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Tribes talk tourism

Tourism among topics at 21st annual tribal summit

Submitted Photo Dancers perform at a powwow, one of the tourism attractions offered by tribal nations.

BISMARCK – Tribal tourism will be on the agenda of United Tribes Technical College Tribal Leaders Summit & Tradeshow Sept. 5 through 7 in Bismarck.

The North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance, along with NativeWays Travel & Tours and North Dakota Tourism, will be presenting during the summit session on Thursday. Stacey LaCompte, NativeWays board member, will moderate a panel at a breakout session titled “Enhancing Tribal Tourism While Preserving Our Tribal Traditions and Sharing Our Stories” at 3:10 p.m. in the Prairie Rose Room of the Bismarck Event Center.

The NDNTA consists of representatives of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Tourism, MHS Nation Tourism, Spirit Lake Nation Tourism, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Tourism, Sitting Bull COllege Visitor Center, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tourism and Trenton Indian Service Area Tourism.

“The purpose of the organization is to enhance tourism in the tate of North Dakota and Indian country and to develop tourism packages so that they can offer those to the worldwide market, thus creating jobs and creating economic development,” said Alliance President Les Thomas with Turtle Mountain Band of Chippwea Indians Tourism.

Fort Berthold has developed tour packages and is working with Rocky Mountain International to market those packages. Each tribe is developing its amenities to establish tourism packages for the world market, Thomas said.

“In Turtle Mountain, we have built a brand new heritage center that will be the anchor to our tourism package,” he said.

The Spirit Lake Nation continues to share ideas with, and encourages continued development of, the NDNTA, said Doug Sevigny, tourism director for Spirit Lake Oyate.

“With this joint effort between the North Dakota tribes, we can build together a more solid and sustainable tourism industry,” he said.

George Washington University researchers are assisting in the tourism development.

“NDNTA is a powerful response to the need for proactive tourism leadership and coordination amongst tribes,” said Anna Barrera, tourism researcher with the university. “The George Washington University is excited to be on the ground again in North Dakota, working to support NDNTA’s growth with the help of their dedicated partners like NDIBA, North Dakota Indian Affairs and the tribal colleges.”

George Washington University’s work with the alliance is enabled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which promotes tribes’ economic development via tourism by extending technical assistance through the university’s International Institute of Tourism Studies.

The 21st annual summit opens Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the Bismarck Event Center. Four keynote speakers highlight the summit.

Dakota Duncan, a young artist and enrolled member of the Rosebud Tribe in South Dakota, will speak Tuesday. Independent journalist Mark Trahant, a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and University of North Dakota faculty, keynotes on Wednesday.

Community leader and writer Eileen Briggs speaks Thursday. She holds the Bush Foundation’s Native Nation Building Portfolio, designing strategic investments in Minnesota and the Dakotas and the 23 Native nations in the region. Bronson Koenig, a former Wisconsin Badger who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, speaks Thursday. He is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin.

The conference agenda offers sessions on tribal governance, health and wellness, economic development, Native media, tribal gaming, environment, law enforcement, housing, culture and language, education and tourism. A youth leadership summit and meeting of tribal transportation planners run concurrently.

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