About the NATIVE Act

A brief history and overview of Public Law 114-221, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act.

The Native Act | Purposes of the Act | The Importance of Tourism | Timeline



The Native American Tourism & Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, or Public Law 114-221, serves to establish a more inclusive national travel and tourism strategy and has the potential to deliver significant benefits for tribes, including jobs creation, elevated living standards and expanded economic opportunities.


AIANTA’s Goals

To empower Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations to participate fully in the tourism industry, if they so choose, through the coordination of technical assistance.


Purposes of the Act

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act’’ or the ‘‘NATIVE Act’’.


The purposes of this Act are—

  • To enhance and integrate Native American tourism—

(A) to empower Native American communities; and

(B) to advance the National Travel and Tourism Strategy;

  • To increase coordination and collaboration between Federal tourism assets to support Native American tourism and bolster recreational travel and tourism;
  • To expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States to spur economic development, create jobs, and increase tourism revenues;
  • To enhance and improve self-determination and self-governance capabilities in the Native American community and to promote greater self-sufficiency;
  • To encourage Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations to engage more fully in Native American tourism activities to increase visitation to rural and remote areas in the United States that are too difficult to access or are unknown to domestic travelers and international tourists;
  • To provide grants, loans, and technical assistance to Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations that will—

(A) spur important infrastructure development;

(B) increase tourism capacity; and

(C) elevate living standards in Native American communities; and

  • To support the development of technologically innovative projects that will incorporate recreational travel and tourism information and data from Federal assets to improve the visitor experience.

The Importance of Travel & Tourism

“Travel is an engine for economic and job growth, and it helps communities maintain a level of service that would require more taxes, had it not been for travel-generated tax revenue.

Just a one or two percent decline in travel spending can disrupt a state’s economy at every level—not just jobs at hotels, attractions and restaurants, but also the income generated to pay for public services like police, firefighters and school teachers.”

—Roger Dow
President & CEO
U.S. Travel Association

Why Tourism

  • Tourism empowers cultural perpetuation. When Native Americans tell their own stories, they define the scope of tourism activities on tribal lands, indigenous homelands and in Native communities throughout the U.S.
  • Distinctive cultural experiences can deliver travelers to rural and remote areas.
  • The growth of a sustained tourism industry can strengthen self determination and selfgovernance capabilities and promote greater self-sufficiency.
  • Financial benefits from tourism can enhance the ability of Native communities to protect their cultural resources and preserve natural landscapes.
  • The indirect economic benefits of tourism spill over into a variety of industries, including farming and food production; traditional and modern forms of visual art, drama, music and dance; infrastructure construction and public works; ecosystem management and the preservation of wildlife and plant species; emerging technologies; communications, branding and sales; and many others.

Learn more about the Economic Impact of Indian Country Tourism.


NATIVE Act Timeline

Through the persuasive efforts of U.S. tribes, tribal organizations and the tourism industry, the United States Senate and House of Representatives voted to enact the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act.


First introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in 2015, the NATIVE Act gained widespread bi-partisan support before being signed into law in 2016.


On September 18, 2018, at the 20th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference, Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior; Mike Platt, then Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Commerce and Camille Ferguson, Executive Director of AIANTA, signed a Memorandum of Understanding naming AIANTA as a national facilitator to carry out provisions of the NATIVE Act.


AIANTA is designated a coordinating partner, and charged with fulfillment of section 4353(d) of the Act, which calls for an “organization or entity to serve as a facilitator between the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce and the Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations” in order to “identify areas where technical assistance is needed through consultations” and to “provide a means for the delivery of technical assistance…”

Sponsors of the NATIVE Act

  • Introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
  • Co-sponsors: Senators John Thune (R-SD), Dean Heller (R-NV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tom Udall (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
  • In the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced by Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
  • Co-sponsors: Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV), Don Young (R-AK), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Tom Cole (R-OK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Jared Huffman (D-CA).

Supporters of the NATIVE Act (National Organizations)

  • U.S. Travel Association
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Native American Enterprise Initiative (NAEI)
  • American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA)
  • National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

Supporters of the NATIVE Act (Regional and Statewide Organizations)

  • Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI)
  • Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN)
  • All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG)
  • Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP)
  • Coalition of Large Land Based Tribes (COLT)
  • Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA)
  • Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma (ITC)
  • Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada (ITCN)
  • Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission
  • Native American Tribes of Wisconsin (NATOW)
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA)
  • Southeast Tourism Society (STS)
  • Western States Tourism Policy Council (WSTPC)

Supporters of the NATIVE Act (Tribal and Alaska Village Governments)

  • Chickaloon Native Village of Alaska
  • Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
  • Native Village of Kasaan Alaska
  • Sitka Tribe of Alaska
  • Nez Perce Tribe


Download a PDF version of About the NATIVE Act here.



For nearly two decades, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has served as the national voice for American Indian nations engaged in cultural tourism. In addition, AIANTA provides technical assistance, training and capacity building to Tribal nations and Native-owned enterprises engaged in tourism, hospitality and recreation. AIANTA is supported by a combination of public and private funding, as well as a robust membership program.

AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values 

To learn more about AIANTA or to join us in helping elevate economies through cultural tourism, please visit www.aianta.org, call 505.724.3592 or email info@aianta.org.