Navajo Nation to acquire Goulding’s Lodge
Historic Goulding’s Trading Post and Lodge purchase aims to preserve cultural legacy and boost economic opportunities
MONUMENT VALLEY, Ariz. — In a momentous occasion echoing with cultural significance, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, flanked by key members of the Navajo Nation Council, signed the contract to acquire the iconic Goulding's Trading Post and Lodge. Nestled between the rugged sandstone cliffs of Oljato and Monument Valley, this historic property has not only been a local landmark but also a vital cultural and economic hub for the Navajo people for nearly a century.
The decision to purchase the property for $59.5 million, financed predominantly through the Navajo Nation Land Acquisition Trust Fund, was reached after deliberation and discussions among Navajo Nation leaders. Nygren, along with Navajo Nation Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley and Council Delegate Otto Tso, recognized the immense potential this acquisition held for their people.
"Goulding’s holds deep significance to our Navajo people," Nygren said. "It’s part of our shared history and identity. I’m proud we could make this investment to restore tribal ownership of such a place."
Nygren said the purchase is a positive step for the Navajo Nation because the Navajo people will benefit from the business, employment and much needed revenue. It returns an iconic part of Navajo country fully into Navajo hands after decades of outside ownership.
Nygren and Curley joined Council Delegate Herman Daniels Jr., Oljato Chapter President Willis Begay and representatives of Goulding’s Trading Post sat before a tsé bee hoogan, a Navajo female hogan, and had their photos taken to capture the historic moment.
Established in 1924 by Harry and Mike Goulding, the trading post emerged as a vital center of Navajo culture and commerce. Its strategic location at the foot of 100-foot-tall sandstone cliffs, deemed sacred by the Navajo people, became a source of pride and connection with their heritage. Over the years, Goulding's Trading Post on 640 acres has become synonymous with Navajo artistry, entrepreneurship, and warm hospitality, drawing visitors from around the world.
The acquisition faced its share of challenges, narrowly passing the Navajo Nation Council's vote during the summer session. However, the Council's subsequent approval on October 17 marked a turning point, allowing the Navajo Nation to take control of this historically significant site.
As part of the purchase agreement, a 60-day due diligence investigation period is currently underway, ensuring that the property and financial records are thoroughly examined before the sale is finalized. Representatives of Goulding's Trading Post, including longtime operators Waylon and Monica LaFont, expressed their willingness to support the transition, underscoring their dedication to the local community that has sustained the operation for decades.
“In sixty days, we will know for sure if this purchase is right for the Nation,” Nygren said.
The current Goulding’s managers, Waylon and Monica LaFont, said if the sale is completed, they would be a phone call away if the tribe needed their help.
LaFont, originally from Chinle, Ariz., said he has run the operation for 43 years. He said he could not have done it without the local community who make up workforce
"I could not have done this without the local people, my employees, the local support," LaFont said. "Nearly 300 Navajo individuals work tirelessly to keep this property thriving, and their dedication is invaluable."
The acquisition also signifies a shift in economic strategy for the tribe. Curley highlighted the importance of diversifying revenue streams and embracing new economic opportunities.
"When Council was created, it was created to pass leases, for oil, for different types of natural resources,” she said. “And 100 years later, we’re totally changing our outlook on our future”
With an economy rooted in cattle ranching and tourism, especially in the awe-inspiring Monument Valley, the purchase of Goulding's Trading Post and Lodge is poised to further elevate the region's economic prospects.