The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) booth at the ITB Berlin, one of the world's leading and biggest travel trade shows, was again a huge success this year. By participating in the booth, Native American tribes, tour operators and other organizations are able to introduce themselves to markets they might not otherwise reach. Tribal representatives can show and tell ITB visitors what they have to offer travelers seeking authentic experiences in the USA. It also helps spread foster nation-to-nation relations, improve understanding of Native issues and culture, and build goodwill.
Among the numerous tribes and organizations sending representative to the AIANTA booth this year (March 6-10, in Berlin, Germany) were the Navajo Nation; the Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers; a Native tour operator from iconic Mounument Valley; Native Tourism of Wisconsin; the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota; and the Chickasaw Nation.
“There are 566 federally recognized tribes. Many of them are AIANTA members and we want to show visitors both how similar and how diverse we all are,” said Camille Ferguson, Sitka Tribe of Alaska member and AIANTA executive director. “We know Europeans, particularly Germans, are interested in our American Indian and Alaska Native cultures. (related story: Cultural Festival in Germany Presents Unique Opportunity for Native Filmmakers) This is a great opportunity for six of our tribes to offer their cultural tours,” she added.
Native American Tourism of Wisconsin represents all eleven sovereign nations of Wisconsin. Visitors are welcomed to a land that includes 200,000 acres of pristine forests, the wild and scenic Wolf River, hundreds of pre-Columbian effigy mounds and stunning landscapes inside the new Frog Bay Tribal National Park. On the shores of the massive and mystical Lake Superior, the first tribal national park in the United States offers sandy beaches bordered by primordial boreal forest.
A member of the Arikara tribe from the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota represented the Three Affiliated Tribes: the Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan. “We are not afraid to show the world what our culture can bring as well as capture the hearts of the people that haven't seen or heard it,” exclaimed Jason Morsette. “There are things that the native world has to offer and we carry all our pride with us wherever we go as well as for the world to see,” he added.
The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma offers significant historical and modern attractions for visitors. The Chickasaw Cultural Center is the largest tribal cultural center in the United States and offers demonstrations, exhibits and an amphitheater for singing and stargazing. Chickasaw art, artifacts and archives draw visitors to the Chickasaw Council House Museum. Chickasaw's more modern attractions include award-winning spas, golf courses, the largest casino in Oklahoma, and a calendar that always includes world-renowned performers and entertainers.
The Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers are based in Pipestone, Minnesota, home of the Great Pipestone Quarries and the place were tribal people have come to obtain stone for their prayer pipes for more than 2,000 years. The Pipemakers believe in preserving their tribal arts and culture by educating their own people and sharing it with the world. Their annual pow wow and culture camp is open to visitors. They also offer presentations and workshops.
The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American Nation in the United States. One of the Navajo Nation's 13 enterprises, the Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise (NNHE), was at ITB to showcase its full-service properties in Window Rock, Tuba City and Page, Arizona. NNHE also operates the Explore Navajo Museum in Tuba City, which offers a close-up look inside the Navajo people and culture. Within the museum is the Navajo Code Talker's Exhibit, an inspiring representation of the brave Navajo men of World War II.
For many Europeans, Indian Country and Monument Valley are synonymous. The area is rich in color, geographic marvels and native culture. Monument Valley Simpson's Trailhandler Tours are led by Navajo people who know every crease, crater and canyon in their motherland. Trailhandler Tours lead photographers to hidden treasures in the famed red rock country, while adventurers experience four-wheel drive jeep and hiking tours with guides who have spent their entire lives on this land. Navajo hogan bed-and-breakfasts and cultural activity tours are also popular with international visitors.
AIANTA was formed in 1999 to help federally recognized tribes in the USA tell their unique stories. To allow visitors to explore Indian Country more easily, AIANTA divides the country into six regions: East, Plains, Midwest, Southwest, Pacific, and Alaska.