Parks & Public Lands

Yurok Tribe Receives UN Equator Prize for Forest Management
The Yurok Tribe has become one of the first two indigenous nations in the United States to receive the United Nations Development Programme’s prestigious Equator Prize. “We are incredibly honored to accept the Equator Prize on behalf of the Yurok people,” said Yurok Tribal Councilmember Lana McCovey. “Similar to Tribal nations all over the globe, our culture, quality of life, and economy require intact forests to flourish.” The Equator Prize, created by the UNDP’s Equator Initiative, aims to acknowledge efforts to reduce poverty through environmentally sound projects, and recognizes the Tribe’s forward-looking, climate change mitigation work, which merges Traditional Ecological Knowledge with western science to facilitate the restoration of healthy forests.. Residing along the Klamath River in far Northern California, the Yurok Tribe is the most populous Native American nation in the state. Media contact: Lidna Cooley, Deputy Director, Yurok Economic Development; (707) 457-7000.

Photo credit: Jacob Byk, National Wildlife Federation

Wind River Reservation Bison Welcomes Five New Bison as Part of First Tribal Government-to-Tribal Government Bison Transfer
Five genetically-pure, male bison have been added to the Wind River Reservation herd, bringing the herd size to 33 bison. The five bison, the offspring of more than 200 Yellowstone bison previously transferred to the Fort Peck Reservation in 2012 and 2014, make up the third release on Wind River since November 2016. This unique release program is part of a 2015 agreement between the Eastern Shoshone and Fort Peck Tribes to engage in a bison trade network with the goal of conserving the ecological and cultural importance of the species, and is the first tribal government-to-tribal government bison transfer, and was facilitated by the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Partnerships Program.

“This release is the culmination of years of hard work, and the agreement between the Eastern Shoshone and Fort Peck Tribes to share buffalo is indicative of the importance of this animal to our tribal communities,” said Jason Baldes, the Shoshone Buffalo Representative and bison coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. “Restoring buffalo to the Wind River Reservation not only revitalizes the landscape and brings wildlife diversity, but rebuilds our tribe’s cultural and historical connections to the land. We are ‘buffalo people,’ and our ancestors are smiling upon us as we bring our people and the buffalo together once again.”

Media contact(s): Alejandra Silva, Public Relations Director, Eastern Shoshone Tribe; 307.332.3532;; Cait Shaughnessy, Communications Coordinator; Rocky Mountain Regional Center, NWF; 303.441.5167; More info: National Wildlife Federation Press Release; View Photos in the Casper Star-Tribune

Cultural Centers & Museums

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Launches $41 Million Cultural Center
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community unveiled it’s new $41 million cultural center, Hocokata Ti (pronounced Ho-cho-kah-tah-tee) earlier this summer.  Hocokata Ti, which means “the lodge at the center of the camp, will promote Mdewakanton Dakota history, culture and heritage, in stunning indoor and outdoor eshibits. Among them, seven 40-foot high tipis are located adjacent to the main building. Media contact: Jennifer Hellman, Goff Public; 651.292.8062.

Cherokee Nation Opens New Cherokee National History Museum
Tahlequah, Oklahoma (Plains Region)
In August, Cherokee Nation hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of the Cherokee National History Museum, the newest addition to the Tribe’s tourism offerings. The museum, located within the iconic Cherokee National Capitol building, shares the history and culture of the Cherokee Nation from pre-European contact through the Trail of Tears and the revitalization of the tribe after the American Civil War. On display are artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, Gilcrease Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society and Cherokee National Archives.

Originally built in 1869 on the main town square of Tahlequah, the Cherokee National Capitol building housed the tribe’s executive, legislative and judicial offices until 1906, and was most recently home to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court until fall 2018. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated a National Landmark. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Media contact: Whitney Dittman, Public Relations Specialist, Cherokee Nation Businesses;

Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center Receives “Outstanding Project” Award
The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center has received the International Guardians of Culture and Lifeways “Outstanding Project” Award from the Association of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums (ATALM) for the Tribe’s Pottery Project and Exhibit From Ancient Hands: Stories in Fire and Clay. The STEAM-based exhibit encourages visitors to learn by interacting. A guilloche drawing activity helps visitors learn the art of Fort Ancient pottery, after which they can incise their own design on scratch paper and share it in the exhibit space or take it with them. Exploring the science of pottery, participants can use an easy-view microscope to compare pottery from around the world and complete a material science exercise. Since pots were often used for cooking, visitors can take or leave traditional recipes for food that might be cooked in a pot. Short videos about the life cycle of mussel shells and corn enhance the display.

