Tribal Tourism: Turning Visions into Reality

Tribal Tourism: Turning Visions into Reality

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- Good morning, good afternoon, and good day.  My name is Freddie Gipp and I'd like to welcome   you to another OIED, Office of Indian Economic  Development webinar series. This one featuring   "Tribal Tourism: Turning Visions Into Reality From  Business Planning To Implementation," presented   by the Office of Indian Economic Development  in collaboration with the American Indian,   Alaskan Native Tourism Association. My name  is Freddy Gipp and I'll be your moderator and   host today. And I'd like to thank each and  every one of you for taking time and just  

learning about new situations in tourism. And  hopefully you get some ideas outta this too,   you know, and so we'll move on. So general  housekeeping. So the webinar is recorded,   everyone is muted during the presentation.  If you have any questions, please enter it   in the chat. We will address them at the end  of the program. And slides and recording will  

be made available to participants at a later  date with closed captioning and everything   too. So you don't have to worry about it if you  miss it or if you wanna send this to people too,   feel free after it is all situated. Also, there  is a survey link that we put into the chat for   everyone to complete. We do encourage for you to  send this out there. It really helps us improve   for future webinars as well and just for your  satisfaction overall too. So moving forward,  

I would like to present another guest with us,  Mr. Dennis Wilson from OIED, who will introduce   the Office of Economic Development. - Thanks, Freddy. Good morning everybody,   or Good Afternoon, depending on where you're at.  My name is Dennis Wilson. Typically this kind of   overview is done by Denise Litz, our Director but  unfortunately she's not available. I think she's  

traveling at the moment, so I was teasing her that  I could almost do her whole introduction, however   many webinars and presentations we've been on. But  yes, this has come together with INSA and Tribal   Tech, and I can't say enough about Tribal Tech  and we'll get into their folks here in a bit. But   OIED, we are under AS-IA, the Assistant Secretary  Indian Affairs, our Director is Onna LeBeau,   she's from the Omaha Tribe. So if you think about  us, we could split this in half. The other half   is the division of Capital Investment. They do  guaranteed loans and insured loans. So please look   into that if that's something that fits your bill.  But our half the division of Economic Development,   our Director is Denise Litz. She's been with us  since 2001, early 2001, moving forward. So our  

half of OIED division of Capital Investment, we  could further break that down into two halves.   The Economic Development Specialist Team and the  Grants Management Team. And we'll quickly look at   the economic development specialist zones, not to  be confused with BIE regions. So if you see there   in the green, that's managed by Mr. Jim Henry. The  red is managed by Janelle Green, including Alaska,   and then the Eastern Zone with Rebekah HorseChief.  So please contact them if you're in those zones   for any other, anything that you need as far as  economic development and I'll be glad to help   moving forward. Our team, the Grants Management  Team, so far, we have two of us. Myself, Dennis  

Wilson. I'm remote, located in Albuquerque,  New Mexico. I'm from Taos Pueblo and I   facilitate and manage and oversee most all five of  our grant programs. I pitch in here and there for   other things. Elizabeth Callahan started with us  last year located in Alaska, or sorry, Oklahoma,  

Alaska. And she kind of covers everything else,  if you can believe it. She helps us with grants   and she does a plethora of other things with OIED  in general. So between the two of us, we're adding   a third party on Monday, our contractor, and then  hopefully we add in another Grant Manager in the   coming year. So between the four of us, we should  really get on top of all the grant management we   have, all our data and if you have any questions  on these grants, please let us know. We're gonna  

only offer one this fiscal year, which is the  tourism grant, and I'll jump in later to speak on   that. But otherwise please let us know and contact  us if need be moving forward. My last slide,   we'll do a quick introduction of Tribal Tech,  Dr. Priscilla Belisle, Dr. U'ilani Corr-Yorkman,   Dr. Kelly LaChance and Mr. Freddy Gipp.  They've been phenomenal. We worked with,   I've been working with them this year  from our grantee meeting going forward,   they've been phenomenal. So please contact them  if need be and moving forward, take it away.  

- Thank you Dennis. So in collaboration  with today's webinar, we are working with   the American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism  Association and speaking on that will be   Hannah Peterson. And so Hannah, take it away. - First I wanna welcome everyone to the webinar   and thank you for joining today. And also start  with an apology. Our board member, Ms. Kate  

Anderson, the our Board Secretary and board member  representative from Southern California region,   unfortunately last minute was not able to attend.  So I'm just jumping in to say hello and introduce   us just a little bit. And also if you have an  opportunity, Kate Anderson is the Director of   Public Relations for Agua Caliente, excuse me, and  of Indians. And they just have opened their new  

beautiful cultural plaza and spa in Palm Springs  and it's beautiful. So if you have an opportunity   to take a look at it, I know she was going to plan  on talking about it today and I'm really sorry   she's not able to join us and hopefully, she's  not contagious. Maybe I'm not. At any rate, I did   wanna introduce AIANTA. We were founded in 1998,  established by Tribes, four Tribes to address   inequities in the tourism system. We are governed  by an all Native board of directors from our 15   regions across the United States. AIANTA serves  as the United Voice for the $14 billion Native   hospitality sector. Our priorities and areas in  which we focus are providing technical assistance  

and training, research and publications to  American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian   communities engaged in tourism and hospitality to  facilitate conversations with Native communities,   federal agencies, nonprofit associations and  elected officials on the economic and cultural   importance of the healthy of a healthy hospitality  industry. To highlight the importance of visiting   authentic Native destinations, including cultural,  heritage, historic, and artistic sites. And to   generate awareness, interest and demand for these  destinations with domestic and international   travelers, the travel trade and the media. And  super excited to have Darian Morsette on the   call today. I know he is one of your panelists.  He's also a member of our Board of Directors   and I did see that Camille Ferguson a shout out  to her. She's our former Executive Director and  

also board member from AIANTA. So you've got  a great group with you today and I know it's   gonna be a great presentation. And again, we're  so sorry that Kate's not able to attend. And just   last and probably should have been first, sorry  about that. Our mission is to define, introduce,   grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native,  a Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions   and values and really encourage you to take  a look at our website at and also It's the only consumer  facing website dedicated to cultural tourism   in the United States, and there is no charge to  participate in that powerful marketing tool if you   are a Tribe Native Alaskan or Native Hawaiian.  Thank you so much for your time today.  

