Tribal leaders and Visit California have teamed up to increase indigenous tourism through a new USD$1 million initiative and website to showcase the music, art, nature and history that have shaped tribal communities for generations.
California has the second-most federally recognised indigenous tribes in the US with more than 100 tribes, while LA has the largest indigenous population of any US city.
The dedicated Visit Native California website is set to launch in March 2023 and will promote locations around the state, including podcast content and itineraries.
Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in Palm Springs will open next year with the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, a trail and a spa at the sacred Agua Caliente mineral hot spring.
Other tribal sites promoted by the campaign include the Barona Cultural Center and Museum in Lakeside, California and a cultural centre in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles.
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Chairman Reid D. Milanovich, whose ancestral lands receive 200,000 annual visitors, said he hopes the initiative leads to similar ones in other states.
“This project, this site, it gives my tribe the opportunity, the ability to share our culture,” he said.
“I am optimistic and hope that other states across the country see what we are doing here in California. The state and tribes partnering on tourism are a win-win.”
Leaders involved in the initiative hope it offers a chance for visitors to become more informed about the history of tribal lands.
The 2022 Intrepid Travel Index found one-third of Aussie travellers are interested in a First Nations experience while travelling and 14 per cent researched the First Nations land of their destination.
“Cultural tourism to us is so important for many, many reasons,” said Sherry Rupert, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association President and CEO.
Visit California CEO and President Caroline Beteta estimates that the organisation has been in contact with more than a dozen of California’s 109 tribes ahead of the initiative’s rollout, set for March 2023.
For more info, head to visitcalifornia.com
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