May 10, 2011

Navajo businesses on the Net

At the (new) old trading post:  The Old West meets the information age

By Alysa LandryWinter doesn't conduct all his business inside the store. The Toadlena Trading Post also has an online presence, where customers from around the globe can view and purchase authentic Navajo rugs. The website,, went live in 2004.

Straddling the traditional and modern worlds presents Winter with unique business challenges.

"The website serves much more as information for people," he said. "It's a wide world out there, so you have to realize the potential of the Internet, but we like the old world here."

Winter, who lives in a mobile home outside the trading post, has Internet access via satellite, but few of the local residents have computers. Most have a hard time finding cell phone service.

Weavers who are Internet savvy sometimes sell on popular sites like eBay, but many who are still spinning their own wool before spending months in front of the loom simply don't want to bother with the hassle of marketing online, said Linda Larouche, Winter's soon-to-be bride who works by his side at the trading post.

"We're at a crossroads between tradition and cyberspace," she said. "I can't imagine living with my foot in two worlds."
Comment:  For more on the Native Internet, see Aboriginal Affairs Working Group Website and The New "Mukluk Telegraph."

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