Qualla Boundary named Tribal Destination of the Year by AIANTA

by Sep 25, 2018NEWS ka-no-he-da

AWARD: The Qualla Boundary received the AIANTA Tribal Destination of the Year Award during a recent awards ceremony in Albuquerque. Shown (left-right) are – Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA Board president; James Surveyor, AIANTA Board member; Mike Parker, EBCI Destination Marketing director; Camille Ferguson, AIANTA executive director; and Paula Wojtkowski, EBCI Secretary of Commerce. (AIANTA photo)


ALBUQUERQUE, NM  – Honoring the best in Indian Country tourism, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) presented five awards on Wednesday, Sept. 19 during its annual Enough Good People Awards ceremony.  The Qualla Boundary, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was named Tribal Destination of the Year which “honors a destination that encompasses the following: excellent customer service, visitor-friendly destination, authentic cultural heritage experience(s) and amenities for visitors”.

The awards ceremony, staged during AIANTA’s 20th Anniversary American Indian Tourism Conference, honors individuals, tribes and tribal tourism businesses and organizations that help build tourism in Indian Country, show excellence in tourism hospitality or showcase Indian Country as a destination.

During the ceremony, AIANTA also presents the Enough Good People Award to individuals who have supported and contributed to the success of AIANTA’s mission to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.

Other awards included:

  • Best Cultural Heritage Experience Award – Indian Summer Festival, Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Excellence in Customer Service Award – Suquamish Museum, Suquamish, Wash.
  • Enough Good People Awards – Ed Hall, helped design the tourism program under the BIA and establish the BIA’s outreach and support to tribal capacity building for tribal tourism and trade; and Ethel Makinen, lead instructor at the Sitka Native Education Program, whose work assisted the Sheet’Ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Dancers achieve national recognition as they participated in tribal festivals across the country.

“We are delighted to honor such diligent champions of tourism in Indian Country,” said Camille Ferguson, AIANTA Executive Director. “It’s through their vision, passion and commitment that our economies grow, and our communities and cultures prosper.”

The Enough Good People Awards Program was created in 2013 to recognize individuals who have supported and contributed to the success of AIANTA’s mission. Salish elder Louis Adams put it best: “Through all the fits and starts, challenges and triumphs, we never doubted that good things would happen because there were in every situation enough good people to push or pull or argue us through the next step.”

– AIANTA release