TG&H chatted with Sherry Rupert, CEO of AIANTA, to learn more about Nevada’s 2023 Tribal Tourism Conference and how AIANTA supports Tribal organizations throughout the state.
Nevada’s Indian Territory representative Ben Rupert discusses how Tribal identity and cultural awareness is growing in Nevada.
Nevada’s 2023 Tribal Tourism Conference took place March 21 – 22, 2023 at the historic Stewart Indian School in Carson City, Nevada, in partnership with AIANTA (American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association), Bureau of Land Management, Nevada’s Indian Territory and the Nevada Indian Commission.
The goal of the event was to facilitate conversations between Native communities, federal agencies, nonprofit associations, and elected officials on the economic and cultural importance of a healthy hospitality industry, while providing support for Tribes to tell their stories. According to AIANTA CEO, Sherry Rupert, the event offers a vital pathway “to bring information, to bring expertise, to bring potential resources to our Nevada tribes that are thinking about cultural tourism.”
Of the millions of people that visit Nevada each year, including the residents themselves, how many really know the stories of the thirty-three Indian Reservations and Colonies that stretch across Nevada*? Most likely the answer is very few. Enter in “eco-cultural tourism” and the active roles of Tribes and other organizations in changing the conversation to spread awareness, to educate, and ultimately encourage tourists to experience Indian country not only in Nevada, but in all states.
Integrating Native American culture and respectfully experiencing historical and spiritual sites is a priority to Nevada’s Indian Territory representative Ben Rupert. He believes that Nevada is a “eco-tourism mecca” and the journey has just begun with what can be accomplished. Rupert is incredibly excited to, along with a host of passionate volunteers, leaders, and other agencies, to integrate Native American culture into the bigger tourism picture in Nevada. In conversations, Rupert’s passion overflowed as he shared stories about Nevada’s incredible stargazing (the last true dark skies in America), the wonder of Pyramid Lake’s Lahontan cutthroat trout, and the sacred and spiritual site of Cave Rock on the shore of Lake Tahoe.
According to one of the presenters, Bruce Rettig, who serves as a writer/photographer and oversees Tribal content for AIANTA, some Tribes are just starting their cultural tourism development, while others, such as the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California have a full marketing department committed to sharing their cultural story. He also shared the resources available to Tribes to increase awareness, including not only AIANTA’s international marketing reach but their site where travelers have a voluminous state-by-state resource to experience Native American businesses, visitor centers, and cultural sites.
Tribes who are looking to start or expand their Tribal Tourism footprint can find a wealth of resources by going to https://www.aianta.org/.
Tourists interested in learning more about Tribal culture, please visit https://nativeamerica.travel/
* reference: https://nevadasindianterritory.com/