Recognizing the economic opportunities of tourism was only one part of the equation for American Indians living on reservations in Arizona . Other concerns loomed even larger – how to share unique cultural practices without destroying those resources and making residents feel violated. Assistance came from the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy in Tucson , the Center for American Indiana Economic Development in Flagstaff and the Arizona American Indian Tourism Association.
What Happened Next
One Native American tribe, the Hualapai Nation, had embraced tourism since 1975 when they began offering Colorado River rafting services in the portion of the Grand Canyon that is part of their reservation. This decision led to economic success:
- Employing up the 45 people during the peak season.
- In 2000, escorting 4,000 people on river trips and generating $900,000.
- The Hualapais began offering guided tours along the rim of the canyon in 1988. By 2000, more than 100,000 visitors were taking these trips.
- The tribe built a lodge and hired a marketing director to promote the facility.
Another tribe, the Hopi Nation, moved cautiously into the tourism arena. Deciding they wanted to control the tourism they were already getting, the Hopi Nation took several steps:
- Organizing neighborhood clean-up projects including landscaping and signage.
- Craftspeople put up signs noting the location of their shops.
- Tours were offered for a fee.
- Several villages began marketing campaigns.
- In 2000, Hualapai Lodge reached 48 percent occupancy and was moving toward profitability.
- The Hualapai Grand Canyon Resort Corporation has planned infrastructure improvements.
- The First Mesa villages are developing a Hopi cultural center.
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