Photo Credit: Toypurina Mural, Anza National Historic Trail // NTorres / National Park Service
Women’s History Month 2022
Native American Women Leaders in Cultural Heritage Tourism
Every March, designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation, AIANTA recognizes some of the leading Native American women who are dedicated to advancing cultural heritage tourism. These leaders are long-time supporters of AIANTA’s mission and just a small subset of the many women helping drive economic development through tourism promotion.
Cynthia Chavez Lamar (San Felipe Pueblo)
National Museum of the American Indian
Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Cynthia Chavez Lamar is the first Native woman to head a Smithsonian museum. Chavez Lamar oversees the museum’s three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in Lower Manhattan and the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland.
Since January 2021, Chavez Lamar has served as acting associate director for collections and operations at the museum. She was responsible for overseeing its collections, facilities, safety and information technology departments. She led efforts to ensure effective management of and care for the museum’s collection, which is composed of more than one million objects and photographs and more than 500,000 digitized images, films and other media documenting Native communities, events and organizations.
Chavez Lamar is an enrolled citizen of San Felipe Pueblo, and her ancestry also includes Hopi, Tewa and Navajo on the maternal side of her family. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado College in studio art, a master’s degree in American Indian studies from UCLA and a doctorate in American studies from the University of New Mexico. She also received an honorary doctorate from Colorado College for her contributions to the museum field.
Mary Goddard (Tlingit)
Regional Catalyst for Regenerative Tourism in Southeast Alaska
Secretary, AIANTA Board of Directors, Southeast Alaska Region
Mary Goddard is Regional Catalyst for Regenerative Tourism in Southeast Alaska and also serves as the Secretary of AIANTA’s Board of Directors. She is an advocate for helping small businesses and communities thrive in the tourism industry in a way that benefits all involved. Mary believes that when done correctly, tourism can help improve the environment, strengthen communities, and celebrate culture. Visitors can learn a great deal from Alaska Natives on values and nature cycles.
Mary is known for her art, which includes contemporary, carved and woven jewelry using traditional materials and metals, and it also includes installation art, film and television projects. Mary’s hobby managing the cooking blog Forest Fresh Alaska promotes knowledge and cooking tips utilizing indigenous foods from the rainforest to the ocean forest.
Mary received a degree of completion at school at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She worked on various film television productions such as Fireproof, The Grace Card, ABC’s show Lost, and she was also a Producer and Camera Woman for the show Coast Guard Alaska.
Penny Peters (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe)
Penny Peters is a strong believer in the word “community” and has found a passion in being a part of Akwesasne’s economic growth. Penny works with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe as the Tourism Industry Development Manager on Akwesasne Travel.
Her role with Akwesasne Travel has been to coordinate several planning documents to help guide the creation of Akwesasne Travel and to help build the Tribe’s tourism economy. In her current role, she has been charged with establishing partnerships with hospitality attractions, DMOs and major organizations both domestically and internationally. She also works closely with Akwesasne’s Tourism Business Incubator program to develop tour suppliers and attractions.
“I love seeing how cultural tourism can revitalize and strengthen the continuation of traditions for the next seven generations,” said Penny on her appointment to the Board of Directors for the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA). She has been representing and promoting Indigenous tourism with NY State since her appointment.
Mālia Sanders (Kānaka Maoli)
Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA)
In her role as Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA), Mālia Sanders brings more than 20 years of upper management experience in the hospitality industry and over 10 years in various positions with NaHHA. She is one of the newest recipients of the 2022 Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Hawaiʻi Venture Capital Association.
Mālia will lead the nonprofit as it prepares to take on a larger role in Regenerative Tourism, building capacity with organizations throughout Hawaiʻi, and continuing to ensure that the Native Hawaiian perspective is incorporated in the decision-making process from inception in the industry. Sanders admits that although the pandemic forced the organization to pivot, the shift has led to the development of new partnerships and programs and has allowed the organization to expand and grow its reach. “Regenerative Tourism is a huge undertaking. It’s going to take a lot of work and collaboration between our community, our visitor industry and our legislative leaders to help us make the pivot towards Regenerative Tourism in Hawaiʻi. Engaging our workforce, our leadership in the industry and our visitors are key to reaching this end goal. It is an honor to join the ranks of Native Hawaiian women in leadership and with that comes a responsibility that I do not take lightly. .” . . . the nonprofit continues to expand upon the legacy left by generations of Native Hawaiians who have worked in the visitor industry. NaHHA’s goals are to provide strategies, tools and resources to create innovative solutions at the intersection of Hawaiian culture, community and the visitor industry throughout Hawaiʻi.
Mālia is a founding member and Alakaʻi of ʻAha Pūlama Pāʻū Hololio, a Hawaiian Pāʻū Riding Club, the Vice President for the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu, and the Chair of the annual Holokū Ball. Mālia is an experienced equestrian and enjoys her time with her ʻohana in Kapolei, Hawaiʻi.
Marie Torosian (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes)
Three Chiefs Cultural Centerh
Marie L. Torosian is a proud member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Born in St. Ignatius, Montana, and raised there, Missoula, Arlee. and parts of California, Idaho and Washington. She is the second eldest of seven children born to Ida Sorrell Curley (Salish) and the late Domnick J. Curley (Coeur d’Alene/Pend d’Oreille). Marie has been married for 39 years to her Salish tribal member Arnold Torosian; they have three grown children all married to wonderful people and six wonderful grandchildren who all still reside in St. Ignatius.
Attending public schools in California, Missoula, St. Ignatius and Arlee and graduating from Arlee High School then attended Salish Kootenai College for Human Services courses and Early Childhood Education which she earned a certificate of completion.
Marie has worked for CSKT for 35 years. Thirteen of those years as the Historical Collections Manager with the Salish, Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee where she worked with tribal elders and cultural specialists learning about the traditional ways, traditional foods, plants and Salish language while establishing and organizing the archives for the committee.
In 2003 she accepted a transfer to The People’s Center Museum and Cultural Center as the Education Director. This position expanded to care for the museum, exhibits and artifacts in the repository. Marie was promoted to the Director of The People’s Center in December 2015 and continues to lead and guide staff to continue the mission and vision of the Cultural Center, which rebranded to the Three Chiefs Cultural Center in late 2021.
She loves working at Three Chiefs Cultural Center and the Confederated Salish Tribes where she can continue to teach & share her culture and tribal histories with the people. “Learning and following in the footsteps of our elders and hearing their stories is an important part of my life”. Marie thanks her parents, grandmother Annie Sorrell, Salish mentor Lucy Vanderburg, tribal elders and cultural advisors for teaching and sharing the tribal lifeways.
Women’s HIstory Month Archive
Find more inspiring Native women leaders in tourism in the below articles:
- Native American Women Leaders in Cultural Tourism list for 2021
- Women Leaders in Cultural Tourism list for 2021
- Influential Native Women to Lead Tourism Recovery Conversations at AITC (2020)