- Yeah, thank you Hannah. So the purpose of  today's webinar is to seek to provide practical   steps for implementing Tribal tourism business  plans, including effectively transitioning   Tribal tourism concepts into actionable plants,  strategies to ensure sustainability and cultural   preservation, insights from Tribal tourism  ventures. And so we're really excited to have   two panelists with us today, Mr. Morsette and Mr.  Harjo. These individuals are doing distinguished   work in their respective areas and tribes and you  know, we're really can get into it. So starting   off with our panel is Mr. Zechariah Harjo.  Zechariah is Muscogee Creek and Dine, he's the  

Secretary of Nation for the Muscogee Creek Nation.  But I'll let him introduce himself too. Zach,   thank you once again for taking time  outta your busy day. I understand that   you're doing a lot of work, justice work too,  and like I said before, you know your time is   appreciated. So yeah, take it away, Zach. - Yeah, as Freddie mentioned, I am Muscogee   Creek as well as Dine Chickasaw Seminole. I'm  enrolled citizen of the Muskogee Nation and   where I serve as a Secretary of the Nation,  my department manages a lot of the economic   development divisions and offices within the  Tribe, but directly managed by my office now is   the Office of Government Relations, the Office of  Self-Governance, our contract employment support   office. We have a Tribal utility authority, we  have the planning, internal planning and economic   development strategic office. And then we have  the grants office. So each of the departments  

within the Nation, across the board implements  grant funding. And they're all essentially   housed or managed at high level through our  grants office. So we're constantly working on   a number of projects initiatives. Recently I was  able to establish a change in our code of law to   be able to have a separate but congruent Office of  Commerce. And so we work a lot with the Division   of Commerce within the Nation to take on some  larger business initiatives. And I formally manage   all of them as a section nation and commerce  and the commerce side manages the Tribal tourism   division as well as recreation. We have some small  businesses that the Nation owns and operates,  

including a golf course and a few other items  as well. But while I still have a hand in the   ongoing management of those offices, I'm no longer  directly over them. And instead I play more of a   kind of collaborative role as a sector of the  Nation and no longer the sector of Nation and   commerce. So it's been an ongoing process and  we're really excited where the Nation's at in   terms of progress and especially after the McGirt  ruling and establishing a very firm economic base   within our reservation and as well as externally  outside of the reservation and trying to make a   more kind of regional and national impact the  way that a lot of our peer Tribes have done   successfully at the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw  Nation, and to a lesser extent the Cherokee   Nation. But in general, we're really excited to  be participating in this. And we've done some,   I'll say both historic partnerships, but there  are a number of things that we're working on the   tourism front that I think would really kind of,  kind of shake the ground that we all have operated   off of in within Indian Country particularly.  'Cause within the Nation's reservation we have  

the city of Tulsa and that has offered a number  of opportunities that just weren't possible 15,   20 years ago without the introduction of gaming  revenue, as well as some other successful business   initiatives that the Nation has undergone in  that time where a much more viable partner,   I believe, in our region for tourism as well as  economic and cultural tourism that we directly   benefit in the form of gaming. But there's  so much beyond that that we're excited to   really open the door to and move towards as we  develop our economy here at the Nation. And also   try to open doors for other Tribes beyond  just ourselves. So with that being said,   I'll turn it over to the next panelist and yeah, I  look forward to participating today, thank you.   - All right, thank you Zach. So the next panelist  will be Mr. Morsette. Darian Morsette, he's from   the Three Affiliated Tribes and he's the Executive  Director for the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation and   tourism. So Mr. Morsette, the floor is yours. - All right, thank you Freddy and Zechariah,  

that's very impressive. Very good. And yes, I'm  the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Tourism Director and   I'm also the President for the North Dakota  Native Tourism Alliance. And that's all five   Tribes within North Dakota working together  in a collaboration to develop tourism on each   reservation. And we also partner with AIANTA,  I'm on AIANTA board in Rocky Mountain Region,   and we also partner with our state tourism  department. So those are our two main people   we collaborate. Also, we started with  George Washington University, so this  

is where the whole concept of the North Dakota  Tourism Alliance came to be and came through   a grant through Turtle Mountain the PTP Grant.  So then we just moved on from there. But yeah,   we started from scratch ground level and we've  developed, came a long way in our development   and we were able to secure a Bush Foundation  grant and First Nations grant and get some legal   advice from a legal department, which really,  really helped us out. So we are moving forward   on that and I'll just leave it there. - Thank you, thank you, Mr. Morsette. So as   we go into now, we have three questions for the  panelists. Take your time on answering this. We   have plenty of it, but if you have any questions  from the audience, please put it in the chat and   then we'll address it later. So moving forward  onto the next question. So I guess we'll start   with, we'll start with Zach first. Question number  one is how did your Tribal tourism initiative  

