Nominate Your Favorite Tribal Destination for AIANTA’s Annual Awards Today


When we travel, there are certain people we meet, destinations we visit and experiences we have that change our entire outlook on travel, evoke feelings of awe and make us want to go back again, and again.

Working in the tourism industry, we know it’s these special people and places that make all the difference – in encouraging repeat visits, garnering positive word of mouth marketing, and in creating an overall genuine, fun and meaningful experience for guests.

Each year, AIANTA, as the national organization representing the tribal hospitality and tourism industry, recognizes these champions in authentic Indian Country tourism, honoring the best of Native American travel and tourism with our annual destination awards.

Last year, in 2016, the destination awards went to the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder’s Tina Whitegeese for Excellence in Customer Service; Puye Cliffs in New Mexico for Best Cultural Heritage Experience; and Icy Strait Point in Alaska took home Tribal Destination of the Year.

Have you visited Indian Country recently with an experience that you feel needs to be recognized? We encourage all our members at AIANTA to nominate your favorite destination, experience or individual in Native America! Nominations must be made no later than July 14, 2017 – so get yours in today.

The 2017 awardees will be announced during the 19th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference on September 13, 2017 at the Enough Good People Awards Gala in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This year’s awards banquet is sponsored by the Tulalip Tribes, and we hope to see you all there!

For more information about the awards, and to make a nomination, click here.

For more information about the 19th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference, and to register now, click here

Want to learn more about each award and last year’s winners? Read on below!

The Excellence in Customer Service Award honors an individual who has provided consistent, excellent customer service during their tenure of employment or a business with a commitment to creating and providing a culture of service.

Tina Whitegeese is a member of the Pueblo of Pojoaque and shared in the stewardship of the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder. At the time of the award, she was an integral member of the Hilton team working with the Pueblo owner to advance tourism. Tina has deep pride in helping interested travelers to Northern New Mexico learn more about her culture. She currently is the Tribal Tourism and Business Manager for the Poeh Center owned by Pojoaque Pueblo.


The Cultural Heritage Experience Award honors that which demonstrates authentic art, craft, food, dance, performance, demonstrations, etc. representative of a tribe or tribes.

Puye Cliff Dwellings (Puye) provides a look into the life and culture of the Santa Clara Pueblo by providing guided tours of their ancestral grounds. They have introduced to the world, their traditional dances and art of the Tewa people by educating the public of the ways of our pueblo people. Puye offers an insight to their culture by demonstrating their cultural dances and their traditional bread making techniques.


And finally, the Tribal Destination of the Year honors a destination which encompasses the following: excellent customer service, visitor friendly destination, authentic cultural heritage experience(s), and amenities for visitors.

Icy Strait Point (ISP) is Alaska’s only privately owned cruise ship destination and located in the Native Village of Hoonah. Owned by the ANCSA Village Corporation (Huna Totem), staffed by 85% local tribal members, employs 20% of local population and provides the community with not only employment opportunities and directed funds, but entrepreneurship opportunities, sales tax, and head tax. Twenty (+) tours offered, include: Tribal Dance, Wilderness/Wildlife Discovery, World’s Longest Zipline, plus restaurants, retail, and historic landmarks. Each guest receives a one-of-a-kind experience infused with local Native culture and hospitality.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Native American Agriculture Fund

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Bureau of Land Management

National Endowment of the Arts

National Park Service

United States Forest Service