Enough Good People Award Winners

Every year, AIANTA recognizes tribal tourism entities that demonstrate an outstanding committment to showcasing authentic culture, history, heritage and/or the arts.

Be sure to nominate your favorite tribal tourism destination, experience or enterprise by July 26, 2019, to be considered for the 2019-2020 awards ceremony,

 

2018-2019

Cherokee Qualla Boundary

Cherokee Qualla Boundary

Tribal Destination of the Year

Home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for more than 11,000 years, the Qualla Boundary is located at the far west end of the great state of North Carolina and is home to more than 8,000 Eastern Cherokee people. The region’s beautiful scenery, natural resources, world-class gaming and distinctive culture and heritage draws more than six million visitors to the area annually. Here, the award-winning Museum of the Cherokee Indian uses artifacts, artwork, computer graphics and interactive features to tell the story of the Cherokee people, while the Cherokee Historical Association operates the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a re-creation of a 17th century Cherokee town and the “Unto These Hills” outdoor drama, which provides visitors with historic reenactments.

 

Indian Summer Festival

Indian Summer Festival

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

One of the largest Native America cultural celebrations in the United States, the Indian Summer Festival brings together members of the 11 sovereign tribes of Native Wisconsin, who have sustained their lives and well-being for centuries.

 

 

The Suquamish Museum

The Suquamish Museum

Excellence in Customer Service

Serving the tribal and local community, the Suquamish Museum features an interactive main exhibition gallery, a rotating exhibition gallery, educational classroom space, research space, a museum store and beautiful grounds featuring a storytelling area. Docent-led tours and a self-guided walking tour explore the grave site of Chief Seattle, the Veteran’s Memorial and other local points of interest. The museum’s employees are known for their courtesy and great pride in their museum as they share the history and culture of the Suquamish people.

 

Director's Awards

  • Ed Hall, Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Ethel Makinen, (Sitka Tribe of Alaska), Sitka Native Education Program (retired)

2017-2018

Talking Stick Resort

Talking Stick Resort

Tribal Destination of the Year

Owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Talking Stick Resort features 496 rooms, a spa, three pools, five restaurants, six lounges, casino gaming, a 650-seat showroom, and 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space. The Orange Sky restaurant features spectacular views of the Community’s 19,000 acre natural preserve. The Talking Stick name is derived from the Pima Calendar Sticks that Pima artisans carved images to commemorate important events. The resort publishes a Cultural Experience Guide for guests sharing sculpture and art from tribal members found throughout the resort; a description of the historic photos on exhibit and the Talking Stick Resort’s Cultural Center which showcases the largest collection of Maricopa pottery outside a museum and the Native American dance performances hosted every Friday and Saturday in season.

 

Stewart Father’s Day Powwow

Stewart Father’s Day Powwow

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

The Stewart’s Father’s Day Powwow celebrates American Indian heritage and is a fundraiser to preserve the historic Stewart Indian School (1890-1980). More than 30,000 children attended Stewart Indian School, including students from Great Basin Tribes (Northern and Southern Paiute, Washoe and Western Shoshone), and other tribes throughout the region. The school, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is recognizable for its stone buildings crafted by Hopi stonemasons in the 1930’s from local river rock. The annual three-day event attracts native artisans, drummers, dancers, alumni and visitors from across the country. In 2015, the Powwow was named “Event of the Year” by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

 

Donovan Hanley, Navajo Nation

Donovan Hanley, Navajo Nation

Excellence in Customer Service

In May, 2017 Brand USA and AIANTA brought eight Italian media to the Southwest to experience Indian Country and Donavan Hanley was instrumental in making that familiarization trip a reality. Hanley has previously worked for Navajo Nation Hospitality, actively engaging with tour operators, meeting planners, DMO’s, the Arizona Office of Tourism and AIANTA to promote the Navajo Nation. He has also served as the President and Vice President of the Arizona American Indian Tourism Association.

 

Director's Awards

  • Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC)
  • Marcie Metropolus, GLITC
  • Keith Harper, Kilpatrick Townsend Stockman
  • Danny Marti

 

2016-2017

Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem Corporation

Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem Corporation

Tribal Destination of the Year

Alaska’s only privately owned cruise ship destination, Icy Strait Point is located in the Native Village of Hoonah, a small Tlingit community on Chichagof Island along the Inside Passage, about 25 miles south of Glacier Bay National Park. The restored 1912 salmon cannery features more than 25 daily tours and shore excursions, all infused with local Native culture and hospitality, including Tribal Dance, Wilderness/Wildlife Discovery, the Wildest Kitchen, Bike Treks, a Cultural Legends Show and the World’s Longest Zipline, restaurants, retail and historic landmarks. Each guest receives a one-of-a-kind experience infused with local Native culture and hospitality. Achieving balance between cultural values and economic development in cultural tourism can be challenging as cultural commodification and cultural values are contradictory, but continual growth and development with mandatory cultural respect and integrity drives and defines Icy Strait Point to the world.

