Native Tourism was one of the niche areas of development identified by the South Dakota Department of Tourism in 2017. In 2018, in conjunction with the George Washington University International Institute for Tourism Studies and South Dakota's nine federally recognized Tribal Nations, the Department of Tourism launched the South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance (SDNTA). The Department is a resource for the SDNTA in making informed decisions about tourism demand, expectations and trends, and a partner in developing a sustainable Native American tourism industry in South Dakota.
South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance
The Department of Tourism and the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies (GW IITS) established the South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance (SDNTA) in 2018. They facilitated three native tourism forums in 2019 at the Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place in Fort Pierre. The forums brought together community members, entrepreneurs, and leaders from eight of South Dakota’s nine Tribal Nations, as well as state agencies and non-governmental organizations. Together, the group discussed opportunities and challenges for tourism development on the reservations. The forums were held to achieve the following: assess current tourism assets on the reservations, decide on the shared vision and goals for the alliance, identify potential challenges that need to be addressed, and develop a list of potential resources that will be critical in driving this collaboration forward.
As of 2021, the GW IITS, as part of a technical assistance project funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, is supporting the establishment of the SDNTA. The SDNTA continues to meet monthly and operates as an ad hoc network of representatives from the nine federally recognized Tribal Nations in South Dakota, and local, state, and federal partners, working together to assess the potential for Native Tourism. The SDNTA members are working together to develop tourism as a catalyst for economic growth.
Development and Management Plan
Over a 12-month period, more than 65 SDNTA local stakeholders participated in a planning and assessment process facilitated by the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies. The output of this is the Native American Tourism Development and Management Plan, South Dakota 2020–2025 (NATDMP).
The NATDMP provides direction and guidance to tribal governments, state-level strategic partners, community leaders and the private sector for working together to enhance the preparedness of Tribal Nations to develop and manage tourism. The plan’s purpose is to support the development of a sustainable Native American tourism industry that will inspire more people to visit, stay, and spend more money in Tribal Nations, thereby contributing to the local economies and wellbeing of Native American communities in South Dakota.
In partnership with the South Dakota Native Tourism Alliance (SDNTA), the Department of Tourism released an updated tribal nations visitor guide in May 2022: A Guide to Tribal Nations: Oceti Sakowin Homelands. The guide is available via TravelSouthDakota.com and at locations throughout the state.
The Department of Tourism has committed resources to the development and promotion of the Oglala Lakota Living History Village on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, familiarization tours to the reservations, hospitality training, pheasant hunting promotion, and publication production and distribution. The Department also provides information and resources on its consumer website, TravelSouthDakota.com.
Please contact Calvin Bloemendaal, Industry Outreach & Development Representative and Cultural Heritage Tourism Manager, for more information at 605-295-8263 or [email protected].