NATIVE Act Boosts Tribal Tourism, Art

Sep 14, 2016

Artist Norma Dupris shows her handmade jewelry at the Northern Plains Indian Art Show in Rapid City's Main Street Square. The NATIVE Act aims to boost economic development around tribal arts and tourism.
Credit Chynna Lockett

This week Congress passed an act to spur tribal tourism and increase support for tribal art.    The act boosts federal funding and resources for native artists and tribal entrepreneurs.

The bill aims to increase the number of native owned art and tourism based businesses. 

If you spend any time during the summer months at a place like Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge – there is good chance you’ll come across a busload of tourists, often from Europe, who stop at the site and make the climb up the hill to the cemetery.  Wounded Knee is popular destination for many who visit South Dakota.   The newly passed NATIVE Act aims to help tribal communities capitalize on these types of visitors.   

“I think there is a lot of opportunities for native tribes to advance tourism in their own tribal communities that haven’t been taken advantage of in the past,” says Jeremy Staab with First People’s Fund.

First People’s Fund is an organization supports native artists and culture bearers nationwide.   Stab says the federal act provides more resources for tribal communities to develop their own culturally based economic development.   

“It can help to bring more people to tribal communities, again helping to stimulate tribal economics, through purchasing artwork and contributing to specifically staying at hotels, eating at restaurants, things like that,” says Staab.  

South Dakota’s US Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds both co-sponsored the NATIVE act.