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Poston & Associates, LLC was founded in 2002 by Steph Poston as a Native American woman-owned, full-service communications firm, specializing in communication services for Native American entities.

What makes us different?

 

  • Nationally recognized, comprehensive solutions that show tangible, measurable results, using first-hand knowledge of tribal protocol and etiquette.

  • Comprehensive SWOT analysis to identify clients’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

  • Independent, third party assessment and analysis.

  • Professional experience, tribal experience, credentials, and reputation.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Special Projects: Journeys and Pathways

 

[Guitar Music Plays]

 

Woman Off-Camera: Today’s August 17, 2018, and we’re speaking with Stephine Poston from Sandia Pueblo. We are joined by our videographer, Dr. Beverly Singer, and our project intern Jonna Paden. The interview is being conducted by Rose Diaz, IPCC Project Coordinator. Thank you for joining us today and welcome.

 

Poston: Thank you.

 

Rose: I’d like to share some of your personal and work history as background as we move into the interview. Ms. Poston and her siblings were raised by a single mother at Sandia Pueblo. Born in 1967, her family was one of the first ones to live in the original HUD housing projects on Pueblo. Her grandfather was a strong force in her life as a father figure, and she credits him with her willingness to, quote, “Watch and learn, show up, and get your hands dirty” unquote.

 

Rose: She was a competitive Native women’s softball pitcher, attended modeling school, and was academically inclined. She attended local schools, graduating from Bernalillo High, but her sophomore and junior years were disrupted by a family move to Memphis and a completely different environment from Pueblo life.

 

Rose: At first, she resisted, but, again, competitive sports played a significant role in those two crucial years. Her family returned permanently to New Mexico at that time. Currently, she makes her home in Sandia Pueblo, where she is raising two sons. She majored in business at the University of New Mexico and received a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.

 

Rose: Since 1990, she has worked as a public affairs officer for the US Forest Service in New Mexico and Arizona, as a tribal planner, a tribal health and safety director, and a public relations analyst for the Pueblo Sandia.

 

Rose: As a young entrepreneur, she created and is president and chief executive officer for Poston and Associates, executing a number of culturally-relevant communications and marketing campaigns for tribal communities- for tribal customers.

 

Rose: She is active in community affairs, and in 2017 became the founder of the Native Women’s Business Center. That year, she was named Native Woman Business Owner of the Year, and in 2018, was inducted into the Anderson School of Management Hall of Fame at the University of New Mexico. Just a few samples of her awards and honors.

 

Rose: Most recently, she co-authored a recently-released publication, entitled Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs in New Mexico: Surpassing Barriers and Stereotypes. Thank you for joining us today.

 

Poston: Thank you for having me.

 

Rose: And I hope I got most of that right. (laughs)

 

Poston: Yes, that’s right!

 

Rose: So, I’d like to focus our interview, today, on your experience as a leader in the field of business, which is often viewed, especially the communications and media relations fields, are usually viewed as predominantly white male dominated fields. So, I’d like to start by asking: what, in your experience, brought you to the field of business and organizational management?

 

Poston: Attending the  University of New Mexico. I think there was a group of us that graduated from Bernalillo High School, probably the first to go to college from our families, and so we kind of stuck together. So, I- There wasn’t a lot of talk back then about “What’s your career? What do you feel strongly about?” So, at some point, we had to just, kind of, choose, and business sounded like a good one.

 

Poston: So, I chose business, and ended up at the Anderson School of Management. I applied for intern jobs and I was an intern for Human Resources with the Air Force, and then I moved over to the US Forest Service as public relations. And, I really, really liked that because I was being able to craft and develop a story that the public could consume and be able to tell different sides to different issues. So, I really like that.

 

Rose: What obstacles or barriers did you have to overcome in these early experiences?

 

Poston: You get the smile and the nod, “You’re going to college? That’s good!” But, deep down, you’re not so sure that they’re sure of you, but they keep cheering you for and clapping for you, hoping for it. Because there wasn’t many of us graduated from college at that point. And, so, just mustering up that courage every day to keep showing up at school, getting the rides from my friend in Bernalillo, who’d come by, pick me up from the Pueblo. And, so, we get to the school.

