Bill to Promote Indian Country Tourism Advances

Feb 23, 2017

The road leading to the Little Big Horn Battlefield in southeastern Montana.
Credit National Park Service

Tourism opportunities can be better promoted in Indian country, said Senator Lea Whitford of Cut Bank.  Her Senate Bill 309 seeks to make sure Native voices are included on the Tourism Advisory Council and there’s money to help promote Indian Country because there is more to see than teepees and powwows.

Whitford said there’s also casinos, campgrounds, trails, fishing, heritage centers, museums, and art galleries.  

“We also participate and would like to showcase other contemporary events such as Indian relay races. People love that. We have horse races. Our communities are very much into the horse culture,” she said.

This includes the Indian National Finals Rodeo.

“So we want to work together,” she said it is a matter of making sure the private sector from Indian Country is on the Tourism Advisory Council. “We want to help one another we want to help our communities by recommending things to do, places to go, places to eat and places to enjoy.”

Stuart Doggett of the Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association supported adding another member to the Tourism Advisory Group. His organization was only opposed to diverting money from the state’s bed tax.

“We like the current allocation,” he said.  “We do not want to have legislation that changes the allocation without a deeper look at this.”

Shortly after the hearing on Senate Bill 309, the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee took executive action. The panel amended this bill to reduce the amount of money for promotion and then passed the bill. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.