AIANTA Announces Board Slate

The Board Nominating Committee has selected the following Board Slate for this year’s elections:


​Oklahoma – Travis Owens
Mr. Owens brings more than 15 years of experience in the cultural tourism industry. His experience is unique in that he has worked through multiple facets of the tourism industry and understands many of the challenges and opportunities for tourism development in Indian Country. His work over the past 15 years has been heavily focused on helping Cherokee Nation develop its tourism offerings. This work has resulted in the restoration of more than a dozen historic properties, the development of four gift shops, eight museums, a cultural collection center, nearly 50 original exhibitions, and hundreds of original programs and events that have drawn millions of visitors. He has been a part of the growth of tourism in Cherokee Nation from inception through operation. Travis wants to continue to learn from AIANTA’s membership and understand each unique challenge so that we can help lift the voices and stories of tribal nations across our country.

Great Basin – Brian Wadsworth
Mr. Wadsworth has a passion for working in Indian Country, and has an interest in assisting the further development of tourism opportunities for all sovereign nations. He is an aspiring Certified Public Accountant with over six years of Tribal Government and Enterprise experience, over three years of governmental auditing experience, and several years of fiscal leadership positions. Brian’s experience also includes, having served on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Council, current Commissioner on the Nevada Indian Commission (NIC) and the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT), and current Treasurer for the Board of Directors for Numu, Inc.

Southern California – Kate Anderson
Ms. Anderson is an indigenous communications professional who wants to give back to our greater Native American community. Kate is an enrolled member with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the Director of Public Relations for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The mission of AIANTA is an important one that she can relate to. Cultural tourism empowers cultural perpetuation. She is a strong believer that when we tell our stories -through words, images and in-person experiences- we can truly share the spirit of who we are as Native American people. As the Director of Public Relations for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, she has the opportunity to tell the Tribe’s story in a number of ways. One of those ways is through cultural heritage tourism with visitors from all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Palm Springs each year. Currently, they engage with more than 150,000 guests on our ancestral lands at the Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon hiking areas. The Indian Canyons features more than 60 miles of hiking and walking trails and the world’s largest oasis of Washingtonia filifera palm trees, the only native palm tree to the California desert.

Central Plains – Judi Gaiashkibos
Ms. Gaiashkibos serves as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs and regularly works on critical tourism projects that are specifically targeted towards encouraging tourism for their Native communities. She is incredibly passionate about the work she does in the State of Nebraska to advocate for Native people and issues and excited to bring that passion and excitement to the AIANTA Board to focus on tourism efforts. She has honed a unique skillset through her work at the Commission as well as through her service on numerous Boards and Advisory Committees that are in line with AIANTA’s mission.

Northwest – Jamie Sijohn
Ms. Sijohn is a proud member of the Spokane Tribe. Her hometown is Wellpinit, WA located on the beautiful Spokane Reservation. Her career has given her the opportunity to find ways to share the positive stories of our tribal community and our tribal people. She worked within TV newsrooms 20-plus years as a writer and moved her way up to managing two national broadcast newsrooms. The newsroom experience helped her to become a communicator for tribes as a public relations resource. There are many, many stories that need to be told and shared through mainstream media. She believes we cannot afford to not find ways to tell our tribal success stories. Currently, she is the Marketing Manager at one of two casinos owned and operated by the Spokane Tribe.

Rocky Mountain – Darian Morsette
Mr. Morsette is the Director of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Tourism Department and has served for 10 years. He also serves as Board President on the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance. As he does in his capacity now, he works to ensure that traditions continue to be revitalized. He believes in the mission to protect, preserve and educate the world about the living culture, history and environments. With this it brings economic development, so the ongoing premise of constantly developing and enriching our native lands, culture by providing an avenue to market and promote by providing maximum service in Native American Country is a high priority on his list.

*The Pacific Northwest, Central California and Northeast Regions are still vacant.

AIANTA bylaws provide the opportunity for additional Board applicants to also be proposed through a petition process. Should any member wish to petition, nominations may be made for any directorship by a petition signed by not less than 10% of AIANTA members in the respective region. The petition should state that the member nominated has agreed to the nomination.

The committee chair shall certify the ballot for candidates as proposed by the AIANTA Nominating Committee. Names of qualified applicants will be placed on the ballot and voted on during the American Indian Tourism Conference.

Petitions must be received no later than 15 days prior to the annual meeting. The deadline to submit is October 11, 2021. Send nomination applications accompanied by a completed petition to AIANTA Board Secretary James Surveyor at and to the AIANTA Chief Executive Officer Sherry L. Rupert at

If you have any questions concerning the nominations process, contact:

Sherry L. Rupert, Chief Executive Officer or call (505) 724-3592