 

Poston: So, just finding rides, number one. Number two, I didn’t have very good study habits. Number three, I struggle with my own confidence. And, number four, I had no choice. I had to work. So, it’s just a combination of all of that that was challenging. But, there were also- You see them now as it makes you who you are.

 

Rose: Can you talk a little bit more about that?

 

Poston: I’ve been contemplating this a lot. So, everybody- Nobody gets a pass on pain. I mean, the pain is sort of- you can be bruised, but never broken. So, it’s like, how do you provide opportunities to other Native women to look at business? And, I always think, “God, it shouldn’t have been this hard for me!” But, everything built on a success, a failure, two steps forward, four steps back. Like, all of that gives you that Pueblo creed, that business creed, that savvy to get to the next piece, and gives you that stamina.

 

Poston: So, really looking at those challenges, and just viewing them, and just telling them a different story for yourself, like this is not going to last forever. There’s another side to this, and just- it’s gonna be amazing on the other side. It really will!

 

Rose: So that hopefulness is very important.

 

Poston: Right.

 

Rose: Tell us about the beginning of your company, Poston and Associates.

 

Postan: So, I had been working for my tribe for eleven years, and I loved it. I had learned so much working for my own tribe. But, at the time, the AIPC, the All Indian Public Council, they sent out a business development type arm or economics. And, so, some of my colleagues from college, UNM, worked there, and, so, when I passed through the offices, my friend would say, “Hey, Poston! When are you gonna start your own business?” And I was like, my eyes woud roll back, because, like, I have no idea where to start.

 

Poston: So, I would start to dabble it, dabble in it a little bit, got my LLC. I started doing job coaching with the Division of Voc Rehab, and, then, I said it’s time. Let’s do this. And, so, I told my mom, “I wanna start my own business!” And she looked at me like, “Okay? It sounds good,” but I think in the back of her mind, I mean, this is a new concept. I mean, she totally loves me, she supports me, but, this crazy, odd kid of mine. Why does she take crazy risks like that? She has two kids!

 

Poston: But, so, I did it, anyway, and two of my first clients were actually a couple. One was doing solar energy and another one was doing business consulting, and they hired me, and I never looked back. And I was never hungry. And neither were my kids.

 

Rose: Yay!

 

Poston: Yeah

 

Rose: Um, so, you’ve talked a little bit about the challenges and struggles, but as you’re going into the business, and you’re actually doing business for clients, what obstacles and barriers did you have to overcome?

 

Poston: I’ve been so fortunate, but, like, what happens is it’s not the initial pieces, it has been when you’re trying to go to a new level and the new pieces that have to be involved with the legalities, the making sure the IRS is paid up. Making sure you have enough to pay for the people that work for you. I mean, that’s a huge responsibility, and to be able to continue to keep the contracts rolling.

 

Poston: And I think another challenge I’ve been in business is, there are so many capable Native-owned businesses, it’s hard for me to imagine when our tribes hire non-Natives for the work. And I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I just think there is so much room for improvement because that is recirculating the dollar back into our own communities. And that’s so powerful. So, that’s a challenge.

 

Rose: What are some of the most gratifying projects that your company has worked on?

 

Poston: I always tell this story. So, it was during the first Obama election, and Santa Clara called up and said, “Can you help us with our voter empowerment?” And, so, initially, at the primary election that year, they had about- a little over 30% voter turnout. And, so, they said, “Can you- We really want to be active and engaged. So, can you help us register new voters and help us get them to the polls?”

 

Poston: And, so, they went from that 30% turnout to nearly 70% in the general election, and they newly gained some influence, politically, in their area. And I just- it was amazing! And the other pieces that leadership actually came in and was so thankful. I was like, overwhelmed. I was all “That’s awesome!”

 

Rose: (laughing) that’s a great story!

 

Poston: Yeah.

 

Rose: You were the founder of the Native Women’s Business Summit that was recently held in 2017. How did that come about, and what do you feel were the most important outcomes?

