Born and raised on the Navajo reservation, Kialo Winters is Diné and Zia. He came from a family 3 children. As a grade school student, Kialo did not participate in many extracurricular activities requiring family transportation. His family had little money to own a reliable vehicle. He participated during in-school activities with student council, National Junior Honor Society and a variety of academic clubs. His high school years were spent at a private school and eventually graduated from a public school.
Kialo spent 15-years as a teacher in Navajo schools. His years a teacher grounded him to understand student dynamics of school life and their home life. Since he grew up in a very simple setting, he knew how important two hot meals at school, his friends and a library card were. Kialo said, “I traveled the world in books.”
Kialo met Terri in the late 90s and they started a family. Their girls – June, KC and Erin are passionate athletes and enjoy school. June is a graduate school researcher studying molecular/cellular biology at Brown University. KC and Erin are in high school.
In the beginning of his career, Kialo felt a calling that was bigger than what he was doing. He worked in classrooms teaching students academic concepts and processes. He trained teachers how to integrate technologies into classroom curricula. He shared with school districts the creative ways of publishing Diné language and culture content online using trending technologies. He transitioned to a job working with a Navajo owned technology company. This changed his outlook from work life to entrepreneurship.
Never satisfied with quenching ‘the calling’ as he worked for companies and schools, Kialo was introduced to the world of business. An accelerator program for Native owned businesses came across his desk. Terri had the idea of a Bed & Breakfast, and they used this idea to apply for a business grant. They were awarded a 6-month mentorship with a business professional in Albuquerque, New Mexico and startup funding.
In the beginning, Kialo did not understand the concept of business design and it was a steep learning curve. After years of trial and error, the idea of a B&B pivoted to a tour company. This business transitioned to establish an umbrella company for the tour business and a language learning website. Momentum was on his side. Kialo partnered with Gilbert Tsinnajinnie to establish a campground business in Nageezi, New Mexico.
Navajo Tours USA is now mentioned in National Geographic, travel blogs and by industry influencers. His business is still a private business taking no capital from investors. His next goals are to build infrastructure at Dahsani Campground and develop NavajoDictionary.com.