When thinking of Wisconsin tourism, you might not necessarily think of the state’s 11 sovereign tribal nations. However, Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett says Native American tourism in the Badger State is a lot more than just gaming and pow wows. While she says those are important to Native American culture and tourism, she says bison farms, fish hatcheries, and apple festivals are just a few of the many other activities Wisconsin’s tribes offer to visitors. Klett says those activities provide a fun and exciting way to learn about Native American culture, landscapes, and heritage.
Tribal tourism operates separate from Wisconsin tourism, but does work in partnership with the state and gets a yearly grant to support tourism on its reservations. Klett says only one tribe in the entire state has a tourism department and that’s the Oneida Nation. All 11 tribes are part of an organization known as Native American Tourism of Wisconsin, or NATOW. The group works together and with the state Department of Tourism, which Klett says helps promote events on Indian reservations so everyone can experience native Wisconsin.
The reservations occupy over a half million acres of forest and marsh lands, lakes and rivers in Wisconisn, according to their website. Tourism is one of the ways tribes can be self-sufficient and boost their economies.
Klett recently met with tribal leaders during the annual Tribal Consultation.