 

Poston: Yeah. So, this thought had been rattling in my head for about two...since 2012, where I wanted to- Michelle Obama had the State of Women where just a collection and collaboration of women throughout the country to speak about ideas, about what’s happening, what’s going well, what’s not going well. And, so, I wanted to have this state of Pueblo women. So, it’s a forum, a summit sort of setting. But, I kept the- I was starting to talk to funders and we thought there’s a space for it, but, man, what a heavy lift to organize and orchestrate something like that.

 

Poston: So, what happened was I had, in the meantime over the years, I had been a part of Native Entrepreneurs in Residence, which is how the New Mexico Community Capitol, where they team you with a mentor to elevate your skillset, like where you in your business. And, so, what I discovered is there are all these other amazing Native women in business that I had not even touched base with that all kind of had the same idea. LIke, how do we have this summit?

 

Poston: So, we came together in August of 2017 and we said, “Let’s do a summit!” So then we started throwing out ideas. Maybe we should do this, or maybe they can do that. And I said, “You know what? Let’s ask them what they want to learn about.” And, so, we had this elevate session in October, and we got a lot of feedback, kind of focus groups, about what they would like to see as Native business women. In that full-blown summit. And, so, that informed our April of 2018 summit, and it was just an overwhelming succcess. People told us, “You won’t get 200 Native women in the room.” But thank goodness, we proved them wrong.

 

Rose: How many did you have?

 

Poston: Over 200, and it was- People were trying to figure out how to get more. And we felt bad everybody couldn’t get in, but just that was what we had planned for.

 

Rose: What do you feel were the largest outcomes? The biggest successes that you saw coming out of that summit?

 

Poston: I think it was really just holding the space for each other, being that Native business owner AND woman, is lonely. And, so there was actually other people who had similar challenges and who had ideas, who were everything from doing accounting to doing big contracts with the federal government, to a whole just range of people that, how come we’re not doing business amongst each ther?

 

Poston: You know what? Does it look like we need a resource guide? And the panels were pretty powerful, too, and just- The women on the panels just being frank and honest about that business owning is NOT for the weak, like you’ve got-

 

Poston: But it can be done. It can be done, and that you can build a business as something that you’re passionate about.

 

Rose: Were you finding the same sort of lack of communication within their own tribes about working with them?

 

Poston: That was one of the issues we heard about. When they are competing and responding to an RFP in their tribe, often times they are overlooked.

 

Rose: Why do you think that is?

 

Poston: I think our tribes still are struggling with the whole point of their own, maybe confidence in their own, like, they see us as young little pain-in-the-butts from when we were kids, versus that we’re business owners, that we’re totally capable, and we can do this. And the whole point is we’re loyal and committed to the tribal communities we serve. Like, you can’t buy loyalty from somebody else.

 

Rose: Well, you can pay for loyalty, but you can’t actually get it from the heart. What did you see was important about this conference that you were not expecting, to native women especially?

 

Poston: That’s a very good question. I didn’t think that we were gonna get the overwhelming response that we did, I was nervous, too. About three weeks out, we had thirty people signed up. So, we had met, and we were, like, “We are gonna get it together and we’re gonna blast it on social media. We’re gonna publicize these amazing speakers that we have, ask to be a part of this. And in those three weeks, we sold out.

 

Rose: Were you able to get corporate funding, or-

 

Poston: A little bit of everything. Corporate and-

 

Rose: Private?

 

Poston: Foundations.

 

Rose: Foundations?

 

Poston: Yes.

 

Rose: Um, you recently co-authored a book on Indigenous Women entrepreneurs. How did that come about?

 

Poston: So, as an Anderson School of Management, having gone to that school, so they have these little networks where you- they invite you to a panel to talk to the incoming native students to the Anderson School of Managemnt. There’s a little bit of connect there. And, so, Jay Frances from Laguna Pueblo and one of the professors there at the Anderson School of Management had asked us, “Can you?” And it started from the panels and just that sort of connectedness about-

 

Poston: We are, we teach business here at our school, at Anderson, but there’s nothing that reflects Native people, and what that looks like.

 

Rose: So, how does it feel to go from being a business person to being an author?