“The pottery project participants spent years experimenting with clay, temper, construction techniques and firing methods,” said Second Chief Ben Barnes. “We formulated new hypotheses about how pots were made, challenging long-held assertions by non-tribal researchers. We had the pottery we made from our studies, but the exhibit was pulled together by our director, Marnie Leist, who curated and designed the exhibit, collaborating with the community. We obtained loans from Ohio History Connection, Webb Museum of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, and University of Missouri Research Reactor Center, which allows our citizens to see these ancestral pieces.” Media Contact: Marnie Leist, Nanahikiye’mota Director, Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center;

Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum to Provide Context on Indian Boarding School Era
Carson City, Nevada (Southwest Region)
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. In 2015, the Nevada Governor and Legislature appropriated state funding to create the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum and Welcome Center to interpret the 90-year history. This new museum is slated to open in fall 2019 and is dedicated to the memories of the first Stewart students from Great Basin tribes in 1890, and all students and their families who were impacted by the Stewart experience. The compelling history of Stewart will also be shared in educational activities, lectures, programs, and conferences as well as Volunteer, Docent, and Intern Programs. For more information, contact Bobbi Rahder, Museum Director, at or 775-687-7606, or visit the website at

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum Breaks Ground, Set to Open 2020
Palm Springs, California (Pacific Region)
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has broken ground on the 5.8-acre Agua Caliente Cultural Museum at the corner of E. Tahquitz Canyon Way and S. Indian Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs. The new museum 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 center will include the Agua Caliente Spa & Bathhouse 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, 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,

Choctaw Nation to Celebrate Culture in New Facility
Durant, Oklahoma (Plains Region)
The Choctaw Nation recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Choctaw Nation Cultural Center, which is slated to open in 2020. The 98,000 square foot facility will house two exhibit halls, an art gallery, auditorium, children’s area, classrooms, offices, gift shop and café. Exhibits will include a four-part story about the history of the Choctaw tribe from ancestral times (circa 1250) to the present day in Oklahoma. A Temporary Exhibit Hall is also planned for traveling exhibits, community exhibits and other special events. An outdoor area will include a stickball field, living village and a traditional mound. Press contact (s): Katy Pickens, Director of Public Relations, Choctaw Nation Tribal Services;; (580) 924-8280 x4340; and Kristina Humenesky, Director of Public Relations, Choctaw Nation Division of Commerce,, (580) 924-8280 x4712.

American Indian Cultural Center & Museum to Open in 2021 in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Plains Region)
Officials have confirmed that the on-hold American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) is now back on track. Construction is expected to begin in January with a scheduled opening date for spring 2021. The $65 million project, which will tell the story of the 39 tribes in Oklahoma will borrow about 120 objects—that once belonged to Oklahoma tribal members—from the Smithsonian. Oher items will come from private collections. Media contact: Shoshana Wasserman, Associate Director, American Indian Cultural Center Foundation, (405) 239.5503,

Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center Opens Multi-Million Dollar Cultural Center
With a mission of telling the story of the Shawnee past and present, the Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center opened in November 2018, in Miami, Oklahoma. The $2 million, 6,000-square-foot-facility was built to resemble a longhouse structure, with a fire pit near the entrance, to resemble ceremonial grounds. For the first exhibit, the tribe partnered with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, the Ohio History Connection, the University of Missouri and community members to tell the story of the tribe’s exploration of ancestral pottery. The center features interactive programs, exhibits, and a store with native artwork. Media Contact: Marnie Leist, Nanahikiye’mota Director, Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center;

Forest County Potawatomi Community Breaks Ground on New Community and Recreation Center
The Forest County Potawatomi Community broke ground on its new $60 million community and recreation center in May. Located in Crandon, Wisconsin, the new center, the largest development project in Forest County history, will include a 20,000 square-foot gym, a pool, a fitness center, a weight room. It is also expected to provide a space for community gatherings. The center has an anticipated opening date in fall 2021.

“The Forest County Potawatomi is blessed with the opportunity to provide this new space for our people to celebrate their culture and strive towards a brighter future,” said FCPC Tribal Chairman Ned Daniels, Jr. “The new facility will serve as a gathering place for our community, offering athletic and educational programs for tribal members and employees of all ages.” Media contact: Forest County Potawatomi Community News Center,

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indian To Build New Cultural Center
Santa Barbara, California (Pacific Region)
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians are looking to construct a 14,000 square foot cultural center in Santa Ynez (near Santa Barbara). The $32 million dollar project is being developed by architect is 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 in about two years, and is expected to be one of the first LEED-certified tribal museums in the U.S. Media contact:

Two Tribal Libraries Earn 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service
The Barona Band Mission Indians Cultural Center and Museum (Lakeside, California), and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Library (Sequim, Washington) have received the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The award, bestowed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is the nation’s highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Also nominated, although not selected as a top ten honoree, was the Aaniiih Nakoda College Library (Harlem, Montana), a tribal college located on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Press contact: Elizabeth Holtan, Communications, 202-653-4630,

