Tribal members join Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corp. at groundbreaking of new Clarkddale hotel
CLARKDALE, Ariz. — Hopi Tribal Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma, along with several Hopi councilmembers, joined members of the Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Taawaki Inn in Clarkdale April 21.
The new hotel is planned for the corner of South Broadway and Sycamore Canyon Road, near Tuzigoot National Monument. It will be a 44-room, two-story lodge with the intention to immerse travelers in the world of the Hopi culture.
HTEDC said they are pleased with the location and collaboration with the Town of Clarkdale. They hope to have the hotel up and running by late 2023 or early 2024.
“We were looking for a piece of property that we felt embodied what we were trying to get out of the hotel,” said Lucinda Smiley, Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation CEO. “Tuzigoot is right across from
the property, which has a historical connection to the Hopis.”
Smiley said the hotel will sit on a bluff and have a view of Tuzigoot and the community of Jerome.
“It’s about creating a peaceful, quiet atmosphere for travelers and educating them about the tribe,” she said. “We’re having music piped into the public areas, so when you walk into the hotel after a long travel day, you have a place to rest.”
The architecture of the building will have a lighter color with a white-washed look like a Hopi house with a large stained glass window of the sun. Hopi music will be piped into the public areas and musicians will come down to perform.
“The round circle is a handmade stained glass window of the Tawa Kachina, which is the Hopi Kachina sun face,” Smiley said. "The symbol personifies the sun with a face and projecting rays."
The hotel will also boast a conference room, exercise room, small restaurant and an art gallery with authentic Hopi artwork.
“We have purchased original artwork and the artists will have an opportunity to sell their art,” Smiley said. “It’s very hard to get original Hopi art off the reservation.”
HTEDC believes the Taawaki Inn will create jobs for the Hopi people and provide a place to have Hopi artists come to showcase their artwork, since many artists rely on their artwork as income for their families.
Smiley said the hotel is designed to share the Hopi culture and help people learn about the tribe’s history. The corporation plans to host Hopi lectures by artists and offer social dances on the back patio for the guests to enjoy.
In addition to the Taawaki Inn, HTEDC also owns the Muyawki Inn in the Village of Oak Creek, the Hopi Cultural Center Motel at Second Mesa, shopping centers in Flagstaff and a medical building in Payson, according to Smiley.
The Clarkdale location was chosen because of the large influx of tourists in the Verde Valley and Sedona areas.
“The hotel on the reservation is a healthy hotel, but it doesn’t have the tourism that we are anticipating that will come to this hotel simply because of its location,” she said.
The corporation hopes that with success at the Clarkdale location, visitors might then become interested in exploring other opportunities on the Hopi reservation.
“We’re going to be working on some programming to get tourists up to the reservation, some type of package agreement,” she said.
HTEDC’s mission is to create and harness an economic environment that will blossom, by securing resources and providing the guidance and training that allows Hopi Tribe members to prosper and preserve their homeland and culture.
The federal government allows Native Tribes to set up corporations that can create commercial economic development both on and off the reservation, Smiley said.
“The federal government told Native American tribes they could create what they call Section 17 corporations,” she said. “What that means is we are allowed to do economic development on behalf of the tribe on and off-reservation. We have our own board of directors, we have our own bylaws and we are chartered through the Secretary of the Interior.”
The Hopi tribe is the sole shareholder, but they act independently of the tribe. The assets and liabilities are their own, Smiley said.
“The purpose of the corporation is to create revenue for the tribe and create jobs for the tribe,” she said. “We try to expand into various avenues of business so the tribe will always have some type of income coming from us.”
For this project, the corporation purchased the land and is paying for the hotel, but the revenue made from the hotel will be combined with the other revenues of HTEDC properties.
“We give dividend checks to the tribe, based on how we do,” she said.
The tribe has experience with hotels after purchasing the Muyawki Inn in Oak Creek, but this will be the first new construction of a hotel off the Hopi reservation and new ground for the tribe.
“The hotel is our first big venture into building something,” she said. “We’ve never built something from the ground up.”