 

Poston: I would wrap my head around that! I feel really good now that you said it like that. (laughs) Um, it’s really cool, that you can do that. It can be used as a tool at UNM and I don’t know, maybe my grandkids will be, like, reading it. And it’s gonna help something- someone. It’s gonna spark an idea. It’s gonna be relatable that they have those same challenges. So, it feels pretty good the way you said it!

 

Rose: What were you thinking when you were writing it?

 

Poston: First of all, I went through this whole thing of procrastination. I was like, “I don’t wanna do it! I don’t wanna do it!” And every time the other co-author saw me, “Where’s your chapter at? Where’s your chapter at?” I was like, “OK, just do it. Just do it.” And, so, I was thinking, “It’s really fun to tell my story about where I’ve been, where I’m going, and the challenges and my own core values that are in my business.”

 

Rose: So, is that basically the core of your chapter in the book?

 

Poston: Right, about, you know, where I started, and buildling my business on the core values that I had, how you weave those cultural teachings into your business, and the pieces that come to that. The integrity, the respect are all a part of my business, and those are the core values that developed early being raised in my community.

 

Rose: That’s great. Um, you- how do you juggle, in reading several of the articles that we pulled, how do you juggle your business with your other board and memberships and volunteers and just a few of the things you’re involved in - The Southwest Association for Indian Arts, Santa Fe Communty Foundation, Native American Advisory Endownment Fund, and Brave Girls Program, and Santa Fe Indian School. How do you manage to juggle and also have a family?

 

Poston: I used to say yes to everything, because that’s, you know, in our community, it’s important to be of service, but now it is important to give back. So, now, I, like- if I know two boards are a heavy lift, that’s all I will do, and then just wait on other things. Some of the other things don’t meet as often, so you, you can manage and juggle, but just understanding if you’re gonna do some volunteering, what is going to be your responsibility, how much time, and then being honest. ‘Cause I’ve said no as well. It doesn’t feel good at the moment, but afterwards, like,  when that wears down, it’s like yes. That was a good choice.

 

Rose: That was the right choice.

 

Poston: Yeah.

 

Rose: Um, we were sort of interested in the Brave Girls Program, and what that is.

 

Poston: So, the Brave Girls is out of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute, and it’s run by Daline Coriz, who is amazing. She’s on her way to getting a PhD. And what she does is just have these young pueblo girls gather on a regular basis and expose them to different speakers, different opportunities. But, they meet and they have this sort of sisterhood to a place to exchange dialogue, maybe one of their challenges, but what are some good stuff, what’s something amazing happening in their lives. So, she had asked me to host them, because they wanted to learn how to golf.

 

Poston: And so I went up to Sandia, and I talked to the pro up there, and he set them up. They drove down, they sat there and got some golf instruction, and then afterwards they came to the grill, and I was able to treat them to a meal. And then I had, like, other- My niece, Ashley, who is a language preservationist, she came and spoke to them. Deb Haaland, who is now running for Congress, came and spoke to them. And then Charlotte Little came and spoke to them from the point of voter empowerment. And so that was cool, and they enjoyed it. And that makes me happy ‘cause it’s really important that when you’ve been blessed to have opportunities, then it’s my responsibility to make sure that we help others.

 

Rose: I thought it was interesting, as you were talking, that there’s this implied or maybe hidden agenda about networking. And is that something that you think through in working with groups like Brave Girls, connecting with other people, and making sure that they have these connections, or that they, at least, have met someone? Is that an important part of that?

 

Poston: Oh, absolutely! Is to show them somebody that looks like them, somebody who comes from their communities, it’s possible! And we only limit our own stuff through our thoughts and how do you lift them up and make those connections for them.

 

Rose: Is this a yearly program? Or?

 

Poston: She has it during the school year, so she does- I think they meet weekly, and so periodically she’ll reach out and say, “Hey, Steph, can you host us?” or “Steph, can you join us? We’re going bowling!” I’m always like, “Yes! Let’s go.”

 

Rose: Oh, great. Um, we have a little-known fact about you when you were in Memphis.

 

Poston: Yes.

 

Rose: You won the Miss Millington Beauty Pageant. What was that experience like, and what, in the long term, did you gain from that?

