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AITC, scheduled for October 28-31, 2024, at Paragon Casino Resort, is organized by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and will be held on the tribal homelands of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana in Marksville, Louisiana

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (June 3, 2024) – Registration is now open for the 26th Annual American Indigenous Tourism Conference (AITC), which will be held on the tribal homelands of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, October 28-31, 2024, at Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana and organized by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA).

This marks the first year as the newly renamed American Indigenous Tourism Conference. The name change was unveiled at the 25th Annual AITC in October 2023 to reflect inclusivity of all U.S. Indigenous people. AIANTA, the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural tourism in Native Nations and communities across the United States, will celebrate 26 years at AITC this year as the leader in Indigenous tourism. Each year, the AITC attracts more than 300 attendees who participate for second-to-none networking opportunities, high-level keynote sessions and informative breakout sessions led by some of the hospitality industry’s leading experts. 

American Indigenous Tourism Conference

Date: October 28-31, 2024
Location: Paragon Casino Resort
711 Paragon Place
Marksville, LA 71351

The theme of this year’s American Indigenous Tourism Conference (AITC), “Cultural Tourism: Changing the Narrative”, underscores the transformative journey of native nations and communities in reshaping the narrative that has long been shaped by external forces. The narrative, once crafted and disseminated by others, is now being reclaimed and redefined by Indigenous voices themselves. This paradigm shift signifies a departure from the outdated notion of representation without participation; instead, it heralds a new era of collaboration and ownership, where Indigenous perspectives, rooted in centuries-old traditions and wisdom, take center stage. 

“It is a pivotal moment for Indigenous peoples as they assert their agency, share their stories authentically, and showcase their rich cultural heritage,” said AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert. “In essence, this year’s AITC theme marks a resounding call for recognition, respect, and empowerment—a testament to the resilience and vitality of Indigenous communities. AIANTA is proud to partner with our AITC host the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana to bring best-in-class education, training and networking opportunities, as American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-owned hospitality businesses continue to contribute to the growing tourism and hospitality sector in the U.S.,” said Rupert.

This year’s AITC will take place at Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana, which since opening its doors in 1994 has become one of the top gaming destinations in Louisiana. The property features an impressive lineup of amenities and attractions, including more than 1,000 slot machines and 30 tables, including live poker and sports betting; three hotel towers with more than 500 well-appointed rooms and suites; full-service spa and salon; Topgolf Swing Suite game simulators; 18-hole championship golf course with a pro shop and restaurant; indoor tropical pool & two outdoor pools; a bayou-themed atrium featuring a live alligator habitat; a three-screen movie theater; several bars & restaurants, including a steakhouse and a buffet; full-service RV resort & cabins; Cyber Quest arcade & Kids Quest supervised play center; and over 75,000 square feet of meeting space, including an expansive showroom for concerts and conventions.

“The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe is very proud of what Paragon Casino Resort can offer visitors. We are excited to extend a warm welcome to all attendees of the American Indigenous Tourism Conference, inviting them to experience our home and immerse themselves in our rich culture," said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “We strive to bring progress and opportunities to our Native American brothers and sisters. We are honored to work with AIANTA to move that mission forward and succeed in our common quest of enriching the lives of all Indigenous people.”

Mobile workshops are an AITC tradition as AIANTA partners with the local host Tribe to showcase Native tourism experiences around the conference host site. On Monday, October 28, discover the natural wonders of Central Louisiana with Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Citizens on their Spring Bayou Boat and Sightseeing Tour before indulging in Cajun country’s finest culinary delights, including the renowned “cochon de lait” (pig roast) and a savory shrimp boil. A second mobile workshop invites guests to an enriching journey through the “Tunica Treasure” exhibit at the Tunica-Biloxi Cultural and Educational Resources Center to discover a vast collection of Native American European trade items and artifacts deposited as grave goods by the Tunica between 1731 and 1764, and more.

A favorite AITC event, the Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards Gala, will honor the best and brightest across Indigenous tourism including Indigenous Destination of the Year, Best Cultural Heritage Experience, Excellence in Customer Service, and Industry Professional Award. This event is accompanied by dinner and a silent auction on Wednesday, October 30. The auction raises funds for AIANTA’s tourism and hospitality scholarship program.

Conference registration begins at $525 for AIANTA members who register by the early bird deadline (June 30, 2024). A select number of exhibitor spaces are available at $800 per booth for members and $1,000 for non-members. As with previous years, the conference will also feature a Business of Art Seminar and Native Art Market, and artisans are encouraged to register for a table. AITC attendees who register by early bird deadline of June 30 will be entered into a drawing for one overnight stay at the Paragon Casino Resort during the 26th Annual AITC, where two winners will be chosen. To register and learn more about AITC, visit www.aianta.org/aitc

For more than 25 years, AIANTA has worked to address inequities in the tourism system and has served as the national voice for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian nations engaged in cultural tourism, while providing technical assistance, training and capacity building to Native Nations and communities and Native-owned enterprises engaged in tourism, hospitality, and recreation.

Native Nations and communities who are looking to start or expand their cultural tourism footprint can find resources at www.aianta.org and visitors interested in learning more about Native culture can visit www.nativeamerica.travel

For more than 25 years, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has served as the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural heritage tourism in Native Nations and communities across the United States. Established by tribes for tribes to address inequities in the tourism system, AIANTA is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit governed by an all-Native board of directors and serves as a united voice for the $15.7 billion Native hospitality sector. AIANTA’s successful legislative work led to the industry-changing Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act) funding in 2018, as Indian Country Tourism was recognized through federal appropriations via NATIVE Act implementation. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow, and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian (AIANNH) tourism that honors traditions and values while helping AIANNH businesses become market/export ready for domestic and international markets.

About The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe & Paragon Casino Resort
The Tunica-Biloxi people first appeared in the Mississippi Valley. In the late 1700s, they settled near south of Marksville in east-central Louisiana. Today, the Tribe has more than 1,800 members throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois. The modern Tunica-Biloxi Tribe is composed of Tunica, Biloxi (a Siouan-speaking people from the Gulf coast), Ofo (also a Siouan people), Avoyel (a Natchezan people), and Choctaw. Although ancestry is typically intermixed through marriages, tribal members typically identify either as Tunica, Biloxi or Biloxi-Choctaw. The tribe owns and operates the Paragon Casino Resort, a premier casino resort destination and one of the largest employers in Central Louisiana. Paragon features slots, table games, sports betting, 500+ rooms/suites, dining options (steakhouse, buffet), 18-hole golf course, spa/salon, movie theater, childcare, pools/fitness center, RV park, and more. For more information about Paragon Casino Resort, visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com. For more information about the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, visit www.tunicabiloxi.org.  

Liz Slobodian
(904) 237-1285 or [email protected] 

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