Community Impact

Bison Coffeehouse: Native American Heritage Month feature

November 14, 2023

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At Legacy Health, our commitment to supporting diverse communities is central to our mission. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we proudly spotlight a local gem in our Northeast Portland community: Bison Coffeehouse. This remarkable establishment not only stands as the sole Native American-owned and operated coffeehouse in Portland but also symbolizes the spirit of Native American Heritage.

During this Native American Heritage Month, we had the privilege of speaking with Loretta Guzman, a proud member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes of Fort Hall, Idaho. Loretta graciously sat down with us to offer deeper insights into her business, shedding light on her culture and heritage. Through this special feature, we aim to raise awareness about the challenges small business owners face in our city and promote the rich Native American heritage that enriches our community.

What do you love most about being a business owner?

“I love the relationships I’ve built with my community and customers as a business owner. I have developed long-lasting relationships with some of my customers, and I get to meet new people who have traveled from out of state, heard about my business, and stopped by to support me.”


What is one thing you want people to know about you and your business?

“I believe in being fair to everyone. I never want to discriminate against or exclude anyone. That's not what I'm about or what my business is about. Although I am only one person, I try to do right by everyone and set an example of fairness and unity.”

Are there challenges you face as a small business owner?

"As a small business owner, we wear many hats. A lot goes into operating a small business, and a lot of hidden fees that pop up from the city that we constantly face drive a lot of small businesses to close down because it's hard to stay afloat and survive. I've invested so much time, hard work and dedication into my business that I will do whatever it takes to keep it running. My customers are always my number one priority, and even though we are constantly facing price increases in many areas, I try not to let that affect my customers by raising my prices, so I find ways to be creative around the shop to cut cost, so it doesn't affect my customers."


How do you celebrate Native American Heritage Month with your family and at Bison Coffeehouse?

“Historically, Native Americans have the highest record of military service when compared to other ethnic groups. That is why I chose to open specifically on Veterans Day, to honor all who have served our country. Vietnam vets also raised me. My uncle and stepfather were both Vietnam vets, and my dad was a biker, and a lot of bikers are also veterans. So, to honor them and other Native American veterans, I am hosting a mourning ceremony on Veteran's Day that will feature Native American Color Guards.”


How has your culture and heritage shaped you into the business owner you are today?

“I bring my ancestors with me into my business every day. They are a part of my past and present, and I make sure that is reflected in my shop. Representing Native artwork throughout my shop is vital because I want my shop to reflect the different tribes that are a part of our heritage. I also want other Natives to come into my shop and see themselves represented and feel welcomed. I also believe that Natives have some of the best artwork, and it's important to me to give them a space to showcase their artwork and to be able to share it with the community. Every piece of artwork in my shop has a story and meaningful connection to me. I have artwork made by my family that tells our story and artwork given to me by my customers to show their support for my business."

What do you wish more people knew about Native American heritage?

“People have their perceptions and stereotypes of Native Americans, but I want people to know we are more than that. My business opening has helped educate others and bring awareness to my heritage, our history, and the challenges we face. You can learn so much just by being open to learn and conversing with us.”


Where do you see your business in the next five years?

“It depends on the circumstances of the city over the next five years. With the current leaders of this city and the challenges small businesses face, many small businesses may not be around in five years. With the challenges I currently face as a small business, I wonder if I will be able to stay in business for another five years. It's sad to say, but it is my reality. I am doing the best I can and will continue to fight for change and fight to keep my business standing.”
Loretta Guzman pictured with Sachilco and Oliver

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