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Visit California Creates Platform Showcasing Native American Culture in the State

by Aoife O’Riordan

Sep 28, 2022

© Visit California/Max Whittaker

Daily

This month, tribal leaders and state officials joined Visit California at the future Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza to unveil a new statewide initiative. This initiative aims to showcase California’s native communities and cultural tourism experiences to domestic and international travelers. At the announcement, tribal leaders from across the state shared with journalists a sampling of the state’s vast array of offerings.

 

dinner

© Visit California/Max Whittaker

California is home to more than 100 federally recognized tribes. Each tribe’s history and culture spans centuries, existing long before Europeans stepped foot in North America or the United States was established. To honor each Californian tribe, Visit Native California plans to use $1 million to increase awareness of and travel to the state’s cultural heritage tourism experiences.

 

“As the state with the highest population of Native Americans, and one of the nation’s leading tourism destinations, California is poised to drastically boost national Native tourism promotion and interest with this undertaking,” said Sherry Rupert, CEO, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. “We’ve seen the economic benefits that come from uniting under a common banner, but more importantly we see the power of cultural tourism to support preservation and perpetuation of our culture. This is a tremendous opportunity for California’s tribes.”

farm

© Visit California/Max Whittaker

 

Funded by a federal grant awarded as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (enacted to help communities hit the hardest by the pandemic), Visit Native California will serve as a vital source of information for visitors. Cultural tourism experiences across the state include museums, cultural centers, outdoor experiences like hiking and boating, restaurants, tasting rooms and more.

 

Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza plans to open spring 2023. This plaza will feature Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, an outdoor Oasis Trail and Spa at Séche. In addition to this new plaza, other efforts include native storytellers working to help expand the California Responsible Travel Code’s emphasis on preserving the state’s cultural heritage and natural resources while bolstering those providing and promoting native experiences across California.

plaza

Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza © Visit California/Max Whittaker

 

The busy Visitors Center in Klamath, operated by the Yurok Tribe in Northern California, leads tours of the river in jet boats and dugout redwood canoes to teach visitors about the majestic terrain. This operation serves as just one example of spreading awareness and showing appreciation for the state’s native cultural heritages.

Visit CA

© Visit California/Max Whittaker

 

“The Agua Caliente people have been deeply dedicated to bringing California’s tribal nations together to promote our shared history and a bright future that we’re eager to share with our California family and visitors alike,” said Reid D. Milanovich, chairman, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. “Today marks a great new chapter for California.”

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