CHILDREN OF THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION: Photographs of Life on a Montana Reservation
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Kool Breeze 

In 2012, Isaiah and Ian Webber returned home to the Blackfeet Reservation looking for work, but faced slim prospects, as the reservation’s unemployment rate hovered around 69%. Isaiah had just completed two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and his younger brother, Ian was home from college for the summer; both needed jobs. After months of unsuccessfully looking for work, the Webber family decided to create their own opportunity—the Kool Breeze Ice Cream Truck. Ian and Isaiah converted a passenger van into a mobile vending truck while their mother, Susan, used her accounting background to craft a business plan. With the assistance of a matching grant from the Blackfeet Tribe, they purchased the first month’s inventory. Kool Breeze became a community-wide success, selling out of ice cream week after week throughout the summer of 2012. The Kool Breeze Ice Cream Truck enjoyed a second successful summer in 2013. The owners expanded their menu to include 20 ice cream treats plus new products like candy and drinks. They repainted the exterior of the truck, hired three employees and even offered delivery service for “ice cream emergencies.” Ian has gained recognition around town, where he is affectionately known by all as “Ice Cream Man.” Looking toward the summer of 2014, the Webbers’ goal is to add another truck to the fleet in order to serve the reservation’s outlying communities. Kool Breeze will also accept credit cards and food stamps. Susan’s long-term goal is to extend the business into the winter by selling espresso and coffee drinks. Kool Breeze is a rare example of entrepreneurial achievement on the Blackfeet Reservation, where there are very few Native-owned businesses.

 

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© 2018 Rebecca Drobis. Photographs of Life on a Montana Reservation