First Americans Museum to Open in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Plains Region)
The much-anticipated First Americans Museum is scheduled to open September 18, 2021. The 175,000 square foot project tells the story of the 39 tribes in Oklahoma today. The museum features two long-term exhibitions assembled by the only all Native curatorial team in the world. The OKLA HOMMA exhibit shares the collective stories of the 39 Tribal Nations from their ancestral homelands to what is now Oklahoma. The second long-term exhibit is WINIKO: LIFE OF AN OBJECT which features approximately 140 objects on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Media contact: Ginny Underwood, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation Opens New Interpretive Center
New Town, North Dakota (Plains Region)
The Mandan Hidatasa Arikira Nation opened its new MHA Interpretive Center on May 19, 2021. The center, which is dedicated to telling the story of the MHA Nation through living history programs, includes an interactive culture kiosk, an outdoor, 500-seat amphitheater, a 250-seat event room and a classroom for educational programs.
Also on site, a recording studio will welcome elders and other tribal members who can share stories and language, which will be preserved for future generations. The Center also includes a coffee shop (named Black Water in Hidatsa) a new lunch spot and a state-of-the-art kitchen, where traditional meals are prepared. A gift shop features hand-crafted items from purses and totes to men’s, women’s and kids clothing, jewelry, and jams and jellies that are locally made. www.mhanation.com/interpretive-center
Oglala Lakota Living History Museum
Cactus Flats, South Dakota (Plains Region)
This summer, the Oglala Lakota Nation and their partners will open the Oglala Lakota Living History Village, an entry point to the beautiful landscape and the past and present culture and indigenous knowledge of Lakota Country. “Come hear our Lakota voices, our Lakota stories…told by our Lakota people. Learn to see the movement of the land, you’ll learn to understand the movement of the people.” Located at Cactus Flats, Exit 131 on Interstate 90, and then one mile south on South Dakota Highway 240. www.oglalalakotahistoryvillage.com/
Choctaw Nation Celebrates Culture in New Facility
Durant, Oklahoma (Plains Region)
The Choctaw Cultural Center will officially open its doors July 23. Exhibits include a four-part story about the history of the Choctaw tribe from ancestral times (circa 1250) to the present day in Oklahoma. An outdoor area includes a stickball field, living village and a traditional mound. The more than 100,000 square-foot facility houses two exhibit halls, an art gallery, auditorium, children’s area, classrooms, offices, gift shop and café. Press contact: Randy Sachs, Director of Public Relations, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, 580.924.8280 Ext: 5468
Oneida Nation Reveals “Harry Potter” Panels
Green Bay, Wisconsin (Midwest Region)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Oneida officials came up with the idea of creating “Harry Potter” style digital portraits to promote virtual tourism, but also provide visitors with interactive tours that aren’t face-to-face. The portraits feature tribal citizens acting in roles of their ancestors who played important parts of the two-century history of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin.
Media contact: Michelle Danforth-Anderson, Oneida Nation Director of Tourism and Marketing.
Three Chiefs Cultural Center Rebrands, Reopens
Pablo, Montana (Plains Region)
After closing its doors due to an arson-caused fire in September 2020, the former “The People’s Center” which is owned and operated by the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille Tribes, has re-opened to the public as the Three Chiefs Cultural Center,
Temporarily housed in a log building built several years ago for Col. Doug Allard’s first restaurant, the Center recently opened a partial display, including many of the artifacts that were recovered and restored after the fire. A temporary gift shop is also open to the public, as are periodic Three Chiefs Craft Circle events, featuring activities like bracelet making, mini tipi making and coloring for the kids.
When fully open, the Center, which showcases the rich cultural of the tribes, whose traditions and culture have been passed down orally from generation to generation, will provide expanded visitor experiences, including cultural activities, traditional arts and crafts, cultural education, native games, and other events reflecting the culture and heritage of the three tribes. Media contact: email@example.com
Cherokee Nation Breaks Ground on Durbin Feeling Language Center
Tahlequah, Oklahoma (Plains Region)
The future Durbin Feeling Language Center, is an historic project that will house all of the Cherokee Nation’s language programs under one roof for the first time. The new language center is named in honor of the late Durbin Feeling, Cherokee Nation’s single-largest contributor to the Cherokee language since Sequoyah. The Durbin Feeling Language Center will house the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, and the Cherokee Nation translation team, along with other programs and services offered through the Tribe’s language efforts.
Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza Breaks Ground, Set to Open 2022
Palm Springs, California (Pacific Region)
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has broken ground on the 5.8-acre Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza at the corner of E. Tahquitz Canyon Way and S. Indian Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs. The site will include a new museum that will celebrate the history, culture and modern times of the Tribe. The iconic intersection is home to the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, a 12,000-year-old water source that has been instrumental in shaping the Palm Springs area. The new cultural plaza will include The Spa at Séc-he which honors the tribe’s rich history as the guardian of this healing mineral water. The new spa will be the fifth bathhouse or spa at the site since the late 1880s. Also on site, an interpretive green belt, the Oasis Trail, which recreates the distinctive character, geology, flora and beauty of the nearby Indian Canyons, one of the ancestral homes of the Agua Caliente. Media contact: Kate Anderson, Director of Public Relations, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Native American Veterans Memorial
Washington DC (Eastern Region)
In response to a Congressional mandate, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has established the National Native American Veterans Memorial on the museum grounds on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Memorial, which opened to the public on Veterans Day 2020, is the first memorial of its kind to recognize on a national level the distinguished service of Native Americans in every branch of the U.S. military. The design concept–Warriors’ Circle of Honor–was created by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma) and selected from more than 120 submissions. Pratt, a veteran himself, served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1965 as a U.S. Marine in Air Rescue and Security stationed at Da Nang Air Base. americanindian.si.edu
Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum to Provide Context on Indian Boarding School Era
Carson City, Nevada (Southwest Region)
The Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum is launching a new exhibit in the Great Basin Native Artists Gallery. Contemporary Indigenous artists from Nevada’s Northern and Southern Paiute, Western Shoshone, and Washoe tribal nations display a collection of beadworks, from beaded goblets to cradleboards. This exhibition will be on display through Oct. 23. Artists include Stewart Alumni and members of the Great Basin Native Artists Collective. The works displayed in the exhibit include items from the cultural center’s permanent collection, donated pieces from the Native community, and print examples of Indigenous Great Basin artists premiering in top fashion magazines and art exhibits around the globe.
When fully open, the Center, which showcases the rich cultural of the tribes, whose traditions and culture have been passed down orally from generation to generation, will provide expanded visitor experiences, including cultural activities, traditional arts and crafts, cultural education, native games, and other events reflecting the culture and heritage of the three tribes. Media contact:
From 1890 through 1980, the Stewart Indian School served as the only off-reservation Indian boarding school in Nevada. Like many of its counterparts, the school forced Native American children to leave home, prohibiting them from speaking their languages and carrying out cultural practices, with the intent of “assimilating” them into non-Native culture. When the school closed in 1980, the State of Nevada occupied the school’s 110 acres and iconic stone buildings. For more information, contact Bobbi Rahder, Museum Director, at email@example.com or 775-687-7606.
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indian to Build New Cultural Center
Santa Ynez Valley, California ( Pacific Region)
Construction continues on the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ $32 million museum and cultural center. The 14,000-square-foot museum will serve as a monument dedicated to the Tribe’s heritage and history, while providing educational opportunities to visitors wanting to learn about the Chumash people and their culture, according to tribe officials. The cultural center is being developed by architect Johnpaul Jones, best known for their design of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. According to the Tribe, the museum should be complete later this year, and is expected to be one of the first LEED-certified tribal museums in the U.S. Media contact: PR@santaynezchumash.org
Redwood Yurok Canoe Tours
Klamath, California (Pacific Region)
California’s Yurok Tribe, whose ancestral home sits alongside the Klamath River and California’s famed Redwood forests will start the new Redwood Canoe Adventure Tour in 2021. Guests can learn about Yurok tribal culture while paddling down the river in a traditional redwood canoe. An experienced Yurok guide teaches guests about the culture of the tribe, the language and the ecosystem of the river. Eventually, the tribe plans for residents to open ancillary businesses, such as gift shops and related boat rides in nearby waterways. According to the Tribe, this is the only location in the world offering redwood canoe tours
Akwesasne Introduces Virtual Airbnb Experiences
Akwesasne, New York (Eastern Region)
In partnership with area artisans, Akwesasne Travel (the destination marketing arm for the Akwesasne Nation), is introducing new virtual experiences on Airbnb. The launch of the experiences is one element in Akwesasne’s business incubator program designed to help nurture artisans into growing their businesses. The experiences include:
Traditional Lacrosse Stick Making
Explore Mohawk Basketry With A Master
Carrie Hill of CHILL Baskets
Cornbread From A Mohawk Perspective
Living Culture with Mohawk Interpretation
Lorna & Mikayla; Native North American Travelling College.
