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Many First Nations people decide to start a tourism-related business for the benefit of their families, children, and to provide for future generations. The enterprise must be correctly registered under Indian, state and federal jurisdictions.

Indian people who plan to create a business catering to tourists are required to register the business federally, with the Tribe and the state, and with the appropriate tourism departments. Navigating the system is confusing, and many simply choose to call upon an Indian attorney who thoroughly understands all the legal issues, and who will ensure that everything is handled quickly and correctly. As the business grows, other issues can arise, including the need for estate planning for business succession, as well as many regulatory matters.

Navajo Nation Business Licenses: Yearly Certification is Required

The Division of Economic Development is in charge of regulations affecting businesses operating in the Navajo Nation. Navajo or other Indian-owned and operated businesses are granted “First Opportunity” for bids on various projects. Gaining this advantage entails ensuring all legal requirements are in place, as outlined in the Navajo Business Opportunity Act. The certification process includes the following requirements with regard to which business will get priority:

  • First Priority: 100% Indian owned and controlled business entity.
  • Second Priority: Businesses that hold a 51% or higher Navajo majority ownership.
  • Other entities that are owned and controlled by Indian people, in whole or a majority interest.
  • Any tribally owned and operated business.

Business Certification

Tourism businesses are subject to strict certification requirements, and are recertification is required on a yearly basis. Each year, within six months after the certification expires, the owners must submit the following:

  • A cover letter requesting recertification of your Indian tourism business;
  • Updated financials for the business, notarized and verified;
  • A complete list of the business’s past projects, including the type, location of the project, and dollar amount associated with the project;
  • Any changes in company structure, ownership, organization and activities in which the business is involved.

Navajo Nation Laws and the Tourist Industry

The Navajo Nation Council has jurisdiction over economic development under the Navajo Nation Code. The Nation comprises more than 25,000 square miles, and has more than 250,000 members, of which over 175,000 live within the Nation. The facts reveal that although the majority of the people living on the Nation are Navajo, in past years, a large percentage of contracts were awarded to non-Navajo people. The Council has taken action to remedy this situation for the benefit of the Nation as a whole. Creating a tourism businesses is a powerful way Navajos help to enhance the survival of their families and the entire Nation.

Establishing a Tourism Business in the Navajo Nation

If you are planning to establish a tourism business within the borders of the Navajo Nation, you are required to be certified, with legal repercussions if you fail to keep all paperwork up-to-date. You will be required to file a business application with the federal and state governments. It is crucial that you establish the correct business structure that will be the most favorable for your enterprise, whether as a sole proprietor, a limited partnership, a limited liability company or a corporation. Limited liability companies are required to have a state LLC or corporate certificate.

An Indian Lawyer Who Supports Entrepreneurs

Our firm is dedicated to assisting members of the Navajo Nation to succeed in the tourism business, and will handle all of legal issues, including helping you to determine the business form that is best for the success of the enterprise. We can assist in getting a federal tax ID number, a Wholesale or Retail Seller’s Permit, a Business License, as well as the necessary State Employer Tax ID number (EIN). Some corporations are organized under Tribal Law, and can share in sovereign immunity. We are here to help you make the critical decisions that will affect you, your family and your business, in the years ahead

Indian tourism businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and each has specific regulatory requirements. To ensure all of the details are handled correctly, C.J. Lee & Associates, P.C. represents Navajos and other First Nation people to correctly establish an Indian tourism business. Some popular tourist-related enterprises include:

  • Tour guides
  • Hiking guides
  • Performances (dance, storytelling)
  • Galleries
  • Motel, hotel
  • Spa or resort
  • Conference centers
  • Restaurants
  • Campgrounds
  • Demonstrations of Navajo arts (weaving, silversmithing)
  • Traditional foods
  • Bed and breakfast facilities
  • RV parks
  • Specialty stores (outdoor gear, photographic, etc.)
  • Others

Call C.J. Lee & Associates for immediate assistance in all matters related to starting an Indian tourism related business. Our founder, Calvin Lee, is a Navajo, and formerly served as counsel for the Navajo nation of Legislative Counsel. He has an unmatched dedication to serving the people of the First Nations in their entrepreneurial efforts. Call now for fast and efficient services to handle legal matters involved in starting Indian tourism-related business.