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Culturally Sensitive & Sustainable Tourism: Supporting Indigenous Tribal Travel Opportunities

By Rachael Higham

Image description: Badlands National Park in South Dakota, on the ancestral homelands of more than 22 Indigenous tribal communities. Photo by Bernard Spragg, Creative Commons licensed on Flickr.

While traveling along the Lewis and Clark National Historic trail, consider taking one of the following tours to learn more about Native American cultures in the West. The goal of each of these tours is to educate and connect visitors to the history and culture of each tribe while being immersed in the beauty of the surrounding lands.

Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce

Tatanka Rez Tourz

Tatanka Rez Tourz offers guided tours through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation located in the southwestern part of South Dakota. The tour
company is owned by the father-daughter team Warren and Tianna Yellowhair. Each tour provides the opportunity to delve deeply into the
history, language, and culture of the Lakota (Sioux) people.

All visits are tailored specifically to the group and often include presenters and artists from the community. For every tour, there is a stop at an overlook of Wounded Knee where they do a ceremony to honor the people who lost their their lives the day of the Wounded Knee Massacre. Please follow the link to find read more about the tours and how to book a tour.

Apsáalooke Tours

Open every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Apsáalooke Tours offers interpretive tours at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Crow Agency. Embark on this one-hour tour with Native American guides in an air-conditioned bus and learn more about the events leading up this battle.

Little Bighorn Battlefield, photo by S. Smith (NPS)

Tours run hourly and private one or two-hour tours are also available. Please visit Apsáalooke Tours for more information.

Sun Tours, photo on lewisandclark.travel.

Glacial Sun Tours

Celebrating its 32nd year anniversary, Sun Tours offers daily Blackfeet interpretive tours through Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun
Road and throughout Blackfeet Country. Sun Tours, owned and operated by Ed DesRosier, is both a local Blackfeet tribal business operating on the Blackfeet Reservation, and a National Park Concessionaire.

The mission of Sun Tours is to educate and inspire all to a higher respect, appreciation, and
understanding of the Blackfeet world. Both half and full-day tours are available where you will learn about the history of the park, animal species, common plants and roots used for nutrition and medicine, and the history, culture, and stories of the Blackfeet People.

Nez Perce Tourism

Nez Perce Tourism, located in Lewiston, Idaho, creates tours to connect you to the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) culture through interactive storytelling, song,
drum, and dance. Choose between land and water journeys which provide an exclusive experience learning the ancient and modern ways of Nimiipuu (The People).

Image courtesy of Nez Perce Tourism

There are multiple tours to choose from such as Hear the Echoes of our Ancestor Jet Boat Tour along the Snake River into Hells Canyon; Nimiipuu White Water Rafting on the Salmon River; Dinner with the Nez Perce; Traditional Arts Workshop; and more! Nimiipuu Tours earned AIANTA’s “Best Cultural Heritage Experience” in 2021.

Glacier National Park, NPS.

Blackfeet Tours

Blackfeet Tours is located near Glacier National Park in Montana and gives visitors an opportunity to speak and learn from owner Alger Swingley, a Blackfeet Native American outfitter and guide, and other Blackfeet Elders. This tour company offers family-friendly jeep tours of the Blackfeet Reservation as well as family-friendly hiking or horseback riding tours in Badger Two Medicine area.

Regardless of your choice, expect to delve deeply into Native history, modern culture, and the relationship of Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indians. If you are looking for a fly-fishing or hunting experience, make sure to check out Blackfeet Outfitters also owned and operated by Alger Swingley, Naatoyii Miistaki Oh’kitoopii, “Holy Mountain Rider.”

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