AIANTA Recognizes the Best of Indian Country Tourism 

Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, Nez Perce Tourism, Leilah Young of Dixie’s Antelope Canyon Tours and Dawn Melvin from Arizona Office of Tourism are honored at the 2021 Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards 


FORT MCDOWELL, ARIZONA (October 28, 2021) – The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) recognized the best of Indian Country tourism at its annual Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards. Awardees were announced on October 28, 2021 at the 23rd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference held at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort in Fort McDowell, Arizona.

“We are delighted to honor these distinguished hospitality industry programs and professionals,” said Sherry L. Rupert. “They perfectly exemplify how Native cultural and heritage programs can attract visitors while celebrating their own heritage and culture, and we congratulate all the winners and nominees.”

Every year, AIANTA recognizes enterprises and individuals in four categories: tribal destination of the year, best cultural heritage experience, excellence in customer service and industry professional of the year.

Seneca-Iroquois National Museum was named Tribal Destination of the Year. With a mission to “honor and promote the history and culture of the Seneca/Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people by preserving Seneca-Iroquois artifacts for the public and its people,” the Museum’s collection includes more than 10,000 cultural objects, 5,000 photographs and thousands of archaeological materials.

The award for Best Cultural Heritage Experience was presented to Nez Perce Tourism, led by CEO Stacia Morfin. The cultural heritage enterprise, based in Lewiston, Idaho, offers authentic and traditional experiences from the Nimiipuu perspective through jet boat tours, Appaloosa horseback rides and other cultural events. Nez Perce Tourism has been featured in such leading publications as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Leilah Young of Dixie’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours received the Excellence in Customer Service Award. Young, the CEO of the Navajo tour company and according to her nominator, she makes a tremendous effort to give back to her community as CEO of nonprofit the Sally Jo Baah Foundation. Young was also granted a Certificate of Excellence award by TripAdvisor from 2016 through 2020.

The Industry Professional of the Year Award was given to Dawn Melvin, Tribal Tourism Manager of the Arizona Office of Tourism. Dawn has been defining, growing and sustaining American Indian Tourism for more than a decade and has received multiple awards for her efforts including leadership and public service awards.

To few previous winners, visit best-of-indian-country-tourism.


About the American Indian Tourism Conference
The annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC), the only national conference dedicated to travel and tourism in Indian Country, connects tribal leaders and tourism enterprises with tourism and hospitality professionals to help grow tourism in tribal communities throughout the United States.

For nearly two decades, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has served as the national center for providing tourism and recreational travel technical assistance, training and capacity building to American Indian nations. AIANTA is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit association of Native American tribes and tribal businesses and was incorporated in 2002 to advance Indian Country tourism. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.