strategically bridge the gap between the business  plan stage and the actual implementation phase?   This doesn't have to pertain to one particular  thing, if you have a portfolio of it, share what's   more relevant too. So in regards to that. - Sure, we are keyly positioned, as I mentioned   before, in the city of Tulsa. We both have a  riverfront property on the Tulsa side of the   Arkansas River as well as the Jenks side. From  the outside perspective, it is all the same city,   but internally they are two different municipal  bodies. The city of Tulsa is the much larger body,   and the city of Jenks is a smaller one, but the  Tribe, of course, both of the Tribe of course,   encompasses both cities. And so to that end, we  essentially had to empower ourselves economically  

before we could really sort of realize a lot of  the business opportunities and potentials that   do come with being in an urban area. And so one  of the ways that tourism really helped us is the   establishment of kind of a hallmark tourism and  recreation facility in our River Spirit Casino   Resort here in Tulsa that also was supplemented  by the purchase of a commercial, I guess, asset   in the River Walk on the other side of the river.  So because the Nation owns property on both sides,   it really generated, like I said, a localized  tourism economy specific to us that then our   businesses later benefit from. And so to that  end, because we've successfully done that on both   sides of the river, we're looking to vertically  integrate upwards and execute a tiff agreement,   a very large tiff agreement with the city of  Tulsa, probably in excess of a hundred million   dollars to make the most of our Tribal tourism  economy that we've generated here in the southern   portion of the city to access and I guess recruit  larger businesses within two miles of our casino   resort. There's an established, a very large  outdoor outlet mall space, and we know that   as opposed to compete with them, if we set up  the right environment through our tourism and   the economy that we drive, that way it can really  drive and develop business for everyone and not   just for ourselves, but all of our partners that  we value, both on the municipal side as well as,   just the private industry side. And to that end,  we've kind of utilized Tribal tourism and the  

economy that we drive in southern Tulsa to kind  of bolster all of the other governmental efforts   that we have within the city, both on the health  side, we purchase a hospital in southern Tulsa   with the means of it being open to the general  public and offering cancer treatment the first   of its kind within our health system that is in  part a derived from IHS funding as well as our   own governmental revenue. So those are kind of the  bigger picture things that we've, like through our   tourism and our economic success there, we've  been able to kind of expand the horizons on   what's possible within our portion of the city.  And then the business planning stage, I mean it's   our economic base and the cultural tourism that we  utilize both in terms of our gaming as well as the   Nation implements one of the largest cultural  events of the Muscogee Nation Festival every   year. It's attended by roughly a hundred thousand  people in a small city just south of Tulsa. We   use those type of events as kind of flashpoints to  really drive not only just the local economy, but   nationally. We have a lot of citizens throughout,  we have citizens in every state, but we also have   partners throughout the contiguous United States  and beyond. And so we use a lot of those kind of   flashpoint moments, whether it be key cultural  events that occur at River Spirit, our gaming   facility, or our own Muscogee Nation festival,  to really bring in those kind of outside eyes to   see if they have any suggestions or potential for  business opportunities and collaboration that they   could bring to the Nation from outside. And one  of the biggest things that we're really working  

on is bringing the unknown into the reservation.  I mean, the city of Tulsa is well established,   our economies here are well established, but what  is missing in the current markets that is not be   what needs are being unfulfilled? And so that's  where our Tribal tourism really helps bridge the   gaps because we do bring in those international  and national and other localized people that   do not live in our region and what are we doing  with their time and their money once they arrive   at our portion of the city or arrive in our key  economic areas. And so, Tribal tourism has been   of the utmost importance, and I think that most  of the Oklahoma Tribes would absolutely be remiss   to not mention that our wild success in gaming  since 2004 has really opened up the doors for us   to move forward for all business ventures outside  of gaming. And, but gaming in of itself is a form   of Tribal tourism, especially in a state like  Oklahoma, where we have a model Tribal compact   that allows specifically the Tribes and no one  else to access that kind of business portfolio.   But Tribal tourism is truly the foundation of all  the other business opportunities that the Nation   has been able to part participate in historically  as well as it's gonna be the foundation moving   forward unless and until the federal government  clarifies Tribe's abilities to implement their   own taxation with or without consideration of  state governments and the preemption of state   law within Tribe's respective territories. So  unless and until that's cleared up, unfortunately,   Tribes will continue to need to be effective  business people and business operators. And  

our most kind of natural front in that space is  tourism. And we to a great degree have leveraged   our Tribal tourism to bridge the gap, so to speak,  between just business development, planning and   recruitment, as well as just providing the firm  base of the number of people that would benefit   from any new business partnerships that we bring  into the region. So I hope I've answered that   thoroughly enough, but of course there are many  moving parts and if there's questions beyond that,   I'm more than happy to fill those, thank you. - Yeah, that was a whole crash  

course right there, so Mr. - Sorry if I skipped part two,   I went to law school sadly, so. - No, that's totally fine, don't   apologize for that. So, yeah, Mr. Morsette,  moving on to you, we're interested to hear,  

what's going on in North Dakota. - Okay, how did your Tribal tourism initiative   strategically bridge the gap between the business  plan and strategic or the stage? Okay, first of   all, with MHA nation, we had our own Tribal  tourism department. So we were kind of a moving   part before NDNTA started. So we were already out  there, we're all in rural communities, each of our  

five reservations, we're close to cities, let's  say we're about 75 to 80 miles away from the next   largest city. So it takes a lot for us to bring  people in because to get 'em off the interstates   and to get 'em away from the cities, it took a lot  of planning and a lot of meetings to get to this   point where we're at now. But, so we were kind  of a model for them to start because we started,   getting out there marketing to act these big trade  shows, local trade shows, we're out there quite a   bit and we've marketed internationally also. And  now I'm gonna step back for us to actual implement  

