Inclusion of Indigenous Tourism Along the California National Historic Trail:
Training Workshop at the California Trail Center, Elko, Nevada

May 22, 2024; 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Pacific)

Thousands of travelers travel through Nevada along the California National Historic Trail each year to learn about this historic route. As part of their mission “to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values,” the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management to share stories of the Tribes along the Trail. The many other partnerships involved in this program include the National Park Service Dark Skies Program, Leave No Trace, Nevada’s Indian Territory, Oregon California Trail Association, the California Trail Heritage Alliance, Nevada Arts Council, Patagonia, Travel Nevada and the Carson City Culture & Tourism Authority.

AIANTA has developed this training to support cultural tourism development along the California Trail specific to the Nevada Tribes. The training will focus on access points to building out cultural tourism product with instruction on visitor tools developed by Leave No Trace. We also intend to provide training support on itinerary building with Nevada’s Indian Territory, how to build your arts and agritourism programming presented by AIANTA staff and tools and information on Dark Sky program development and tools.

Learn more about this exciting effort to tell the story of Nevada’s Tribes along this historic trail.

For more information, contact:
Bruce Rettig, AIANTA Partner Program Coordinator
(530) 412-1945 or

Lunch is on your own – click here to explore some great dining options in the area!  

Schedule of Events

Sherry L. Rupert (Paiute/Washoe) – Chief Executive Officer, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association

Sherry L. Rupert, Paiute and Washoe Tribes of Nevada, is the CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) with two decades of executive-level experience managing and promoting Indigenous tourism. She has dedicated her career to advancing cultural heritage storytelling for Native Nations and communities across the U.S. by helping these communities realize the economic development potential and significance of preserving generational stories well into the future.

Ben Rupert, (Shoshone Paiute/Washoe) – Treasurer, Nevada’s Indian Territory
Ben is of Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute and Washoe descent. Ben is part of the Nevada’s Indian Territory leadership team, a marketing arm of the Nevada Commission on Tourism. He has been the lead on Nevada’s Indian Territory destination development of the Great Basin tribal communities. He is a Native dancer and traditional artist. His passion is to share his Native culture through cultural presentations, dancing, fishing, hunting, traditional art, and being a steward of the Great Basin culture. Ben graduated from Oregon State University and recently received a Masters in Sustainable Tourism from Arizona State University.

Gina Pearson – Environmental Protection Specialist, National Park Service
Gina works for the National Park Service in the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. This is a Washington Office program based out of Ft. Collins, CO. She currently serves as an Environmental Protection Specialist working on project planning and environmental compliance. She also is the Division’s web manager and is actively engaged in education and outreach efforts with various partners, such as AIANTA, Leave No Trace, and Dark Sky Cooperatives. Her background is varied and extensive having worked for the USFS, NPS and BLM throughout her career that began in 1985 as a seasonal ranger at Yellowstone National Park. She has worked in many parks and protected areas throughout the western U.S. as a Natural Resource Specialist, Interpretive Ranger, LNT Master Educator, Outdoor Recreation Manager, and Planning and Compliance Specialist. Gina received a B.S. in Natural Resource Recreation Management and Planning from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and has a Graduate Certificate in NEPA from Utah State University. She particular enjoys working with Latin American and Indigenous communities to ensure their perspective and needs are considered in recreation management and planning efforts.

Brice Esplin – Director of Sustainable Tourism and Partnerships, Leave No Trace
Brice develops a community-wide approach to environmental education by aligning stakeholders with tailored Leave No Trace messaging through long-term mutually beneficial relationships. His dual degrees in Psychology and Communications ensure that Leave No Trace has a deep understanding of human behavior and can work with high-profile tourist destinations to develop comprehensive education campaigns. Brice is a technophile and is always employing systems that improve organizational efficiency and add a level of digital expertise to our partnerships.

Cheryl Miller – Supervisory Park Ranger, California Trail Interpretive Center, Bureau of Land Management
Cheryl currently serves as a Supervisory Park Ranger for the Bureau of Land Management in Elko, NV at the California Trail Center.  Before this she spent four seasons working as a seasonal Park Ranger with the National Park Service in locations such as Voyageurs and Acadia National Parks.  She became an LNT Trainer through a course she attended at Northern Arizona University in 2005.​

Kelli Hepler – Agritourism Specialist, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
Kelli Hepler, a Colorado-based agritourism developer and marketing consultant, brings 35 years of experience in tourism. For two decades, Kelli has been a driving force in agritourism, creating award-winning programs for businesses in this field. In her two years with AIANTA, she has focused on developing Native Agritourism programs. These initiatives aim to connect guests with the land and its food through educational tours. Kelli’s focus also includes linking culinary experiences with culture and promoting food sovereignty for Tribal Enterprises.

Bruce Rettig – Partner Program Coordinator, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association 
Bruce is AIANTA’s Partner Program Coordinator and is charged with scoping out exciting tribal tourism destinations throughout and adding them to He has worked with the Nevada’s Duck Valley Shoshone Paiute Tribe, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Ely Shoshone Tribe, Washoe Tribe of California & Nevada, Stewart Indian School, the Nevada Indian Commission and Nevada’s Indian Territory. Bruce is also a published author ( and his memoir, “Refraction: An Arctic Memoir,” won awards in the categories of travel memoir, and ecology and environment.