This week, in a bipartisan vote, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee advanced the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). The bipartisan NATIVE Act would enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.
“The stories and traditions of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people are the foundation of my home state of South Dakota’s rich culture and heritage,” said Thune. “This bipartisan legislation will better integrate Native American tourism into federal tourism efforts to expand tourism opportunities for tribal communities to share this important culture with travelers from all over the United States.”
“Whether you’re from Hawai‘i or South Dakota, we can all agree that tourism is one of the best ways to share local traditions and culture while creating new jobs and supporting small businesses,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Our bipartisan legislation would empower native communities in Hawai‘i and across the country and give them the tools needed to tell their own stories, and promote their vibrant heritage.”
The NATIVE Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). Last month, U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The NATIVE Act is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders including the U.S. Travel Association, American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association, Southeast Tourism Society, Western States Tourism Policy Council, National Congress of American Indians, Alaska Federation of Natives, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Native American Contractors Association, and the Native Enterprise Initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.