these phases through being in the city. Yes, it's  a lot of work, but out here it is definitely hard,   but it's getting done, believe me. So when we  started, you know, with the business plan, yeah,   okay. But we started with a tourism assessment  plan. That's where we started moving every,   all the Tribes start moving forward once they  understood the existing potential of attractions,   market demands, supporting infrastructure and  services, you know, overall competitiveness   and socio-cultural economic considerations and  environmental biodiversity considerations. So we   did that with George Washington. You know, that  was the first step. You know, we did the market  

research, the local cultural heritage and history.  We brought all of that because everything that was   pretty much written in a book, we want to change  that into our own story. And also with that,   I'm gonna read the mission statement for NDNTA.  The mission statement of NDNTA is to preserve,   protect, promote, and educate the world about the  culture, history and environment of our sovereign   nations. NDNTA will promote and educate through  sustainable tourism while developing economic,  

social and cultural opportunities for people  and Nations. So that's where we started moving   forward with that and looking at ecotourism and  sustainable tourism, cultural heritage tourism,   those guys are back, excuse me, we're getting  some phone work done. So that took a lot,   the success of tourism development relies on a  lot of factors from healthy environment to social   and economic and political stability. So for us  to bring, to develop this and bring people in,   we had to educate the communities around us,  even our local communities and our Tribal   government that tourism, has changed a lot.  You know, it's not just everybody's coming in,  

it's a free for all, you know there's rules and  there's regulations that we've developed. So   from the business plan to the tourism, that plan,  all the logistics that come into play with that,   the assessment was crucial for us because I said  a lot of the Tribes did not have this department   set up yet. So as we're moving forward now,  we have our booking platform, our websites up,   we've been out there marketing and the economy is  starting to change as we're educating the cities   and locally, regionally and nationally that we're  getting a more of an influx of people in here now.   So that was the biggest test for us to do this,  and getting, working with our partners, it was   huge. We have like over 50 partners, advisors  that we can go to that wasn't there before,  

but we bridged that gap and we even went to the  legislators and lobbied for money from the state,   which got shot down. But we kept moving  forward and each year we started this in 2016,   and we have our board now, and we were a working  board at one point. Now we're a governing board,   with the help of the grant, again, we're able  to hire an Executive Director and a Marketing   Coordinator, which takes the workload out of  off a us because that's a lot of work doing   what we're doing and what they're doing, so. - Yeah, appreciate that. It's really nice to   see the contrast from what you have to  work with in the rural setting and then   from Zach's perspective on being in the  urban setting too. So it's really cool   to see those both compare in parallel each  other in that situation. So moving forward,   on the second question, Mr. Morsette, we're  gonna have you, since you're all warmed up,  

so can you share specific steps or decisions that  played a crucial role in turning the envisioned   concepts into tangible, actionable actions? - Well, again, NDNTA, we started, we revived it,   it was in operation at one time, maybe let's say  10 years before we started this. Then we held our   first ever North Dakota Native tourism summit  then we did outcomes assessments on existing   new tourism products. We did FAM tours, in the  Tribal communities. We presented to our United   Tribes Tribal Leaders board for the first time.  So let 'em know what we're doing. We've created  

bylaws and a strategic plan for NDNTA and we also  did board governance training for a nonprofit,   so there was a lot of steps that came into  developing this. And some of our, well,   I took the Cultural Heritage Certificate from  George Washington University through AIANTA also,   and there's like three of us on a board that have  that. And we developed our NDNTA budget work plan.   We have a 12 month work plan and we developed  a five-year work plan. And what else we have,   yeah, our new, our NDNTA Executive Director,  we created Native American cultural tours. So   that's part of our booking platform also.  So there's a lot of things that we've done   and we've tested our cultural tours, we've had  journalists come up here, we've done tours with   after international roundup with Rocky Mountain  International. We've had tour operators come  

up here and we do FAM tours. So we're getting  there. We're getting to that point where yes,   we are a viable, you know, tourism department. - So thank you Mr. Morsette. So moving forward for   Zach, can you share specific steps or decisions  that played a crucial role in turning the vision   concept into tangible, actionable actions?  I like that, how it has two word plays.   - Sure, we identified, so I'm a big fan of  enumerating both the existing, I guess details to   whatever it is you're working on, whatever project  it is you're working on, knowing what your actual   base is, whether that's economically or in terms  of staff support or I mean project management,   the things that, the projects that you manage  that you know are recurring. And so for us,   when we started looking at how to make sustained  tangible and actionable plans that we can revert   back to and see what progress have has been made,  we identified exactly how much we were spending   per year on tourism and cultural tourism related  initiatives outside of gaming. And of course the   biggest one that we see annually year to year  is the foot traffic as well as everything,   all the events leading up to after and everything  leading up to, during and after our Muscogee   Nation Festival. The budget for that event is  in excess of millions of dollars. But finding  