Seneca Nation of Indians Opens New National Museum; to Erect First New Longhouse Since 1820
Salamanca, New York (Eastern Region)
In September 2018, the Seneca Nation of Indians opened the new Seneca-Iroquois National Museum. The $18 million, 33,000 square-foot facility chronicles the history of the Seneca and other Native American tribes, while also looking forward to the future. The museum, which replaces the original Seneca-Iroquois National Museum built in 1977, will also feature a 600-seat auditorium that will offer lectures, cultural presentations and concerts. Outside, a massive new Longhouse, which is expected to open Spring 2018, is the first Seneca Longhouse to be built since 1820. It too will offer cultural events and activities. Media contact: PR/External Relations,

Pine Ridge Reservation Breaks Ground on Artspace Facility
Kyle, South Dakota (Plains Region)
On September 27, 2018, the Oglala Dakota tribe held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Oglala Lakota Artspace, the first-ever Arts Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The $2.5 million facility, a partnership between Artspace, First Peoples Fund (a Native American 501c3 non-profit organization) and Lakota Funds (a Native CDFI organization on Pine Ridge) will serve as a hub connecting arts and cultural activities across the geographically vast reservation (which is roughly the size of Connecticut.) When it opens, it will provide workspaces, classrooms and marketplace access for area artists, while also serving as a link between other tribes and cultural institutions in Western South Dakota.

Exhibitions & Openings

Sealaska Heritage Institute Unveils New Exhibit on Celebrated Tlingit Artist Nathan Jackson
In early April 2019, Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) unveiled a new exhibit celebrating the work of Tlingit master artist Nathan Jackson, one of the most renowned and internationally recognized Tlingit artists of his generation. The exhibit, Yéil Yádi—Raven Child: A Nathan Jackson Retrospective, spans Jackson’s career from his earliest productions in the early 1950s to his most recent works. Jackson, the leader of the Lukaax.ádi clan is highly esteemed in the Native community for his mastery of Northwest Coast art and for his willingness to teach the art form to younger generations. He was recognized as a master traditional artist in 1995 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor in traditional arts. The exhibit runs through Oct. 15, 2019. Media Contact: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Section 14: The Other Palm Springs; National Museum of the American Indian (DC)
Feb. 7, 2019–Jan. 2020; Washington, D.C. (Eastern Region)
Section 14: The Other Palm Springs” exposes a land battle at the core of the conflict between Western expansion and Indigenous peoples. A one-square-mile tract in downtown Palm Springs, California, Section 14 forms the heart of the reservation belonging to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. As the city evolved from a desert outpost to a playground of the rich and famous, Section 14 became more desirable to developers. Between the 1940s and 1960s, competing interests vied for this valuable land. It became a battleground over issues of tribal sovereignty, land zoning, leasing, economics, and race. “Section 14: The Other Palm Springs” was produced by the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. Media contacts: Eileen Maxwell,, Smithsonian Institution; Lisa Austin,, Smithsonian Institution.

Stretching Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting, National Museum of the American Indian (NY)
Fall 2019/Winter 2020; New York, NY (Plains Region)
Since 1940, many Native artists have pushed, pressed and expanded beyond narrow, market-driven definitions of American Indian art. Drawing from the National Museum of the American Indian’s rich permanent collection, “Stretching Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting” presents more than 40 diverse, exciting paintings that transcend, represent or subvert conventional ideas of authenticity. Media contacts: Eileen Maxwell,, Smithsonian Institution; Lisa Austin,, Smithsonian Institution.

Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery at the Southwest Museum of the American Indian
Ongoing; Los Angeles, California (Pacific Region)
Featuring more than 100 pieces of rare ceramics from the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, this Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery exhibition traces the dramatic changes that transformed the Pueblo pottery tradition in the era following sixteenth-century Spanish colonization to the present. Organized by Pueblo language groups, the show includes pieces by such well-known potters as Maria and Julian Martinez (Pueblo of San Ildefonso), Nampeyo (Hopi) and her descendants, Juan Cruz Roybal (Pueblo of San Ildefonso) and Tonita Peña Roybal (Pueblo of San Ildefonso), Gladys Paquin (Pueblo of Laguna) and many others. Media contact: Keisha Raines, Communications Manager, Autry Museum of the American West/Southwest Museum of the American Indian,

Tours, Cruises & Attractions

Cunard Partners With Alaska Native Voices on New Insights Program
Inside Passage, Alaska (Alaska Region)
Alaska Native Voices along with members of the Huna Tlingit tribe, a group native to Glacier Bay and Icy Strait Point, will offer lectures and workshops about their history, culture, and storytelling on board all Cunard Line’s 2019 Alaska voyages. Passengers will learn about Alaska’s indigenous people at an information center hosted by cultural heritage guides onboard Queen Elizabeth. Media contact: Mario Fulmer, Visitor Programs Manager, Alaska Native Voices;