 

Poston: Well, I didn’t- So to be clear, I didn’t win. I was placed Top Ten, to thank you for that, like, elevation there, but for me, you know, early on when my parents invested in the modeling school to calm my clumsy, that was helpful. And just to, as you’re in high school, and you’re trying to figure out fashion, or trying to boost your confidence, or to make a difference, it was..it was- I was scared, mostly. I was really scared.

 

Poston: And, even in the interviews, I didn’t feel like I was too worldly like the other people competing, but if I had, it wasn’t the time to tell my native story because when people would find out that I was native, they would ask ridiculous questions. I always showed up as “I’m Stephine. I’m Native American from Sandia Pueblo” no doubt, all the time. But, they always had questions: “Do you live in teepees? Do you wash your clothes in the river?” And I’m like, “Aren’t you all supposed to be sophisticated? Really? You still ask those questions?”

 

Poston: So, it was a confidence booster, for sure, but it was scary.

 

Rose: And how did the other students around you view this, knowing that you’re, you know, Native?

 

Poston: Oh, they’re happy for it. Yeah, by this time, I found my way, and I guess I found some comfort, because initially when we arrived, I thought I was gonna die from loneliness.

 

Rose: Yeah, and it was a very different setting. Can you explain, can you talk about that setting?

 

Poston: Oh, absolutely.

 

Rose: When you arrived there?

 

Poston: So, when we get there, we get out of the car, I couldn’t breathe because the humidity is so heavy. And nobody looked like me. It was a very- I experienced, it was very either African American community and the White community. There was no in between, so nobody looked like me, I didn’t think? And it was- I missed home. I really had not ventured much off the reservation, and so I really was super lonely. Like, when people say they can die from loneliness, that was me. And I had to say, “Snap out of it!”

 

Rose: And that’s a hard part of your life, when you’re a sophomore and junior, you’re just starting to fit in. That was a difficult place to be. You moved there because of…

 

Poston: My stepdad had been a part of the strike with air traffic controllers, and so it was really difficult at that point in his life to re-enter the job force. So, he just re-entered the Navy. And so, then, that was what prompted us to move.

 

Rose: So that’s where you were stationed? How long were you there, just those two years?

 

Poston: Two school years, so in summers, I would come home.

 

Rose: Saving yourself. (laughs) What was the town like when you arrived?

 

Poston: It was very small town-ish, a little bit different than Bernalillo. People had a different way of talking, and apparently, I came with a New Mexican accent as well. So it really took a long time for me to concentrate on the cadence of the voice, and how the pronunciation. So, half the time, I couldn’t understand them, and half the time they couldn’t understand me. So, it was a little bit of a challenge, and so I had to really become aware of how I articulate and how I spoke. But, yeah, I thought I landed on a different planet.

 

Rose: And, again, another confidence builder as you’re-

 

Poston: Oh, I didn’t see it like that at all.

Rose: (laughs)

 

Poston: I was so mad. I couldn’t believe it. I was having a darn good time at Bernaliillo High School. I was like, really like, “Really, Mom, why do we gotta do this?” But, the family said, “That is your parents, and they still care for you. You go with your parents.”

 

Rose: Um, who do you regard as important mentors in your life, personally and professionally?

 

Poston: My mom, my sister, and my grandparents, and then my mother’s siblings. I mean, my grandparents had fourteen children, so I have a lot of aunties and uncles. So, her being a single parent, in their own ways, nobody said- they all looked after and supported. So, everybody had something to teach me. You know, I’ve been encouraged, I’ve been scolded, I’ve been all of that, but it’s...I never forget that it comes from love.

 

Rose: And professionally?

 

Poston: Professionally, I would say I look up to Gina Euell, who is from Cochiti, and I look up to Monica Jojola, who is from Isleta. And everybody who had the confidence to hire me. I’m so grateful.

 

Rose: Can you tell me a little bit about why these people are important to you?

 

Poston: Well, you just see them operating at different levels. So, Gina Yule runs...where she reproduces exhibits and banners and she- for trade shows, right? And so her clients are not only native. I mean, she just can op- she’s very popular in business. People, she’s like a go-to in the area and nationally. And the way she handles her client with happiness, great customer service, and is just thankful, and she’s doing it across all genres. You know, it’s amazing.

