Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs; Mike Platt, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Camille Ferguson, Executive Director of AIANTA. Native News Online photographs by Levi Rickert
Published September 19, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE — There were a lot of smiles at the opening session of the American Indian Tourism Conference at the Isleta Pueblo on Tuesday as an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), the U.S. Department of the Interior – Indian Affairs; and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The MOU is set to give a boost to American Indian tourism. It named AIANTA as the national non-profit association charged with facilitating provisions of the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act on behalf of the federal government. Click here for more information about the NATIVE Act.
AIANTA is the leader among all organizations promoting travel to Indian Country. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the organization is hosting its annual conference this week. Some 300 American Indian travel professionals and others are in attendance.
Representing each respective entity was Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs; Mike Platt, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Camille Ferguson, Executive Director of AIANTA.
Camille Ferguson, executive director of AIANTA, signs the MOU.
“I congratulate AIANTA on its 20th anniversary of helping bring the benefits of tourism to Indian Country,” Sweeney said. “This MOU enters the Departments of Interior and Commerce and their respective bureaus and agencies into a collaborative partnership with AIANTA for the implementation of the NATIVE Act. I am honored to be here today, and pleased to sign thisagreement creating a new partnership between AIANTA, Interior and Commerce whose goal is to develop and strengthen tourism’s important role in sustaining tribally based economies.”
Congress enacted the NATIVE Act to enhance and integrate Native American tourism, empower Native American communities, increase coordination and collaboration between federal tourism assets, and expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States. The purposes of the NATIVE Act are to:
- Enhance and integrate Native American tourism, empower Native American communities, and advance the National Tourism Strategy;
- Increase coordination and collaboration between federal tourism assets to support Native American tourism and bolster recreational travel and tourism;
- Expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States to spur economic development, create jobs and increase tourism revenues;
- Enhance and improve self-determination and self-governance capabilities in the Native American community and promote greater self-sufficiency;
- 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 that are too difficult to access or are unknown to domestic travelers and international tourists;
- Provide grants, loans and technical assistance to Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations that will spur important infrastructure development, increase tourism capacity, and elevate living standards in Native American communities; and
- Support the development of technologically innovative projects that will incorporate recreational travel and tourism information and data from federal assets to improve visitor experience.