Hotels, Resorts & Other Accommodation

Quapaw Nation Breaks Ground on $350M Luxury Casino Resort and Joins New Era of Economic Revitalization in Pine Bluff
Pine Bluff, Arkansas (Plains Region)

In early August, the Quapaw Nation hosted a groundbreaking celebration for the new Saracen Casino Resort, the Nation’s first community development endeavor in Arkansas. More than a casino, the resort will boast a 300-room luxury hotel with restaurants and lounges, a spa, conference center, and museum and cultural center. The resort will also include a learning center, daycare, as well as a health clinic, and safety/fire and emergency medical services facilities. In total, the development is expected to create 1,100 jobs. The casino is scheduled for a June 2020 opening, with the hotel and entertainment venue opening in December 2020.

“Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Nation is honored to have been selected to bring this outstanding facility to the area. Today marks the beginning of the Quapaw Nation’s return to Pine Bluff, and we are excited to be a key part of the continuing revitalization of the city,” said. Quapaw Nation Chairman John L. Berrey

The tribe also recently opened the Saracen Q-Store, a 20,000-square foot convenience store and gas station, which is open to the public 24/7. Media contact: Sean Harrison, Quapaw Nation.


Lummi Nation to Purchase Loomis Trail Golf Course in Blaine
Ferndale, Washington (Pacific Region)

The Lummi Nation has purchased the Loomis Trail Golf Course, considered the “crown jewel” of the Washington golfing community.

“This is much more than a golf course. Loomis Trail land holding is within our St’l’elnep our ancient ground or village,” said Lummi Chariman Jay Julius. “Loomis Trail, Dakota Creek, California Creek and the surrounding areas were very important to our ancestors, and therefore they are very important to the history of our people.”

The Tribe is expected to convert the formerly private course and open it as a public course. Loomis Trail Golf Club is the only course in Washington State to make the nation’s Top 100 list and ts addition compliments the resort atmosphere offered by Silver Reef Casino Resort, also owned by the Lummi Nation. Media contact:Eric Larsen, Director of Marketing, Silver Reef Casino Resort;


We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort Receives AAA Four Diamond Award for 14th  Year in a Row
Fountain Hills (Scottsdale), Arizona (Southwest Region)

For the fourteenth consecutive year since it opened its doors in November 2005, the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort has received AAA’s prestigious Four Diamond Award. The award, one of the few hotel appraisal systems that depends on physical evaluations, is determined by a team of inspectors that review more than 27,000 eligible properties based on comfort, cleanliness, security, and available services and amenities. Just 6% of the more than 27,000 AAA-inspected and -approved hotels earned Four Diamond distinction this year. To receive such designation, an establishment must be “refined, stylish with upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail.”  Media contact: Gail Manginelli, GM & Associates,

Choctaw Casino Durant Breaks Ground on $500 Million Expansion
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has broken ground on a proposed $500 million expansion of the Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Oklahoma. The expanded resort will include 1,000 new rooms and additional amenities and is expected to open in the spring of 2021. The new development will be the fourth major expansion of the hotel and casino resort, which originally opened in 2006. Media Contact: Kristina Humenesky, (580) 380-5967
Director of Public Relations

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to Open Luxury Hotel at Auburn Casino
The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is planning to open a new 18-story, 400-room hotel tower during the second quarter of 2021, Designed to take advantage of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, more than half of the accommodations will feature stunning panoramic views of Tahoma, the native name for Mount Rainier, while other rooms will showcase the majesty of the Olympic mountain range. For a quintessential outdoor experience, the hotel will also feature a rooftop, fine-dining restaurant. The hotel is just one component of a larger expansion project, which includes a 20,000-square-foot events center, a trio of fast-casual dining destinations and a high-energy center bar. Additionally, a carefully curated cultural gallery will celebrate the history and journey of the Muckleshoot Tribe. Media Contact: Rollin Fatland; 206.399.3678

San Manuel Casino Breaks Ground on Major Expansion
Highland, California (Pacific Region)
The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have started a major renovation, which will include San Manuel Casino’s first onsite hotel as well as a new 3,000-seat entertainment venue (the casino hasn’t had a large performance space in more than a year.) Every October, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians host the largest gathering of traditional and modern Native American culture in California at Cal State San Bernardino. Among the performers are the San Manuel Bird Singers, which derive their name not from the sounds, but rather from the migratory patterns of birds that paralleled the movement of people through the territory and tell the story of the creation, animals seen along the way, and sacred places. Media contact: Jenna Brady, Public Relations Manager, San Manuel Casino,


For more information and updates, visit our AIANTA Members in the News page.



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