North America is one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet for travelers looking to explore the great outdoors. From rugged mountain ranges to beautiful lush forests, there is something for every taste on this great continent. Native American tribes are one of the most popular attractions for travelers. These people have lived in harmony with the land for centuries, and many visitors are fascinated by their practices and history.
Let’s discuss sustainable tourism for Native American tribes and the impact our actions can have on their way of life.
What Is Sustainable Tourism?
According to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, ‘sustainable tourism refers to sustainable practices in and by the tourism industry. It is an aspiration to acknowledge all impacts of tourism, both positive and negative. It aims to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the positive ones.’ The practice also focuses on enhancing and educating travelers and locals to create a better future for generations to come.
Struggles Of Sustainable Tourism For Native American Tribes
Since the 1980s, sustainable indigenous tourism has been a vehicle for preserving and respecting the cultures of Native American tribes. Bodies such as the Indigenous Tourism Collective of Canada reported record-breaking years in 2017-2019. The availability of sustainable tourism opportunities was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many reservations closing their doors to travelers due to communities being highly at risk.
However, there is hope. In 2021, the Indigenous Tourism Collaborative of the Americas was formed. This Northern hemispheric collective brings together indigenous leaders from nations worldwide to encourage sustainable tourism practices that benefit native communities economically, environmentally, and spiritually.
Native American tribes in the U.S have also had more help in recent years with the implementation of the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act in 2016. This act ‘serves to establish a more inclusive national travel and tourism strategy and has the potential to deliver significant benefits for tribes, including jobs creation, elevated living standards, and expanded economic opportunities.’
Native American Tribes And Sustainable Tourism Opportunities
For those interested in sustainable tourism opportunities, several Native American-owned and operated companies provide a chance to get up close and personal with the indigenous people and their culture. Here are three of the best choices available for keen travelers wanting to learn more about indigenous American culture during their trip.
Watch The Buffalo Roam In Wyoming
Home to the seventh-largest Native American Indian reservation in the U.S., Wind River is one of the most beautiful destinations for travelers wishing to learn more about indigenous culture. The reservation is home to the East Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, and allows visitors to experience firsthand the traditions and spiritual practices of the natives. You can take a wildlife tour through the 2.2 million square hectares of land or observe a traditional powwow ceremony during the warmer months. Suppose you’d like a more structured experience. In that case, the Fort Washakie High School students offer a ten-point tour that takes visitors through places of interest and significance to the Wind River Indian Reservation people.
Stay in a Traditional Navajo Hooghan Hut In Arizona
Built from the raw materials of the surrounding land, the Navajo people created mud huts known as hooghans, which protected them from the harsh environment of the Arizonian desert. Run by Howard Smith, a Navajo-born native, the Spider Rock Campground offers visitors the opportunity to sleep in the traditional hooghans used until the early 20th century, and experience life as the indigenous people did. You can immerse yourself in the culture and history of this Native American tribe, as all proceeds go towards preserving the campground and culture of the Navajo people.
Discover Healing Medicines In The Canadian Rocky Mountains
Native American culture focuses on holistic and natural healing methods, and the knowledge of plants’ medicinal properties is unparalleled. Located in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Mahikan Trails is an indigenous-owned and operated company that takes travelers through the magnificent ranges on educational tours. Run by Cree/Iroquois Metis woman Brenda Holder, tours focus on the history of the area and essential survival skills like flora identification and how to start a fire in the snow. Mahikan Trails is a proud partner of Indigenous Tourism Alberta, and is dedicated to respecting the rich culture of the area’s native peoples.
Learn About Native American Indians Through Sustainable Tourism
If you want to learn more about Native American history when you visit North America, the best way to support the indigenous people is through sustainable tourism. Choose locally owned companies that provide fresh information, and make sure to respect and preserve the culture of the land you are visiting.
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