TSON News | Famous Navajo artist gets racially profiled and harassed at Days Inn on Arizona’s Route 66

Famous Navajo artist gets racially profiled and harassed at Days Inn on Arizona’s Route 66

Highly-respected and world-renowned Navajo artist Shonto Begay has a horrible story to share dealing with a recent (as in the last few days) experience in Northern Arizona…

… land of the Native peoples for thousands of years…

… and now made to feel like immigrants on their ancestral homeland…

… told by European immigrants here to “go back where they came from”…

… where SB1070 is used against Native peoples because of their skin color

It began with the following Facebook update:

(Article continued below)

“and here in my own town…”

Shonto goes on to say:

The Manager of the Days Inn, west 66, I felt didn’t like me and he does not know me. I felt that if was one of the tourists, I may have been accepted; as it was, he mumbled something and later found out he wanted me out or he was going to call the police.

Later in the day, I found the room was locked and my key disabled.

Fortunately, a wonderful maid was next for cleaning and she let me in to collect my things and I moved down the street. I wanted no part in his negativity. I was a guest and I hear he is less than compassionate in dealing with his guests. I was there within my rights. By the way, the so call continental breakfast sucked, there is hardly anything substantial. Nothing actually.

Mr. Michael Patel needs a civility training in dealing with Native people and others he profiles. People like him wear horse blinds with no sense of the wonderful people and culture he is among as a guest himself, as an immigrant himself, he should have more empathy. Make the profit and to hell with the surrounding culture. I am sorry for the guy. life must have been miserable.

Better Business Bureau and the human rights commission need to know these pockets of bad businesses. It is ironic that I had written my column a few months ago on this very subject. Do not remain silent when these offenses are witnessed and are perpetrated against you. We are human and should behave as such. Peace and understanding begins with each of us.

Here are some comments I gleaned for YOU to help do something about this.

  • Here is the name and phone number of the director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau, Heather Ainardi, CVB Director (928) 213-2916.
  • Ash Patel is a member of the Franchise Advisory Committee for Days Inns of America, which represents 2,000 hotels and franchisees within the brand. He’s the man to talk to at (928) 213-0300.
  • TripAdvisor is used by visitors around the world to select hotels when travelling. There is the option on this link to “write a review”. Maybe you should. Here’s the link to the Days Inn Rt. 66 review page. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60971-d75744-Reviews-Days_Inn_Flagstaff_West_Route_66-Flagstaff_Arizona.html Certainly it will warn others to steer clear of this Days Inn.
  • Boycott!!!


7 comments on “Famous Navajo artist gets racially profiled and harassed at Days Inn on Arizona’s Route 66
  1. I just called the Visitors Bureau, Heather Ainardi, CVB Director (928) 213-2916 and she was very concerned. She would like to do a culturally sensitive training for our community businesses. I am sad to hear of this news in my hometown. 

  2. Racism is rampant in the cities mentioned in this article.  You as a consumer have a choice, whether to frequent these businesess or not.  Since it has been established that they are racist, DO NOT STAY THERE !  If you have to travel another hundred miles to bypass them, then do so.   It is that easy, to make a statement.  When these cities occupancy numbers go down, then they might figure it out.   Again,  YOU  HAVE  A  CHOICE ! 

  3. “I recently had a training session at the same Days Inn in Flag. I saw the people who ran or owned the place had “dark” skins just like me. They share and looked like “Indians” from across the sea. The next time you check in at Days Inn anywhere across Arizona be alert! Look around and see who runs the place. If you see what I’ve seen at most Days Inn get the h…l out of there. A lot of subtle racisism in Flag just like Winslow and border towns.”

    Avoiding hotels run by Indian Patels sounds like descrimination too.  Neither of you are right.  Both of you descriminate.

  4. My wife, and family will be sure not to do business with the Days Inn in Flagstaff. We go to the Hilton and they treat us right and with respect, even with my brown skin. I know Flagstaff is a racist town. I use to live there and we did business there for many years. I’ve been the subject of racist comments and attitudes in many of the businesses there. One time a friend of mine, (anglo) and I decided to visit an arts & crafts shop. We browsed around and the WHITE owner, (female) decided to follow me around like I was going to steal something. My friend noticed and she said out loud, “I guess your already labeled a thief here” We left.

  5. I stayed at that same exact hotel on the same wekend and i experienced very similar attitudes,swore i would never support that chain again, i dont understand how rude n abrasive natives (my wife is half navajo,along w m kids) can be treated by immigrants from india,Sad! Continental breakfast was THE WORST i ever seen! Rooms stunk of smoke too!

  6. Thanks for sharing Shonto’s story, although it’s so very painful to learn this happened to such a talented and kind man. I lived in Flag for years and went to college there. Many times I’ve seen racism in both small and large businesses. My husband is Dine and I am anglo. A common situation (unfortunately, I’ve had to do this a lot):  We both walk into a store, he goes his way and I go mine. I later notice that he is being followed by an employee (and he notices this many times too) as if he is going to “steal” something (he also gets talked down to by sales people, or ignored). I immediately walk up to him and make a comment to my husband like, “Honey, can you please help me pick out a gift for my brother”, put my arm around him and wait to see what happens with the store employee. Always, always they might offer their help but typically just sneak off. They always look surprised that a white lady is with a brown man. And, it seems like all is “okay” now that a white person has shown up and is “with” the brown person. I’ve seen this behavior time and time again, not only in Flag but many other places in the southwestern states. Employees/salespeople can be of any color too, not just white folks (but yes, commonly white folks). There is SO MUCH IGNORANCE in our world about different cultures and peoples. Education, compassion and common sense is needed to replace this type of blindness and hatred. 

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