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Arts & Life

South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance aims to foster sustainable tourism on indigenous land

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Victoria Wicks
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This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

Tourism in South Dakota generates billions of dollars in revenue each year, yet indigenous communities don't always benefit from those funds.

The South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance was developed with the support of the George Washington University in 2019. It brings together representatives from all nine federally recognized tribal nations who share South Dakota's geography. They join with local, state, and federal partners to create a network and support system for tribal nations to grow their tourism industry in a sustainable way.

Dew Bad Warrior is the project manager for the South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance. "We want to help share our stories, the beauty of our land and our culture with the world on our own terms," Bad Warrior tells Lori Walsh on In the Moment, "It takes that education, and understanding, and commitment to bringing new opportunities to our tribes and dedication to seeing these projects through."

Bad Warrior say the goal of the SDNTA alliance is to strengthen native business owners and work with state and federal partners to make that happen.

Seleni Matus is the Executive Director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies at The George Washington University. She says the educational process goes both ways. "There's a lot that needs to be done making information more accessible to travelers about what is available, where is it available, and what are the kind of guiding principles for respectfully coming into tribal nations and participating in annual events," says Matus.

Resources and a five-year plan can be found on the South Dakota Native Tourism alliance website website