Sokaogon Chippewa Community News
NATOW Conference Strengthens Tourism Efforts
The 2019 Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW) Conference was held at the Bad River Lodge & Casino this week.
NATOW is an inter-Tribal consortium made up of the 11 federally recognized Tribes of Wisconsin. The annual conference is meant to provide an avenue for networking, educating and building partnerships based on the Native tourism business in the state of Wisconsin. According to their website, the mission of NATOW is “to promote tourism featuring Native American heritage and culture.”
The conference began with a golf outing on Monday at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club. A reception followed at the Bad River Casino Convention Center, followed by an awards ceremony.
On Tuesday, Mike Wiggins, Jr., Chairman of the Bad River Tribe, welcomed everyone to the community. Apache Danforth, NATOW Director, explained the importance of the conference, and thanked all of their partners. She also shared that the Tribes are moving away from just being Tribes with casinos to Tribes with places to see, places to go and things to do.
Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, was a guest speaker and spoke of the unique opportunity and relationship that Tribes have with the state. He stated that each Tribe offers something unique, and that it is important for the Tribes to be at the table.
When asked what he would do if he had a bigger budget, Lt. Governor Barnes replied that he would focus more on environmental tourism. Activities such as fishing, hiking, preventing and removing invasive species, improving bike and walking trails, funding mass transportation and offering more transit options were among his priorities.
“Native American tourism gives a chance to experience Native American cultures,” Lt. Governor Barnes said. “There is a world of opportunity in tourism. We want to promote all parts of Wisconsin, and promote it together.”
He then presented Tribal leadership with a plaque recognizing the efforts and importance of NATOW and Native tourism.
“It’s fun learning different marketing ideas as well. Our Tribe and casino are a sponsor of the conference every year, and NATOW is a sponsor of the Oak Lake Ice Fishing Jamboree and our June Strawberry Moon Powwow,” Kimberlee continued.
More information on the conference and the important work that NATOW does may be viewed at the NATOW website.