out exactly where the budget breakdown was, and  then actually, what that translated to in terms   of sales, foot traffic, hotel reservations, you  know, the local economy, how it was impacted,   what do we see in increases in foods and sales  and beverages during that weekend or the weeks   leading up to it and the weeks after it. All  of those things, we put names and numbers to   see where we were missing out on opportunities to  turn those people and all that foot traffic into   more tangible revenue as well as governmental, I  guess, opportunities to provide both services or   to expand the public knowledge and awareness of  everything that the Muscogee Nation does, both on   a citizenship level, but also on a community  level for those that are non-Tribal. And so,   like I said, enumerating exactly what our  impact was, what we were spending and exactly   what we were doing pre-development was of the  utmost importance into that end. We found that,   of course we had a much larger footprint in terms  of the foot traffic that the region sees when   we host cultural events, as well as where we're  missing out on opportunities to capture that local   economy and turn it into a more sustainable and  replicable practice year after year event after   event. And so what that translated to was a focus  on the localized economy. When we do bring in   additional people that don't live there, how are  we best utilizing their time and their resources?   Have we provided a place for them to stay in the  local area? Have we provided sufficient places   to eat? Have we provided sufficient places to  access emergency medical care? And then also on   the digital foot traffic side, is our website up  to par? Is our website able to be able to handle   a large amount of purchases and requests  in during the time of our festival when we   have citizens that can't make it, but they still  want to purchase or procure items that t-shirts,   hats and whatever else that we might sell on site,  do they have a way to access that virtually? So   the two areas that we really focused on after  getting all the numbers back in terms of our   economic impact as well as what we actually spend  year after year on a large cultural and tourism   events, was that we determined that we need to  have an online presence, whether that be both a   store as well as a website that citizens could  click on and find out all the cultural events   that are planned throughout the year, as well  as integrate that with all of our programmatic   and governmental services and functions and  events and activities that we host throughout   the year. So we're in the process of revamping  our tourism website, so that's more interactive   as well as the calendar being updated to the  best of our ability. And to that end, providing  

a way for citizens and not just citizens, but  everyone of course the general public, being   able to access some of the goods and services as  well as products that are sold at those events,   particularly at the Muscogee Nation Festival.  So all of those, like I said, enumerating,   I think the most crucial way that you can actually  track your progress is enumerating exactly what   you were working with before you started taking  action and trying to change things for the better.   Because you can compare those same numbers and  the same things that you took a litmus test or   a measuring stick on before taking any action.  And then directly referencing those numbers and   how they've changed and what portions of your new  developmental phase or whatever, a new initiatives   that you're focusing on, what their impact has  been upon, I guess the key talking points of your   overall goal as well as what was realized before.  So I think those are probably the biggest areas   we focus on. And like I said, based off of the  express numbers that we pulled and we studied,   we saw a need to offer more direct, I guess,  opportunities for people that were coming into the   region that don't live here. You know, we needed  to secure their, like I said, their hospitality.  

We needed to secure more places that for them  to eat. And then also the online website having   an accurate calendar as well as an e-commerce  function so that people could procure goods   and services year round or if they can't make it  in person, that they still have a way to be able   to purchase items that they wish. So those were  some of the immediate areas, but again, big fan of   enumerating, the actual details and numbers that  you're working with now and then how you want them   to change. If you're not working with the actual  numbers, then it is truly just a concept. It's not   something that you can actually envision and then  plan to make progress on if you're not even clear   what the picture looks like from ground zero. - All right, thank you Zach. That's really   insightful. So we'll go, we'll stick with  you on question three. Let's go to question   three. So what unexpected obstacles did your  team encounter during the implementation and  

how did you navigate these challenges  to achieve the envisioned success? This   can be from one event to many, you know, you  name it, if you're in the process right now,   I understand that you're kind of going through  situation with the city at the moment too, and   that you can kind of brush up on that, on how that  infringes on tourism as well. But yeah, first feel   free to discuss whatever you need. - Well, so I guess I'll focus on the things that   we've encountered specific to our Muscogee Nation  Festival as well as the website. Some of the key  

things that we've we're looking to implement  within the next six to eight months before our   next Muscogee Nation Festival. Again, going back  to the foot traffic that we draw into the region,   while it's very significant and while the Nation  has resources to begin addressing a lot of the   issues, the issue of providing appropriate, what  do you call it, hospitality in the forms of hotels   as well as maybe a RV park or things like that.  Those are very big ticket items. And so no matter   what we could do in the immediate future, it won't  meet the need of the a hundred thousand or more   people that enter the region, the majority of  them that don't live there. So there's no way   overnight for us to stand up, a hotel or  something like that, that would provide,   the needs that we see year after year just in  terms of people needing a place to stay for   the weekend. And so we've looked at a number of  ways to begin housing some of those immediate,   I guess, potential customers as well as vendors  that also are in the region for specific cultural   events. And to that end, like one of the solutions  might be, the Nation has a significant property,  

we might move forward with an RV park in the next  six months. And that's one way, but I mean, again,   anytime that we're looking at the bigger picture,  there's almost certainly a need that outpaces our   ability or our resources to resolve it right away.  And so it's just about being strategic about what   the overall goal is. And you know, if the end goal  is to truly be self-sufficient wherever within the  

reservation that we choose to have these events,  then it starts with, again, enumerating the actual   needs of the current situation and then where you  want to end up. And so again, there's probably not   gonna be an overnight resolution to any of the  challenges, but naming the actual things that   you're up against is probably the, is definitely  the first place to start. The other thing that   we ran into is really kind of an issue in  of the modern era is when we've actually   gone to implement any sort of website that has  an e-commerce function, it makes that website,   if it's tied to the tribe, a very large target  for cyber, cyber risk management, for fraud,   for all sorts of cyber attacks and so on the  implementation we've encountered, like I said, a   lot of issues in terms of cyber security and cyber  risk management and potential fraud instances that   we just weren't fully prepared for. And so that's  kind of delayed the implementation and development  

of a new website to ensure that when it's set up  that it is as safe as can as humanly possible.   But also we're a best practice and example of how  to address and make sure that our client and our,   the personal information that we collect to  do just simple orders, all the way down from   credit card numbers and addresses truly remains  confidential and is safe. And so that's kind of   one of the things that we ran into initially in  terms of the implementation. But again, overnight   we're not gonna have all the solutions for that.  But having an open mind as well as, again, your  