 

Poston: And, just seeing Monica and her tenacity and her savvy and business and being able to handle million-dollar contracts with the federal government is like, wow. And what it took, and the discipline to get there is amazing. And for my clients, what I learn from them blows my mind. And then I’m like just I am lucky to be of service to you. It’s because I bring my skill set, but it has to be tailored to what’s going on in their community. And what I learn, and what I can share with others, as I move to build capacity in other projects. Those lessons that I take forward help Indian country in general.

 

Rose: How would you advise young people, especially young women, about the need for mentors and how to find them?

 

Poston: So, one thing as a… Growing up, if I saw somebody doing something cool, I was just that kid. I would be like, “How did you do that? Where’d you learn about that?” or I ask! And I was never afraid of that. And, so, if you see somebody doing something that, wow that would be cool, go ask them! Because don’t ever fear that, because whoever you’re asking, they’re so pleased! You know, in 90% they’re like happy to share their story, that somebody’s asking. And then really, as you are growing to be able to surround yourself with people who root for your rise, and who will be honest with you.

 

Poston: So, every program that’s been out there, whether it be Emerging Leaders with the Small Business Administration, whether it be Native Entrepreneurs in Residence, whether it be the Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassador Program, I saw those as opportunities to connect, to grow, to build those leadership skills.

 

Rose: Now, some of these programs, you’ve traveled quite a bit. Can you talk about your travels?

 

Poston: So, the first time I traveled, I’ve traveled- Well, obviously I’ve been to like Juarez, with the family a lot, but that’s real close. I don’t know if that’s considered going too far. So, we didn’t travel a lot. Budgets weren’t there to travel that much. So, the first time I really went out of country was down to Caracas, Venezuela, down the Orinoco River to meet up with some of those ingidenous communities. And that was just, like, they were with their government, how we were with our government, I don’t know, forty years before and just wow. That is amazing.

 

Poston: The other powerful trip we took was to New Zealand, and as a Pueblo woman, and not really being that exposed to other- you think “Pueblos are the only Indians!” I learned better, I’m better about it now. So, when we go to New Zealand, and how they greeted us, I’m just like, “We are so much alike.” And that was just shifting for me. And really strengthening the bond with my other AIO brothers and sisters, and that respect for where they also came from, from throughout indian country.

 

Rose: How does Americans for Indian Opportunity, AIO, you know, what was your experience with that? How did you find out about it? How did you get into it?

 

Poston: So, when I went to go work for the tribe, we got this beautiful invitation from Americans for Indian Opportunity, LeDonna Harris. They’re having a reception for these ambassadors in Santa Fe, and so I went. And to hear them speak about the project- ‘cause there, everybody has to introduce themselves- to hear them speak about these ambassadors from throughout the country speaking about their initiatives in Indian country and that passion from the heart. And to hear LeDonna Harris speak, and the work that she has done, it was like, I’m gonna be a part of the program. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but, yeah. Yes.

 

Rose: And, then you got in.

 

Poston: Like, three years later. So, I got in in 1998, twenty years ago, and that was, again, life changing. Just having that exposure to other Native Americans who are doing language preservation, who are protecting the environment, protecting sacred sites, who are doing legal work in their communities. All walks of life. But that commitment to their communities and the people they serve was pretty powerful.

 

Rose: How does all of that inform how you do business?

 

Poston: I’m a good networker. So, if an issue comes before me for consulting, I have a whole network to call on. Somebody who knows something about a particular training, somebody who might be asking about or how they approached a sacred site protection issue. So, I see them, I mean it’s just this network of amazing Indian minds out there that you call upon to help you through whatever business issue or challenge you may be facing.

 

Rose: What are- I know we talked about some of your projects, but what are some of the startups that you have helped with?

 

Poston: So, recently I have supported- Laguna Pueblo, they did a census project. So, it was on the scales of the national census that come down. They tailored it for their community, and they needed somemarketing, they needed communications, ideas about how to reach out to the community, to ensure, like, to give that reassurance that the information they were collecting was confidential, and about why they were collecting that data. So, to build a stronger community that met the needs of people. So that was just really cool to see that happen, and now they have gathered the data and now they can go forward and inform the way of their community.