Additionally, the experiences will pave the way for soon-to-be-announced in-person tours on the sovereign territory of Akwesasne. For more information visit akwesasne.travel
New Video Highlights Native-Caught Fresh Salmon (Pacific Region)
The Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), Oregon State University Extension Service and Oregon Sea Grant have released a new video showcasing how travelers can purchase fresh salmon from tribal vendors as the fish migrate upriver. The eight-minute video includes tips such as when each fish is in season, showing where fish are sold and more advice on purchasing, storing and preparing the fish.
“Tribal fishing at these sites continue[s] to be essential to the tribes’ sovereignty, culture and economy,” said Buck Jones, salmon marketing specialist with CRITFC. “Over-the-bank sales help tribal fishers support their families and make it possible to continue their traditional livelihood.” View more information at CRITFC’s Buying Salmon from Tribal Fishers guide.
Malama Hawaii Inspires Mindful Travel (Hawai’i)
Hawaii (Pacific Region)
Hospitality partners and volunteer organizations across Hawaii are inviting visitors to malama, or “take care of,” our earth, each other and ourselves. With activities ranging from reforestation and tree planting to self-directed beach cleanups to ocean reef preservation and even creating Hawaiian quilts, Hawaii visitors are encouraged to “give back” to the destination. By making a positive impact, visitors will not only enjoy a more enriching travel experience, and they might even enjoy a free extra night from participating hotels. www.gohawaii.com/malama
Red Cliff Fish Company Opens Public Market
With the opening of the Tribally-owned Red Cliff Fish Company in November 2020, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa can now buy fish directly from private tribal fishermen. Red Cliff Fish Company then sells this fresh whitefish, lake herring, lake trout and walleye to both wholesalers as well as directly to the general public through its fish market. Red Cliff Band fishermen dock and unload at the facility where the fish is processed and ready for the plate within hours. A gift shop next to the fish market sells Red Cliff Fish Company t-shirts and hats. redclifffish.com
Learn more about Red Cliff at www.redcliff-nsn.gov
Fort Washakie School Launches ‘Explore the Wind River Reservation’ Mobile Tour
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (Plains Region)
The Wind River Indian Reservation launched the first of a two-part Explore the Wind River Reservation mobile audio tour on August 20, 2020. The self-guided tour was written by students of the Fort Washakie High School, in partnership with the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and Wind River Visitors Council.
For visitors traveling along US Highway 287 through the Fremont County, the Wind River Indian Reservation or contemplating a trip to Yellowstone or Grand Teton National parks, the audio tour features student-produced interviews and stories of the vast 2.2-million-acre Wind River Indian Reservation, mixing fascinating stories of the people with interpretation of the native cultures and key sites to visit.
Part One leads travelers to the historic town of Fort Washakie and the grave site of Sacajawea, the revered Shoshone guide, who guided the Lewis and Clark Expedition with her extensive knowledge of the rugged region and her language skills. Visitors can also explore the Wind River Trading Company with historical exhibits and learn about Wyoming’s largest Indian powwow and traditional celebration held in June.
The second part of the tour will loop east and highlight the Northern Arapaho people, and the historical sights along the eastern portion of the reservation. Using GPS technology, the free Explore The Wind River Reservation audio tour reaches travelers hands-free on their mobile devices, which once downloaded, is accessible without cell service. https://windriver.org
Artpark in Partnership with Kakekalanicks Consulting Introduces Indigenous Walking Tour Along the Niagara River
Artpark & Company, a cultural institution located on the Niagara Gorge, has introduced an indigenous-themed audio walking tour, Her Moccasins Talk: Honoring all our Relations, as a part of its Sonic Trails mobile app program. Defined as an “Indigenous journey exploring the Natural World with gratitude,” the walking tour is produced in partnership with Indigenous bridge builder Michele-Elise Burnett, who owns Kakekalanicks Consulting. Curated by Burnett as well as local First Nations knowledge keepers, storytellers, and singers who “take visitors through a mindful journey accompanied by songs, sounds and effects all based upon giving thanks to ancestors.” The path follows the Niagara River and allows guests to experience the landscape from an Indigenous lens and embrace being one with the Natural World.