a clear end goal in mind will help you get there.  And so that's kind of what we've, our experience   so far and knowing that there will most likely  and certainly be other challenges that we haven't   run into just yet. But yeah, those were at least a  couple of things that we've encountered so far.   - Appreciate that, very interesting. So moving  on to Mr. Morsette, what unexpected obstacles did   your team encounter during the implementation and  how did you navigate these challenges to achieve   the envisioned success up in North Dakota? - We, again, speaking from the point of view   for North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance is when  it was in developmental stage, which it still is   funding, funding's always a big obstacle for us  that we came up against where each of the Tribes   put in 5,000 each to get the NDNTA started,  then we started moving on looking for grants.   So funding was a huge, huge, huge factor for us.  'cause we were doing all the work plus doing our   own work. And that's where once we got the big  Bush grant took some of the pressure off of us,  

we, our Executive Director and our Marketing  Manager are doing a lot of that. So also in there,   consistency when we'd hire a marketing person in  that position, were they able to handle all five   Tribes at once, 'cause we're all rural, we're all  spread all apart, all the way across North Dakota.   And so we went through a couple of those and  which is fine, a big one was educating the public,   'Cause we're, yes, we're on a reservation, we  all live in small towns, you know, but there's   different things that happen here. So when we're  having our events, whether it's horse racing,  

cultural presentations or our powwows educating  people that yes, you can come to them. Yes,   it's not only for Native Americans, it's open to  the public and we invite everybody to come. So   we're bridging that. We're moving forward with  that. And you know, even our Tribe, our Tribal   Councils, educating them about tourism, how we're  promoting with its economic development. Yes,  

the small communities, yes, the artisans, it  spreads out. You know, the more people we're   bring in the economy bills, it's just not coming  into, let's say my tourism department, but it is   building within the community. So that's the part  about being in these rural places that we have   to deal with and we're doing it. And another one  was each Tribe having a tourism office. You know,   that's very critical when it comes to this because  we don't have all the resources, each Tribe has   one or two people in there. You know, I have six,  but we're all spread out doing different jobs. So   we're all taking care of this each in our regions.  So those obstacles, and getting the buy-in,   why should I fund you, Tribal government? Why  should I do this? Okay, economic development,   sustainability, wanna tell our own story,  everybody's gonna benefit from this. And once  

we got the buy-in, okay, great, now we're getting  RV parks in each segment. We're getting a Tribal   park, being built, in the badlands we have, all  the communities are building rec centers, places   to eat movie theaters, entertainment centers,  indoor water parks, jump houses. So the buy-in   there, after the education came through, they're  starting to see it and they're allocating their   money into different attractions that can bring  people in. 'Cause I'll tell you where I'm at,   let's say we have three hotels, it's not very big.  We got about 2,500 people that live here and we're  

probably the largest outta everybody, but we have  10,000 members living within the reservation and   outside the reservation, 16,000 total. So that's  the buy-in the Tribe got, each Tribe is building,   we're working with THPO offices, state offices.  And another one is getting the legal advice,   that from a law firm really, really helped  us out, making our bylaws, that wasn't easy.   We revised them a lot, to get to the point where  we're at and the board training that we got from   George Washington University, a few other people  in there, partners and that, it's been a good   road. Okay guys. So that's where we really come  from the ground level up is where we're at and  

navigating these challenges wasn't always easy,  that's for sure because we're a small board and   there's six of us on there and we're developing  this whole organization. So funding and making   the time to do everything is critical for us. - Yeah, definitely. I personally am a big fan of   your office. I really like what you guys do  with cold tourism, emphasizing the importance  

of pow-wows. Pow-wows are a really big driving  economic factor and I really see now since you   guys been doing that, it's boomed and especially  with what you guys do with the earth lodge too,   with those specials as well. So it's being  creative too, which is really nice. And working   with what you got. 'Cause it kind of seems like  you were thrown in the fire, but you kind of came   out chiseled, you know what I mean? So. - But yeah.  

- So yeah, so moving forward. Thank you Mr.  Morsette. Moving forward, we're gonna bring   back Dennis Wilson. He's going to briefly talk  about the Tribal Tourism Grant program and then   right after that we'll get into question and  answers for Mr. Harjo and Mr. Morsette, we have   about five questions, so we'll get through that  after Dennis speaks. So Dennis, it's yours.  

- Thank you there, Mr. Gipp. I'll have about the  next five minutes to cover what we're gonna do   with the Travel Tourism Grant Program this year.  It'll be our only grant for this fiscal year and   hopefully we kind of thread in a lot of what  Mr. Morsette said and Mr. Harjo talked about   Rebekah and I just came back from the provider's  conference in Anchorage and a lot of the same   hurdles resonate across the country, across the  regions, across the zones. Obviously there's some  

unique to others and then some that we all have  in common, but hopefully our funding, we try to   tailor it. So number one, it's easy to apply for.  It is a competitive discretionary grant program.   So you know, there is that component, good or bad  the way, depending on how you wanna look at it,   but we wanna offer the right product that is in  the need now, what we won't have in this grant,   and I'll kind of go through this here in a bit,  is it will not have a business implementation   component. It is gonna still stay towards  developing a business plan or getting a   feasibility study completed. So the authority that  we have for this grant is it's under the NATIVE   Act. The eligible applicants are Indian Tribes  and Tribal organizations per section four of the   IED-ISDEAA, including Tribal consortia. And for  those that do rank, it will be funding for subject  