 

Puye Cliff Dwellings

Puye Cliff Dwellings

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

The ancestral home of the people of Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, Puye Cliff Dwellings provides an in-depth look at the areas cliff dwellings and ruins. Listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1966, Puye features cultural attractions local to Santa Clara, including traditional dances and songs sung in the Tewa language, bread-baking demonstrations and tours of the cliff and cave dwellings. Puye also provides tours of the area’s Harvey House, a noted stop for visitors traveling throughout the Southwest by railroad in the 1800s, and the only Harvey House built on an Indian reservation.

 

Tina Whitegeese

Tina Whitegeese

Excellence in Customer Service

Tina Whitegeese (Pueblo of Pojoaque), has long represented Native American culture, heritage and tourism. At the time of the award, Tina was the group sales manager at the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort, but her career dates back to 2009 when she represented Puye Cliffs. Tina, a descendant of the people who resided in the famed cliffs, has been actively involved with the New Mexico Hospitality Association since 2011. She has also worked with the State Tourism North Central Region Tourism Board.

 

 

Director's Awards

  • Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation
  • Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii

2015-2016

Acoma Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum

Acoma Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum

Tribal Destination of the Year

Located approximately 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum serves as the visitor center and museum for visitors to the Pueblo of Acoma. Designed to represent and recreate the ancestral architectural styles of the Acoma People, the cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Acoma history, traditional pottery and other art forms. Open year-round, the cultural center offers guided tours led by tribal members who explain the history and the life of the Pueblo, both past and present.

 

Alaskan Dream Cruises

Alaskan Dream Cruises

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

Native-owned Alaskan Dream Cruises is the ideal experience for visitors looking to explore Southeast Alaskan wildlife, massive glaciers and Native Cultures. Cruise itineraries include visits to Tingit, Haida and Tsimshian villages, and also provide unique on board experiences, including cultural interpretation of the local history, traditions, landscapes, flora/fauna and the natural surroundings of Southeast Alaska.

 

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Excellence in Customer Service

The 2015 Excellence in Customer Service Award was given to Monica Sedillo, Elroy Havaton and Rory Magenty of Grand Canyon Skywalk. Owned and operated by the Hualapai Nation, the Skywalk is a 10-foot wide, horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet out over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Looking down you can see right through the glass platform to the Canyon floor located 4,000 feet below. At the nearby Native American Village, guests can explore several dwellings of tribes indigenous to the region, including the Hualapai, Navajo, Plains, Hopi and Havasupai.

Director's Awards

  • David Uberuaga, Former Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park
  • Dick Bash
  • Joe Garcia, Former Governor, Ohkay Owingeh
  • Kristen Lamoureux, PhD
  • Ron Erdmann, Former Deputy Director of Research, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, U.S. Department of Commerce

 

2014-2015

Chickasaw Country of Oklahoma

Chickasaw Country of Oklahoma

Tribal Destination of the Year

With boundaries that engulf thirteen counties of south-central Oklahoma, Chickasaw Country is devoted to creating a destination enriched with culture, nature, recreation and entertainment. Across the region, a host of Chickasaw-owned hotels, spas, casinos, restaurants, shops and cultural attractions offer first-class customer service and modern amenities. Many, such as the Chickasaw Cultural Center, have earned their place on best of the best lists across the country. Chickasaw Country also produces a variety of events throughout the year that offer hands-on cultural activities and demonstrations such as stomp dances, stickball tournaments, beading workshops, archery lessons, lecture series, traditional games and storytelling.

 

Alaska Native Voices

Alaska Native Voices

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

Glacier Bay, the traditional homeland of the Huna Tlingit, is rich with human history, tradition and stories that continue to be passed on generation to generation. Huna Totem Corporation’s Alaska Native Voices program works to expand this tradition by sharing this connection to Glacier Bay through interpretation. Native Cultural Heritage Guides board cruise vessels visiting Glacier Bay and provide interpretive and educational programs which include lectures, storytelling, singing, personal interaction and displays of traditional art, tools and craftsmanship.

 

Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated

Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated

Excellence in Customer Service

Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation), known for its commitment to customer service, is tasked with preserving and perpetuating the heritage and culture of shareholders, while working toward a future where Indigenous people thrive. CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation’s mission is to promote the economic and social wellbeing and Alaskan Native heritage of their shareholders, now and into the future, through prudent stewardship of the company resource’s while furthering self- sufficiency among CIRI shareholders and their families.

