Each Tribe is a Different, Autonomous and Sovereign Entity
Some tribes consider tourism one of their economic development priorities, while others live with and tolerate visitation, do not want to increase it, preferring to simply manage it to their greater advantage. The approaches to tourism development and management are as unique as the tribes themselves. Yet some tribes have succeeded in adding tourism to their economic development mix in a way that affirms the tribal community and improves the quality of life on the reservation.
Commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
For four years beginning in 2003, nearly 60 tribes have been presented with the opportunity and challenge of a receptive and enthusiastic audience of American and international visitors – estimated at 25 to 30 million — during the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration. The National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial has been coordinating the planning functions and technical assistance for the commemoration of the bicentennial in collaboration with tribes, states, private non-profits, and the legislative and executive branches of the government. On July 1, 2002, President George W. Bush signed A Proclamation – Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, which designates 2003 through 2006 as the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. Tribes that are now located along the Trail, as well as those that came into contact with the expedition 200 years ago, have debated the question of whether and/or how they may make the most of the opportunities, and withstand the exposure and visitation that this national event will be presenting to all local communities along the Trail. Additionally, can those historic, national opportunities be extended to benefit off-Trail tribes as well? These types of questions are what the Tourism Toolkit has been designed to isolate and answer.
Ready or Not, Here They Come
More people visit Indian Country every year, according to anecdotal evidence. They come for many reasons: recreation, business, gaming, visiting friends and relatives, culture, scenery, and curiosity. Visitors are attracted through various marketing mechanisms – tribal and state websites, newspaper articles, advertising, books, brochures, visitor guides, billboards and word of mouth. Imagine how many more people would visit if they were better educated about American Indian history, culture and contemporary life and were offered more reasons and opportunities to come visit.
Are Tribes Gaining or Losing Benefits from Tourism?
Are tribes getting the maximum benefit from existing visitor traffic? Is attracting more visitors part of their overall economic development strategy? Are they making as much revenue as possible from those already visiting? Are they creating products to increase those revenues? Are they developing new visitor products that, at the same time, will improve the quality of life for tribal members? Are they conveying a clear, strong sense of the people and place to visitors? Do they have community and tribal leadership support for tourism development? For many tribes, the answers so far are “no.”
What resources exist that could help turn this situation around?
What can tribes do for themselves to turn the “no” answers into “yes” answers? The Tourism Toolkit project is designed to explore these questions and offer suggestions, ideas and models, rather than answers. It emphasizes “can do,” not “should do.”
National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
The Tribal Tourism Opportunities Toolkit is a project of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) in collaboration with Seventh Generation Strategies (SGS). Funding support was provided by the National Park Service (NPS) Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Challenge Cost Share program.
The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) is a national, notforprofit organization formed to support and assist tribal governmental efforts to preserve, maintain and revitalize their cultures and traditions. This is accomplished mainly through the support of the Tribal
Historic Preservation Officers’ programs, which are those tribal governments that have assumed the responsibilities of the state historic preservation officers on their respective tribal lands. NATHPO’s mission is tribal historic preservation. This is accomplished by informing and supplying building blocks for successful tribal heritage and cultural protection and rejuvenation, including tribal tourism. Tribal tourism is a demonstration of tribal sovereignty, in this case, through the tribe’s decisions of cultural site protection and interpretation. The Toolkit provides assistance to tribes with tourism development and management.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Challenge Cost Share Program
The United States Congress added funds to the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail (“Trail”) budget to be used for partnership assistance and Challenge Cost Share projects associated with the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. This Tribal Tourism Toolkit is a Challenge Cost Share
project to provide assistance to Tribal nations in planning for development of historic interpretation, commemorative events, and infrastructure development relating to the Trail in preparation for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. For additional information on the Trail and the Challenge Cost Share Program, go to: www.nps.gov/lecl/welcome.htm
Seventh Generation Strategies (SGS)
The mission of Seventh Generation Strategies (SGS) is to assist tribes, communities, non-profit organizations and corporations with legacy projects in conservation, preservation, restoration and heritage/cultural tourism projects that enhance life for at least the next seven generations. Jana Prewitt, founder of SGS, is a tourism, recreation, government relations professional who has developed, managed and marketed theme parks, water parks and other leisure attractions. She has also run tourism promotion non-profit boards. From 1997-2001, she was Assistant to the Secretary and Director of External Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.
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