matter experts to complete a feasibility study or  get a business plan. So you will have that money   to go get that data and get those resources  and get that information. Now I feel that a   feasibility study, good or bad, is phenomenal for  some Tribes that money is focused so that you can   see if it's feasible. So when we do have to post  on our webpages and those that have been selected,   do note that some of them didn't pursue  it because obviously was it feasible,   yes or no. And then they'll make the decisions  going forward, which does also have its own   unique challenges when you have travel new  governments coming in and new leadership,   they may want to go a different direction. So, but  at least you got the data to support that decision  

going forward. Moving forward please. So what we  hope to look forward with this grant is getting   it in the system this month and it should come out  sometime in January. That's what we hope we want a   90 day solicitation window that will close around  April. That gives us a good four to five months to   August. We want to award in August and stay out of  September. We have about a million dollars total,  

so the floor will be 50,000 and the ceiling, about  a hundred. So we're looking at anywhere between 10   and 15 grantees do know that it is dependent on  funding. As of now we still have that million,   but we did get last year, we had multiple years  of funding, so we were able to award a lot more   this year. It may be a little bit more highly  competitive. We will stretch this out to a two   year period of performance. It's usually been 24  months, but you know, do register with   for the CFDA numbers and watch our webpage for  when it does hit the hit the streets. The NOFO and   the FOA format will be a little bit different.  It's gonna look similar to what our living  

language grant is now in the FOA format. The  criteria may be updated, otherwise it's gonna be   pretty much the same. So do look for that. Do look  at our webpage on those that have been awarded. If   you wanna contact them, if you have any questions  on consultants, they use subject matter expertise   in either your region or your industry, feel free  to reach out to them directly. Unfortunately,   we do the Tribal sovereignty data integrity. We  try to stay out of providing that information that   way we're not giving anything out that a Tribe  doesn't want. We also don't provide any kinda list   for consultants or contractors. Again, it would  be like us promoting and we can't do that. We do  

have to kind of keep that insulated conflict of  interest. However, do register with Tribal Tech.   All these webinars, all this information  will help you apply for other grants. So,   it is answering the questions of the criteria,  I think are key. So there was a couple questions  

that came up in the chat again, on consultants  and contractors. I highly suggest you register   Tribal Tech and then seek out those Tribes  that are in your area. And like Mr. Isaac said,   with the different challenges, it is tough. We've  seen a lot and we just try to keep our ear to the   floor and what can we do? What can we provide  in each grant season? That way we work with our,   and collaborate with our other federal partners  foundations so that we're kind of keeping our   grants in alignment with them, timing with them,  and just making sure we're offering the products   that you need within the confines of our grant  program, N2CFR 200. But otherwise we try to make   sure that we're putting out in the grant world  what's needed. Our competitive process is out   there and it's, we have policy, we're following it  to the T that way we're fair and just making sure   the application process is fluid. So again, I'll  be around if we have any questions, but I think  

that's it and that's my time. So thank you. - All right, thank you Dennis. So as we move   forward, we are now in the Q and A session. This  is just a gentle reminder for everybody too. We   do have a webinar survey link that is posted  in the chat by Kelly. Thank you Kelly. And  

more information on the Tribal Tourism Grant  program as well. So take some time. It only   takes about one minute to fill out the survey  and we appreciate your feedback too. So moving   forward now to the question and answers looking  through this. So I'll go through down the line   it says Pipe Springs National Monument is located  within our reservation. Did any of the panelists,  

Mr. Morsette Mr. Harjo collaborate with the  National Park Service? If so, what was that   experience like? And I'll let you either or  Zach, if you wanna go first, be my guest.   - We actually yes, are working on a  historic partnership with the National   Park Service for one of our historic sites,  the Ocmulgee Mounds National Park in Macon,   Georgia to do a co-management, I guess set up  long term. But to that end we've had some talks   and really good conversations as well as onsite  visits with Secretary Haaland to the Ocmulgee   Mounds. And it's been a very positive experience.  I think, of course, having a Tribal leader,   not just any Tribal leader, but a woman Tribal  leader in the Department of Interior, advocating   on our behalf has been of the utmost importance  and really a turn in the relationship I think that   National Park Services have with Tribes. And right  now we need, I would urge everyone to, if you have  

lands that are considered National Parks within  your reservations, now is the time to really   make the most of those opportunities because we  have that kind of liaison within Department of   Interior at a high level, and not just in the  BIA office, but I mean of course the Secretary   of the Interior Affairs is Deb Haaland. So our  experience with that has been one of respect and   one that we are unfortunately not necessarily  used to when it comes to a federal partner,   particularly the National Park Services, because  for a long time they have unilaterally exerted,   federal jurisdiction over those areas with  or without necessarily too much consent or   partnership from the Tribes, even when NAGRPA or  other known cultural sites are within are located   within those areas. But to the extent that,  again, now, I think as a historic opportunity,   the co-management of those National Parks  and federal lands with Tribes offers the,   a blending of both protection of cultural sites as  well as in what ways the Tribe is willing and able   to leverage cultural tourism in appropriate ways.  Those conversations are being had. And so our   experiences with the National Park Service as well  as our municipal partners in Macon, Georgia, has   been a very positive one. I can't say that that  will be the case, of course, across the country,   but it has just started with the conversation  both at the federal level and again at the local   level. And what we've been able to do in Macon,  Georgia is put large tracks of land and trust on  