 

Rose: And, as a tribal planner, that made a lot of sense to you.

 

Poston: Right, right.

Rose: To have them. What about the- Have you started any businesses with young women entrepreneurs? Have you had anything, an advisory role or anything like that with some new businesses?

 

Poston: So, part of my Native Women’s Business Summit was part of that. Like, some people were, like, thinking about how to get in business, some people were already in business, and some people were there that were ready to go on to the next level. So, um, in that sense, yes, but I haven’t been intentional about what you’re saying. And that’s a good point. Another thing to add to my list.

 

Rose: (laughs) Another job for you.

 

Poston: Thanks, Rose! (laughs) Appreciate it!

 

Rose: Happy to give any advice, any time. Well, you know, your life story’s very interesting because of these kinds of connections that you have, not just locally but internationally, and, you know, do you find that people not envy but they’re sort of struck by the kind of experiences that you have? People in your community?

 

Poston: Yeah, yeah. Just...but it’s OK. It’s OK.

 

Rose: (laughs) Well, I-

 

Poston: And you- So my aunties love my stories, thank God, so when they come by, they’re anxious to hear what I- But, you know, you get the sense some people can only take doses at a time. And that’s OK. Everybody’s at a different spot. It’s cool.

 

Rose: And how do you, you know, we talked about tribal leadership in the beginning. How does someone like you begin to break down those barriers that they have to hiring local, local folks?

Poston: I’m still trying to figure it out. Trying to figure out how- learn the statistics. Every tribe is in a different space and every tribe has different capacities. So, I think it’s a timing issue. It’s like letting them know we do have our businesses and that we’re available. That’s part of our own- it’s on us. It’s our marketing, right? How we’re out there. You can’t get tired of that as a business owner, that’s part of the gig.

 

Rose: So, how do you get around- how do you get around some of those issues? Is it just tenacity? Is it old vendors are no longer doing something, so, you know, you’re invited in? Or?

 

Poston: I think, for me, the awards have helped.

 

Rose: Yeah.

 

Poston: Right? And that’s some sort of, it let’s people know- yeah! And social media, I think, plays a role in, you know, strategic planning. This is what I do. And so, you know, there’s different venues or, most of my work, honestly, is word of mouth. It’s not so much responding to that RFP but
Stephine did this training” or “Stephine did our strategic plan.”

 

Rose: So, your name is getting out there.

 

Poston: Right, right.

 

Rose: And that’s probably part of the agenda, is to get your name out there to do that.

 

Poston: Right.

 

Rose: So, my final question is: in a general sense, what advice would you give to young Pueblo people growing up today? From all of your growing up experiences, high school, business, college. What is it that you would like either to see in young people, or in the future, you know, kind of, what are the challenges and how do they need to protect themselves, or be ready for who they’re gonna be?

 

Poston: Really ground yourself in where you come from. Like, never, for me, our culture, our heritage, is really important. It’s what’s made me who I am today, for sure. And not to- elders are pretty wise! And some of them have advised me. I may have not liked the advice at the time, but reflecting back, I get it now.

 

Rose: Well, that’s interesting that you mention that, because some of our other interviewees have also in reflecting back on their lives, have said this spending time with my elders, not just related to but in the community, was vital to my success. And so that kind of an interesting theme that’s been running through this. But how do kids nowadays do that, ‘cause they’re so tied to their technology, tied to, you know, whatever it is that they’re doing. How do you see that happening in a community?

 

Poston: So, communities have tried to do this through some sort of inter-generational space. You see a lot of grandparents visiting maybe childcare facillities on the Pueblo. But, everybody’s got an auntie or a grandma or an uncle, or somebody, and when you start there, there’s something magical that opens the path for more.

 

Rose: That’s a nice way to say it. Is there anything that we haven’t asked you that you’d like to talk about?

 

Poston: No, I’m just super excited! Oh my goodness, I’m so honored to do this.

 

Rose: Well, thank you. We appreciate your time, certainly, to join us.

 

Poston: Yes.

Rose: Thank you.

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