 

Director's Awards

  • Diane Chalfant, Former Deputy Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park
  • Jana Prewitt, Former Director of External and Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the Secretary, Department of the Interior, and AIANTA Consultant
  • Vicki Dixon, Former Program Analyst, Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, Department of the Interior
  • John Echohawk, Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund (NARF)

2013-2014

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Tribal Destination of the Year

As the official cultural interpretive entity for the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center showcases the enduring art, history, dance and food of the first people of this region and through its museum, public programs, restaurant and gift shop, it provides a glimpse into the rich heritage of Pueblo life. For more than 40 years, it has served as a premiere visitor attraction for the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico.

 

The POEH Center

The POEH Center

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

The POEH Center, which serves as a resource for Pueblo traditions and teaching the arts, encompasses both traditional and vocational Artisans. The center’s mission is to support the future of Pueblo people by teaching the arts, collecting great works of arts, and promoting public understanding of Pueblo history and culture.

 

 

Standing Rock Tribal Tourism

Standing Rock Tribal Tourism

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

Involved early in the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial commemoration, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) also led successful efforts to establish the Native American Scenic Byway. The SRST Tribal Tourism Office invites visitors to the tribe’s “landscape of open prairies and beautiful rivers” and offers authentic tribal cultural experiences and historic tours.

Director's Awards

  • Bill Hardman, Southeast Tourism Society
  • Gail Adams, Former U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs
  • Jennifer Tambaugh, Tauck
  • Julia Washburn, Associate Director for Interpretation and Education, National Park Service
  • Martha Redbone, Singer/Songwriter/Artist
  • Sammye Meadows, Former AIANTA Public Lands Partnership Consultant
  • Tex G. Hall, Past Chairman, Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation; Past President, National Congress of the American Indian
  • Sandra Necessary, Former International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce

2012-2013

Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism

Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism

Tribal Destination of the Year

Dedicated to telling the story of the rich history of Cherokee people, Cherokee Nation offers various cultural sites and attractions that allow visitors to follow in the footsteps of historical Cherokees and walk the paths they traveled more than a century ago.  CNCT has created one of the most authentic and comprehensive tourism programs to preserve and protect Cherokee history and culture. This program has also been recognized by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department as one of top tourism organizations in Oklahoma.

 

Pyramid Lake, Paiute Tribe

Pyramid Lake, Paiute Tribe

Tribal Destination of the Year (Honorable Mention)

One of the largest natural lakes in the state of Nevada, Pyramid Lake provides visitors with world-class fishing, year-round recreation and more than 10,000 years of history and culture. In 2010 it was named “one of the Best Public Fisheries in the World” by Fly Fishing and Tying Journal. In 2012, the lake was voted by visitors as the “Nevada Treasure for the Indian Territory in the Discover Your Nevada contest.

 

Chickasaw Cultural Center

Chickasaw Cultural Center

Best Cultural Heritage Experience

After more than 20 years of dreaming and planning, the Chickasaw Cultural Center opened to serve as a cultural home and an embodiment of the Chickasaw legacy. Offering a Smithsonian-caliber experience, the world-class destination is dedicated to helping people of all ages and backgrounds share in and celebrate Chickasaw history and culture by telling a story of the individuals and families who have struggled, fought and thrived across generations to make Chickasaw the united and unconquerable people they are today.

 

Arizona Indian Festival

Arizona Indian Festival

Best Cultural Heritage Experience (Honorable Mention)

The Arizona Indian Festival showcases Arizona’s indigenous communities by creating an inclusive inter-tribal event celebrating culture, traditional arts, crafts and foods, as well as innovations and trends in cultural tourism experiences in Arizona. The festival features the 22 tribes of Arizona, which share their culture and traditions through dance, music and artwork.

 

 

 

Dawn Melvin, Arizona Department of Tourism

Dawn Melvin, Arizona Department of Tourism

Excellence in Customer Service

Dawn has been the Tribal Tourism Relations Manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) and the designated Tribal Tourism Liaison for the Governor’s Office for more than a decade. As a Tribal member and State of Arizona employee, Dawn has diligently provided consistent and excellent customer service. Her role has been pivotal to the success of Arizona’s collaborative efforts with Arizona’s 22 federally recognized.

 

 

NativeAmerica.Travel

NativeAmerica.travel is AIANTA’s premier destination website, connecting travelers to unique American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian destinations in the United States. Start marketing your destination with us today!

Learn Much More

Education & Training

Technical assistance and training is the heartbeat of our work at AIANTA. We provide general and tailored technical assistance, training and education in a variety of ways.

Learn More

International Outreach

AIANTA plays a critical role in supporting the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to bring more visitors to the United States, especially in our participation at trade shows internationally and domestically, to promote tourism in Indian Country.

Learn More

Membership

Through AIANTA membership, tribes, the tourism industry and other partners form a dynamic network of shared experiences, resources and support.

Learn More