In a state with the second-most federally acknowledged Indigenous tribes within the nation, California officers and tribal leaders introduced an initiative Wednesday to drive up tourism in native communities.

The initiative, Go to Native California, and its accompanying web site are funded by a $1 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, which targets public well being and financial impacts of the pandemic and was signed into regulation by President Joe Biden final yr. Tribes introduced it in partnership with Go to California, the state’s primary tourism advertising and marketing company.

It’s one of many newest efforts to revitalize tourism nationwide after the early stage of the pandemic halted journey — and the spending that comes with it. California misplaced a projected $72.8 billion in tourism spending in 2020, in line with analysis by Tourism Economics, a knowledge and consulting agency. The objective is to tell vacationers concerning the music, artwork, nature, and historical past which have formed tribal communities for generations. The web site will promote areas across the state, together with by way of podcasts, and supply itineraries for vacationers.

“This venture, this web site, it provides my tribe the chance, the power to share our tradition,” mentioned Reid D. Milanovich, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, at a press convention on the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in Palm Springs.

The plaza, which can open subsequent yr, hosts the 48,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, a path and a spa on the sacred Agua Caliente mineral scorching spring. Different tribal websites promoted by the marketing campaign embrace the Barona Cultural Heart and Museum in Lakeside, California, and a cultural heart within the Santa Monica Mountains close to Los Angeles.

Milanovich, whose ancestral lands see 200,000 annual guests, mentioned he hopes the initiative results in related ones in different states.

“I’m optimistic and hope that different states throughout the nation see what we’re doing right here in California,” Milanovich mentioned. “The state and tribes partnering on tourism is a win-win.”

Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Go to California, estimates that the group has been in touch with greater than a dozen of California’s 109 tribes forward of the initiative’s rollout, set for March 2023.

Leaders concerned within the initiative hope it presents an opportunity for guests to change into extra knowledgeable concerning the historical past of tribal lands.

“Cultural tourism to us is so vital for a lot of, many cause,” mentioned Sherry Rupert, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Affiliation President and CEO.


Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Related Press/Report for America Statehouse Information Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points. Comply with Sophie Austin on Twitter.