now, we saw investments merely as a different form of bank account. In fact, we are learning that money can work for us in other ways, and that we can earn greater revenues than from banks.”
Sakiestewa-Scott added, “We currently have a dangerous dependency on mining royalties. In reality, this is an unstable revenue stream and we have to look at other forms of generating revenue. If we don’t act today to look out for the financial health of the Tribe, our children will suffer. Our population is growing and the needs of our people are increasing each year. It is therefore important for us to make certain that our money is working hard for us today.”
Funding for the Kachina Shopping Center comes from the settlement of lawsuits against the federal government included in the 1996 Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement. The Settlement provides funds for use in acquiring property outside the Hopi Reservation for the Hopi Tribe.
“We purchased land within our ancestral lands with an additional bonus. They had shopping centers on them, which adds to the value of our overall assets,” said Kuwaninvaya.
The Kachina Shopping Center is located on Route 66 and Steves Boulevard while the Continental Shopping Center is located off of Interstate 40 on Country Club Road in Flagstaff. Flagstaff, located at the foot of the sacred San Francisco Mountains, is considered the ancestral home of the Hopi. Wupatki and Walnut Canyon are among several Hopi ruins that dot northern Arizona.