behalf of the Nation and in co-management with  the National Park Service, with the intention   that those lands have a very limited commercial  use and especially for the protection of their   cultural heritage. The potential use of them,  like I said, in the terms of commercial aspect,   would be limited to the Nation creating whatever  I guess business opportunities would exist,   whether that be in cultural trainings or cultural,  I guess, tours of certain significant sites. We're   really at the beginning stages of that. So I  can't speak to necessarily a wild success in  

terms of co-management of national parklands  between the federal government and Tribes.   But I think we're really at the cusp of some  really historic, I guess, partnerships that   just have never existed before. And I know, like  I said, we've put large lands, large tracks of   land into the trust outside of our jurisdictional  area, but they're within our historical, I guess,   historical boundaries of former treaties before  we were moved. And so moving forward, I know that  

the integrity or maintaining the integrity of  those lands for their historical purposes is at   the fore. But to what end can be established, a  cultural tourism site that could be a, it could   be a museum, it could be a gift shop, it could  be a center for culturally informed artists that   are citizens of the Nation or citizens of sister  Tribes in that region. It might be providing them   a space for them to sell their culturally relevant  good services and activities in that arena. So I  

think right now there's either very limited or  there aren't really any wild success stories   in partnership with the National Park Service,  but we're, I think we're right at the cusp of   doing some historic things. So I'd encourage every  Tribe, particularly the one that mentioned it in   the chat, to kind of initiate those conversations  with the National Park Service because we have,   we've got an Indian woman in office, so  we might as well make the most of it.   - Yeah, and it's our land too. - Exactly.   - So, Mr. Morsette going to you, I know  you mentioned something about the Badlands,  

I don't know if that's National Park, might. - No.   - It is? - We're not, we're   working with the National Forest Service and Park  Service to develop this. It's a Tribal park.   - Okay, is what it is. - Yeah, we don't have a National Park. Closest   one to us is Medora, Theodore Roosevelt National  Park. That's a whole another ball of wax. I don't   even bother with that. Other than that, we, from  what we're doing at our point, yeah, our park's  

coming along good. And we're not, don't have any  other tracks that we're going after right now. So   right now mine's pretty basic on that point. - So while I have you here, Mr. Morsette,   we have a question from the audience that says,  what opportunities do you have for Tribal artisans   beyond them attending big events? So I would say  minus pow-wows, another thing too, what kind of,   I guess repository or representative actions do  you have, you send, you have ambassador programs,   I know a lot of Tribes send dancers  and cultural exchanges and envoys over,   but can you touch base on what the Three  Affiliated Tribes are doing in regards to that?   - Well, for artisans, we do have a dance group  that goes around, we've Native American Month,   we're at the Heritage Center in Bismarck, North  Dakota, our capital. So we performed there in  

front of the schools. We had speakers and dancers,  we had food. And right now our local college,   Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College has a cultural,  let's say cultural class, I don't know the correct   name for it, but cultural Native American Studies  program, which is a four year program there. And   right now I think all the other five Tribes  in North Dakota also have that going on also.   So that's growing and yeah, that's, we're moving  forward. We're not at that big level yet, but it's   definitely gonna get there, believe me. - Nice.   - On our side, I would say, I know this is a  capacity thing for most Tribes, including us,   especially us. I think we have a lot of citizens  that have artisan based business practices. And  

overnight we cannot create the space that is  necessary for them. But where we have taken   initiative is utilizing ARPA funding or other  federal funds to be able to create spaces for   our citizens who are primarily artisans or  primarily have a culturally relevant business   practice. We try to open space and are in the  process of creating several kind of government   offices or not necessarily government offices, but  properties that the Nation owns specifically for   those purposes and integrating them into some of  our infrastructure projects. Like for instance,  

the Muscogee Nation, despite Tulsa being within  our reservation, we're actually based out of   Okmulgee, Oklahoma, which is a small town  about 20, 30 minutes south of Tulsa. And   most of our governmental offices are there. But  what we've been able to do, one of the planning   and implementation of a new, I guess, visitor  center slash governmental office that will   welcome people into the town of Okmulgee is to  mobilize both ARPA and other federal funds such   as ICDBG funding to provide, like I said, a space  for them or for citizens to be able to access year   round and sell their goods and services. And so  essentially what we're creating is a compliant   on the federal side, a building that will offer  some governmental and citizenship services in   addition to having a forward facing commerce,  I guess, function, where there'll be a market,   again for citizens that have artisan based  businesses to be able to sell their products out   of. We currently already do that in a number of  kind of smaller market setups, but the intention   is to provide those opportunities at kind of the  highest levels of infrastructure projects moving   forward so that we're not only doing better on the  governmental side and offering enhanced services,   but also more opportunities for citizens to  partake in some of the new infrastructure that   we're building out. So I know that's a capacity  issue as well as not everyone has the resources   and certainly without federal funding, this  probably wouldn't be a project that we would   be able to take on immediately. So I understand  that there's capacity issues and in general and  

across the border in Indian Country, but that  might be one of the areas that you consider   is if you're already moving and mobilizing funds,  whether they're Tribal, federal, or a combination   of financing, any combination thereof. You might  consider also establishing some sort of commerce   side where there is even just like a little market  that provides both your citizens as well as the   Tribal government and opportunity for artisans to  have a space that's theirs and for them to utilize   as well as capture any foot traffic that's  in for maybe a doctor's visit or who knows,   whatever they might be in for. So that's one  of the ways we're offering kind of year-round   opportunities for our citizens. And again, the  e-commerce side is another area that we're looking   to as well. You know, if the nation has, it can  effectively establish a online store, you know,  

maybe all that we do to offer our citizens access  to it that do have those goods and services. Maybe   it's a $5 a year, a payment that they have to  us so that we can cover some of the overhead   involved in operating that website and what

2023-12-19 09:21

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