Dear Mr. President: An uplifting experience on a reservation
"Dear Mr. President,
Well, I’ve rolled out far deeper into the Western countryside since I wrote yesterday’s letter, and I must say I am feeling better by the mile. When I moved to DC ten years ago I vowed that I would not get too caught up in all the silliness that seems as much a part of that place as marble monuments, but like the old saying goes, you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
That said, I had an experience that lifted my spirits right up today about how groups of people working together can accomplish great things. And you know where I found it? On the Navajo nation.
If you have not checked out the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry program, or NAPI, you really ought to. Here’s the skinny: About ten years ago tribe members in charge of this program decided to really step up the emphasis on quality and accountability on their massive (and I mean, 30 miles by 20 miles massive!) farm. Gone were the days of “good enough.” They started demanding top level production, utilizing state-of-the-art soil and water analysis. They pushed their teams to take pride in producing only the best alfalfa, wheat, beans, corn, potatoes, and even cattle. And they developed their markets worldwide to maximize their profits and promote the name “Navajo Pride.”
And it has really worked. They now turn out more than 30-million dollars worth of ag products every year for big league companies like Frito-Lay, Walmart, and Ralston-Purina. Chances are good that you’ve eaten a Navajo Pride product recently and didn’t even know it, because it was part of some other highly successful product.
Here’s the real proof though: NAPI employs 1200 full and part time workers each year and despite the recession, they have not had a single layoff. Not one. To the contrary, they have an aggressive training program to bring more young Navajos into the company, and they are steadily expanding their operation."
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Tom Foreman: Dear Mr. President # 486 "Lessons from the Navajo"