Artpark is also bringing back its Strawberry Moon Festival (after a year’s hiatus),. Scheduled for June 19, 2021, the festival celebrates the indigenous cultures of the Niagara region through storytelling, music, dance, and arts & crafts. Much of the festival takes places on or around Artpark’s new Native American Peace Garden which was introduced in August 2020. Designed in the sacred shape of the Turtle, the garden was conceptualized by tour curator Michele-Elise Burnett and brought to life by a Native team from the Tuscarora reservation made up of Bryan Printup, Rene Rickard, Vince Schiffert and Violet Printup.
Holland America Line to Resume Alaska Cruises
Following passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, work with Alaska government officials and recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Holland America has announced plans to restart cruising to Alaska starting in July 2021. The cruises will sail from Seattle, Washington, aboard Nieuw Amsterdam and include a stop at Icy Strait Point. Icy Strait Point is a popular cruise destination that is only open when a ship is in port. It is also home to Hoonah, the largest Tlingit community in Alaska. icystraitpoint.com
We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort Debuts Spectacular New Facility
Fort McDowell (Scottsdale), Arizona (Southwest Region)
Owned and operated by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the stunning new 166,341-square-foot We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort boasts state-of-the-art gaming, a variety of specialty fine and casual dining restaurants, Native American design elements, live entertainment, and other attributes designed to maximize the comfort, safety and enjoyment of all who visit the casino and stay at the adjacent 246-room AAA Four Diamond hotel. The sophisticated new casino opened in October 2020, replacing the original Fort McDowell Casino.
The Saguaro course at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club was named #4 in Golf Magazine’s Best Arizona Golf Courses in 2020, while the Cholla course ranked #7 in Golfweek’s Best: State-by-State Courses. Media contact: Gail Manginelli, GM & Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel Reopens
Lander, Wyoming (Plains Region)
The Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel held a weekend-long Grand Reopening celebration, starting May 6. The reopening commenced with a prayer by Shoshone traditional leader Arlen Shoyo, while SBC Chairman John St. Clair announced a welcome to visitors. The hotel’s snack bar has also re-opened to the public with an all new menu. The restaurant, Deka-Guy Hee, it will re-open at a future date. The Rose now employs about 100 people, with about half being former employees.
The Cove at Sylvan Beach, Indian Oneida Nation
Sylvan Beach, New York (Eastern Region)
The Oneida Indian Nation is planning to open an all-new hospitality and recreational tourism destination. The Cove at Sylvan Beach is scheduled to open in summer 2022. The brand new development will feature 70 two-and three-bedroom cottages, each with a dedicated pontoon or boat deck and slip. Other amenities include fire-pits, gas grills, and an on-site store, Sylvan Beach Supply Co.
San Manuel Casino “Tops Off” Major Expansion, Including New Luxury Resort
Highland, California (Pacific Region)
San Manuel Casino has recently celebrated a topping-off ceremony for its massive multi-year expansion. The development includes an expanded gaming space, 24-hour restaurant, a high-end dining venue and three new retail shops, all scheduled to open in summer 2021. A new, 432-room luxury resort, already being touted as one of the “Most-Anticipated Hotel Openings of 2021” by Forbes Travel Guide, is expected to open in December 2021. New food and beverage options, a full-service spa and a pool deck with private cabanas should also open by the end of the year. Finally, a new event venue is expected to open sometime in 2022. When complete, the project is expected to add more than 2,000 new team members to the current staff of 4,500. www.sanmanuel.com
San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality to Acquire The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada (Southwest Region)
The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority have announced an agreement for a subsidiary of SMGHA to acquire the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada from Red Rock Resorts, Inc. The transaction is expected to close later in 2021, subject to regulatory approvals
The Palms, which has been closed for more than a year, is located just west of I-15 near the Las Vegas Strip, and includes a casino, approximately 700 hotel rooms and suites, multiple casual and upscale dining options, meeting and convention space, a 2,500-seat theater, pool and spa, other amenities and Palms Place condominiums.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (Eastern Region)
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are partnering with DreamCatcher Hotels to develop a high-end hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The property features 12,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, a rooftop restaurant and lounge, and 200 guest rooms. The hotel site is strategically located within the heart of dining, shopping and excursion options while also sitting adjacent to the Leconte Center and the Cal Ripken Baseball/Softball Experience. The property is expected to open in the summer of 2023.
For more information and updates, visit our AIANTA Members in the News page.
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