December 2021
What's New at AIANTA?

O me'a"kwa: Wishing You Safe & Happy Holidays
(I’m going to travel over there, Northern Paiute)
As the holidays approach and the weather starts to cool across the country, from wherever you are reading this, I hope you are entering the holiday season with the same great excitement and anticipation of being surrounded by your loved ones as I am. As I prepare to return home to Nevada to spend the holidays with my family, I am overwhelmed with the thought of what makes the holidays so special for me, family. My own family, and my AIANTA family.

Renew Your Membership
Join AIANTA by January 31, 2022, and receive one of AIANTA’s proprietary Apache Dancer thumb drives.
If you are already a member, you may renew your membership for 2022 by January 31, 2022 to receive the thumb drive. If you are a new member who has joined within the past 12 months, we can prorate your renewal for the remainder of 2022.
SDSU Certificate in Cultural Tourism & Tribal Enterprises
In partnership with San Diego State University (SDSU) and the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, AIANTA is offering the online Certificate in Cultural Tourism and Tribal Enterprises (“CTTE”).

The for-credit certificate, taught by Eric S. Trevan, Ph.D. (Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, Gun Lake Tribe), brings together academic and industry experts who will provide tools to help tribal tourism planners develop tribally-specific tourism strategies that sustain a balance between tribal cultural environments, economic development, tourism promotion and recreational use.

GWU Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism
Explore the fundamentals of tribal tourism planning with the Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism offered by AIANTA in partnership with the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies.
The online program brings together industry experts who help students explore the importance of including authentic Native American cultural experiences in their tourism planning.

2021 in Review: A Snapshot of AIANTA’s Year
2021 was an incredibly productive year for AIANTA. Join us in celebrating some of our top accomplishments and memorable moments for the past year.

BLM and AIANTA Partner to Promote Nevada Tribes Along the California National Historic Trail
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is partnering with AIANTA to develop a cultural tourism program for tribes located along the Northern Nevada portion of the California National Historic Trail. The California National Historic Trail (CNHT) is part of the National Trail System, is administered by the National Park Service and passes though the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed lands in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

October Town Hall Report
In October, AIANTA’s virtual Town Hall Series shifted to an in-person forum during our 23rd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference in Fort McDowell, Arizona. Led by AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert and Board President Emerson Vallo, the session highlighted the tourism industry’s successes and challenges of fiscal year 2021 and unveiled AIANTA’s new initiatives for the coming year. After a brief overview by AIANTA leadership, AITC attendees shared their priorities for the coming year in a two-way dialog.

Save the Date for Go International 2022
April 19 – 20, 2022, Albuquerque, NM
Venue: To be announced

Why Attend Go International?
Designed to help tribal tourism businesses keep up with the rapid shifts in the packaged travel landscape, Go International features expert speakers and hands-on presentations that will guide tribal enterprises and businesses in conceptualizing and developing their tourism product(s) and promoting them to tour operators, wholesalers and domestic and international group travelers.
AIANTA Finalizing its Guide to Tribal Attractions Along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
AIANTA is working in partnership with the National Park Service to identify tribes and their attractions along the Anza Trail. The attractions will be published in a print and online guide. We are nearing the end of gathering information for the guide and the accompanying map with traditional place names and Indigenous sites of significance.

It’s not too late to be included. If your tribe or business is along the trail, contact Gail Chehak at

AIANTA Continues Outreach to Tribes Along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Plans are underway by AIANTA’s Lewis & Clark team for a spring trip to North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. The team is excited about the opportunity to reach out to tribal businesses, attractions, landmarks, and other points of interest on and around the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Meeting tribal representatives in-person is a rewarding experience that not only helps promote sustainable tribal tourism, but also builds and maintains strong relationships.

AIANTA is working in partnership with the National Park Service in developing cultural heritage content and itineraries for the Trail’s new travel website, as well as AIANTA’s successful tribal tourism-focused website,

Save the Date for AITC 2022
October 24 – 27, 2022

AITC 2022 will be held at Harrah’s So Cal hosted by The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians in Funner, California. We are already looking for exhibitors, artisans and speakers. Please email AIANTA Education Manager if you are interested in participating in AITC 2022.

Harrah's SoCal, Funner, CA
NEW: Cultural Heritage Tourism Planner
Within the pages of the Cultural Heritage Tourism Planner are the stories of the many tribes, Native business owners and other hospitality professionals who are taking control of their narrative, elevating their culture bearers, reclaiming their histories and driving better economic opportunities for their citizens while doing so.

NEW: Travel Trade Manual
The Travel Trade Manual planner was designed to help Indigenous tourism professionals understand and navigate group travel and working with all levels of travel trade suppliers.

Case Studies in Tribal Agritourism
The first guide of its kind, Case Studies in Tribal Agritourism was created to inspire Native American and indigenous farmers, ranchers and other food producers interested in expanding their agricultural operations to include visitor components.

