If you have been to Gallup, you have doubtless seen some of the little roadside stands along the highway pullouts where the Navajo women have a table and a little display of jewelry. Many are making peanuts but with a good location and good merchandise many are making $400 or $500 or $600 a day for as many days as they care to work. Look at their cars. Ive never seen so damn many Escalades in my life. One family had five. They have no credit, they pay for their cars in cash.
Twenty-some years ago I was offered a job on the reservation that paid $200,000 plus. The plus meant that no one knew the true figure. Base was around 200,000 but there were so many automatic sidelines that you could easily double that figure under the table and there werent any tax men around to say boo. The only limitation was time and stamina. The company making the offer had plenty of takers but none of them lasted more than six months. The job itself was gruelling and you had to be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no real days off except on a catch-as-catch-can basis. That, added to the harsh cultural and living conditions, drove all takers off in months under pain of divorce.
I was young and bushy tailed and I knew exactly what I was getting into. I figured that I would do it for the adventure, five years and out. Before I could make the move the offer was withdrawn as the company decided to try to run the territory from around the edges, Farmington and Flagstaff, and make less money but have fewer headaches.
Gallup is still a good place to get rich. They have cracked down on liquor and severely dented that but that opens up opportunities slightly more upscale. Hotel occupancy is high and rates are solid. Tradesmen with a skill dont have a lot of competition. Being in New Mexico, Gallup is covered by their truth in labeling law but Indian jewelry is still a hot item and entry costs low. Its a nasty place to live but with the reservation and I-40, the money is flowing.