This week on the Minnesota Native News health report, as the state continues to turn the corner and get vaccinated, talk has shifted for some to what’s next for Indian Country. Reporter Dalton Walker explains with this week’s stories.
Minnesota is known for its snow and cold winters, but it’s also known for its many summer outdoor adventures. Minnesota tourism was a billion dollar industry before the pandemic.
Tourism in Indian Country is more than powwows or stops at the casino. Sure, both play a role in bringing revenue to the tribal government. But tourism is beyond that, especially now that things shuttered by the pandemic are slowly opening back up. Plus, with tribes pushing for vaccinations among tribal citizens, and some tribes even offering it to anyone willing to get the shot, brighter days are ahead.
Tribes in the state have magnificent cultural centers like the Shakopee Mdewakanton’s Hoċokata Ti, or prime walleye fishing opportunities on Ojibwe lands up in Leech Lake, or even the great hiking and scenic views at the only state park within in a reservation, home of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
A national survey focused on tribal tourism found that nearly 70 percent of respondents believe tourism will increase greatly in the coming months. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association’s annual survey asked Native and tribally owned hospitality businesses
Association CEO Sherry L. Rupert said the optimism comes as many across the country itching for a vacation will pass on international travel in favor of domestic road trips.
“After all our industry has faced, I’m so excited for everything the second half of 2021 and 2022 has to offer,” said Rupert.
Rupert was one of five tourism experts to testify this week in a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs oversight hearing focused on Native tourism economies. Committee Chairman Brian Schatz said dedicated dollars for tribes by the recent American Rescue Plan helps but more needs to be done.
“Yes, help is here. But many Native communities need particular resources to reboot, revitalize, and expand their tourism economies. The Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act, or Native Act, would help Native communities do just that.” said Schatz
Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism arm, has a user-friendly website that highlights museums and historic sites on tribal lands.
Adventure is out there. Be sure to check your specific destination’s website to see what COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place before heading out.
In other news…
A popular social media post by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed the world how serious Indigenous people are about the vaccine.
The CDC updated its data tracker this week to display vaccine progress trends by race and ethnicity. In the social media post of a graphic chart, American Indians and Alaska Natives are first in the percentage of fully vaccinated.
30 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives are fully vaccinated, and the group has been in the lead since January, according to the CDC.
For a closer look at the data tracker, visit the CDC website at covid.cdc.gov
Dalton Walker reporting for Minnesota Native News