AIANTA Webinar Series
AIANTA's Webinar Series presents marketing tips, funding opportunities and other tips for creating and growing successful tribal tourism enterprises.
Discover Native America
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The award-winning Pequot Museum, located in an ancient cedar forest minutes away from Foxwoods Resort Casino, is the largest Native American museum in the world. With life-size exhibits, dramatic films, and touch-screen computer programs put the excitement of the past as close as your fingertips. It is an experience the entire family will never forget.

Observe daily life in a recreated 16th-century Pequot village, pre-and post-European contact. Walk among the trees, wigwams, and people who are cooking, talking, weaving, and working. Hear natural sounds and smell the aromas of the woodlands and campfires. Then, learn about the contemporary Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation through photographs, artifacts, maps, and a topographical model of the reservation.

You can also check out Mashantucket history along the path at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, members of tribes with ancestral homelands in the Deep South were illegally forced to move to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River and forfeit their land to white settlers. Members of Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations, who chose not to assimilate or flee, were forced to travel thousands of miles to new designated areas. By 1837, 46,000 American Indians from the southeast had been removed from their lands.

The Cherokee removal was one of the last, and it is estimated that 3,000–4,000 of the 16,500 Cherokee across the 17 detachments died during the passage, earning it the name Trail of Tears. Four detachments of Cherokees traveled by river, while the rest took one of several overland routes. Drought, road conditions, illness, starvation and the harsh winter in southern Illinois meant death was an everyday occurrence. Today, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail includes more than 5,000 miles of trail across nine states (N.C., Ga., Tenn., Ill., Mo., Ala., Ky., Ark. and Okla.) and marks the forced removal of Cherokee people.

In the News
AIANTA in the News

Partnership Strengthens Commitment to Tribal Consultation and Collaboration
Leisure Group Travel; November 20, 2021
The National Park Service (NPS) and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) have entered into a cooperative agreement to help facilitate regular, robust and meaningful dialogue between Tribes and the NPS. Strengthening relationships with Tribal governments is a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris Administration and this partnership will ensure that the perspectives, voices and traditions of indigenous communities are incorporated into exhibits, outreach and cultural tourism programs in national parks.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition From an Indian Country Perspective
Salem Reporter; November 8, 2021
“If it wasn’t for Indians, Lewis and Clark probably wouldn’t have made it,” said Gail Chehak, tribal relations and outreach manager at the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), which is collaborating with NPS to develop online itineraries to promote the tribes that intersected with Lewis and Clark on their way across what became the United States.

New Steering Group to Guide AIANTA & Leave No Trace Education Efforts
Leave No Trace; November 4, 2021
“The impacts have been large to our communities and places and spaces where we take people,” said Sherry Rupert, President and CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), during her keynote at last month’s 23rd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference.

Indigenous Tourism an Economic Powerhouse
Indian Country Today; November 2, 2021
That’s according to a first-of-its-kind study by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and Honolulu-based SMS Research. The study was released at the association’s annual conference held at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation’s We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort near Phoenix.

AIANTA Conference Opening Night Reception Photos
Native News Online; November 2, 2021
Last month, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) hosted their annual conference at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. The reception was MC'd by Ken Duncan and featured performances by his son Talon, as well as the drum group Maswadae. Delicious food, including bison appetizers, three sisters soup, and candied apples, was served. These are some photos from the event.

Indian Country's Best in Tourism
Indian Country Today TV; November 1, 2021
AIANTA Membership
Welcome New AIANTA Members

New Members:
America250 (Northeast, Nonprofit)
Choctaw Nation Cultural Center (Oklahoma, Nonprofit)
Harrah's Resort Southern California (Southern California, Business)
Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians (Southern California, Tribal)
Wild Horse Pass Development Authority (Southwest, Tribal Enterprise)

Renewing Members:
Cherokee Nation Businesses (Oklahoma, Tribal)
Choctaw Country (Oklahoma, Tribal)
Discover Salt River (Southwest, Tribal)
Inn of the Mountain Gods (Southwest, Tribal)
Oneida Nation of Wisconsin (Midwest, Tribal)
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (Northeast, Tribal)
Acoma Business Enterprise (Southwest, Tribal Enterprise)
Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort (Northwest, Tribal Enterprise)
Alaska Native Heritage Center (Alaska, Nonprofit)
Center for Sustainable Tourism - ASU (Southwest, Nonprofit)
National Native American Hall of Fame (Rocky Mountain, Nonprofit)
Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce (Rocky Mountain, Nonprofit)

AIANTA members are well-informed and play a key role in supporting sustainable and authentic tribal tourism that benefits not only member tribes, but all tribes. With your help, we’ll continue to make sure that the right national decision makers hear your voice—and all our voices—so our people can thrive and grow.

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AIANTA has joined the AmazonSmile charitable giving program. After you designate AIANTA as your preferred charitable organization through AmazonSmile, Amazon will contribute .5 percent of all purchases to help support AIANTA programming.
Thank You to our 2021 AITC Sponsors
Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
Wild Horse Pass
Silver Sponsors
Bronze Sponsors
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AIANTA collects funding opportunities that may be of interest to Indigenous or Native American tourism & hospitality enterprises looking to grow their tourism, culture, heritage, arts, agritourism or other culture and heritage programming.
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