FAQ

What is AIANTA?

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) is the only national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization representing, supporting and expanding tribal tourism in the United States. We encourage tribal efforts to perpetuate their unique cultures while diversifying and growing their economies. AIANTA created NativeAmerica.Travel to share the unique experiences available to travelers throughout Indian Country. For more information about AIANTA, please visit aianta.org/Mission.aspx.

How can I support tribal tourism development?

NativeAmerican.travel is the leading travel resource for travelers planning trips to native destinations, and for tribes and native enterprises looking to grow Indian Country tourism as a means of economic development. You can support tribal tourism development by donating to AIANTA. Donations support tourism training and capacity-building programs which contribute to the economic well-being of tribal destinations.

Which term is preferred, American Indians or Native Americans?

Both terms are generally acceptable, although many individuals have a preference. “American Indians” refers specifically to indigenous people of the lower 48 states while “Native Americans” includes Alaska Natives as well. Native Hawaiians are not considered to be “Indian” and are their own unique people. "Indian Country" is the term most commonly used to refer to the homeland of Native Americans.

How many tribes are there?

There are 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages. A federally recognized tribe is an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that has a recognized government-to-government relationship with the U.S. In addition, there are more than 60 state-recognized tribes, which allows for a degree of self-determination at the state level but not at the federal level.

How many Native Americans are there in the U.S.?

There are 5.2 million Native Americans and Native Alaskans living in the U.S., including those of more than one race. This represents 2% of the total U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau 2013). Enrolled members of federally recognized tribes make up less than half that number, at 1.98 million (Bureau of Indian Affairs, 2005), and more than 70% of American Indians live off tribal lands.

What is Indian Country?

Indian Country refers to the many self-governing Native American communities in the U.S., including Native American reservations and trust lands. Federally recognized tribes and the United States have a government-to-government relationship. They are able to make and enforce laws, determine membership, and license and regulate activities in their jurisdictions.  Native Americans are also United States citizens and have the right to vote.

Where is Indian Country?

More than 56 million acres make up Indian Country, an area that when combined would be roughly the size of Great Britain. This area is spread across 326 Indian lands, including reservations, rancherias, pueblos and villages. The largest is the 16-million-acre Navajo Nation Reservation that stretches across three states in the Southwest, and the smallest is a 1.3-acre parcel in California where the Pit River Tribe’s cemetery is located. Many smaller reservations are less than 1,000 acres in size. Some reservations represent tribes’ ancestral lands while others were created by the federal government to forcibly resettle Native Americans away from their homelands. Not all federally recognized tribes have reservations.

Do Native Americans share a common language?

Hundreds of languages were once spoken among indigenous people of North America, but today English is the most common language and is used at home, school and work. American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians come from many different cultures with their own languages, passed down through oral tradition over thousands of years. Today, about 200 of these languages remain, but many have only a handful of speakers. Several tribes are working to revitalize their languages and increase the number of speakers among their members.

What is there to do in Indian Country besides gambling?

About a third of federally recognized Native American tribes have gaming operations, but there is much more to experience in Indian Country. Come meet the people behind the adobe dwellings of the Southwest, the buffalo herds of the Northern Plains, the exquisitely carved totems of Alaska, and all the Indian Country in between. Native American geography and heritage is diverse and very much alive, offering visitors a multitude of authentic experiences grounded in history. While many tribes continue to face economic hardships as a result of historical injustices, Native Americans are proud people with many stories to tell.

Can I visit any reservation?

Many reservations welcome visitors and have recreational, historical and cultural sites and events to share with the public. All of the attractions, activities and lodgings listed on NativeAmerica.Travel are open to the public. Other tribes prefer not to have tourists, or require that visitors register at a tribal office. When in doubt, call ahead to the tribal government office to understand if and where visitors are welcome. When visiting any reservation, you are considered a guest and should respect the privacy of the residents and adhere to the tribe’s laws.

How can I purchase authentic American Indian and Alaska Native arts and crafts?

Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, all American Indian and Alaska Native art and craft products must be marketed truthfully regarding the Native American heritage and tribal affiliation of the artist or craftperson. To ensure that you are buying authentic art, following these buying tips:

  • Request a written guarantee or written verification of authenticity
  • Get a receipt that includes all the vital information about your purchase, including price, maker and maker’s Tribal affiliation
  • Realize that authentic handmade pieces may be expensive…if a price seems too good to be true, be sure to ask more questions about the item and its maker

These tips are provided by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB). For more tips, please download the IACB brochure and visit their website for additional publications and a directory of authentic arts and crafts sources.

Indian Country needs your help to prevent fraudulent, deptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace. The IACB refers valid complains about violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Actto the FBI for investigation and to the Department of Justice for legal action. To file a complain under the Act, call the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, U.S.Department of the Interior, toll free at 1-888-ART-FAKE (1-888-278-3253), or use the online complaint form at www.iacb.doi.gov

What else should I know before I go?

Native Americans live like anyone else in the U.S. with few exceptions and do not live in traditional dwellings or wear traditional regalia outside of celebrations or ceremonies. Most are happy to share information about their culture if asked respectfully. There are some reservations that do not allow alcohol or have restrictions on photography – it is always a good idea to ask about the local laws beforehand. Although local customs vary, dressing modestly, listening when elders are speaking and leaving artifacts where they lie will help ensure that you are not disrespecting the local norms.  

How can I sign up a tribe or native-owned tourism business?

Tribal administrators can add content their tribe's webpage on NativeAmerica.travel and managers of native-owned tourism businesses can create attraction and accommodation listings. The first step is to become a partner by registering for free: www.nativeamerica.travel/admin. This registration page can also be accessed through the Manage Your Tribe Page or Add an Accommodation/Attraction links in the footer of the website or by clicking "Sign Up" in the top right hand corner of the page. Once approved as an editor, users can begin submitting content for publication. For any questions, email registration@nativeamericatravel.com.