Visit Native California Launches in Palm Springs with Tribal Support
On Sept. 14, the Visit Native California initiative was introduced at day-long press conference and media event that started at the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indian’s new Cultural Plaza in Palm Springs. The initiative is a collaboration with the state’s 109 federally recognized tribes to promote American Indian tourism in the Golden State. The program is funded by a noncompetitive grant received by Visit California as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta, Director of the Yurok Economic Development Corporation Raymond Bacon, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Chairman Reid Milanovich, and American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association CEO Sherry L. Rupert.
Coverage of the Visit Native California media event generated more than 670 stories with a reach of 724 million readers, reflecting strong interest in American Indian tourism. Highlights include coverage by AFAR, AP News, Desert Sun and The Points Guy.
When the program formally launches in March 2023, it will be anchored by a dedicated content portal VisitCalifornia.com. This will host blogs, podcasts, itineraries and more to promote the state’s cultural centers, museums, parks, trails, festivals and hotels where travelers can experience California’s Native heritage.
The media launch event featured Native American musical performances, cuisine and examples of the tourism experiences on offer to visitors. The event featured Me-Wuk singing and storytelling as well as dance performances by regulars at Oakland’s Indigenous Red Market street fair.
The Young Family, who frequent Oakland’s Indigenous Red Market, performed at the media event luncheon.
The media event also showcased Native farm-to-table cuisine. Lunch was prepared by Chef Crystal Wahpepah, an Oakland native and member of the Kickapoo nation. Wahpepah runs Oakland restaurant Wahpepah’s Kitchen and is rapidly gaining celebrity as an ambassador for Native cooking. The event also featured a farm-to-table dinner by women of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians who run Temalpakh Farm, wine provided by native winemaker Kitá Wines and beer from the Yurok-owned Mad River Brewing.
Media were treated to an unforgettable dinner at Temalpakh Farm in Coachella.
In addition to expanding the reach of cultural experiences, Visit Native California will be an opportunity to deepen the tourism industry’s commitment to sustainability and responsible travel in partnership with the state’s tribes. Carlos Geisdorf of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, who performed at the event, offers guided hikes on which he shares his knowledge of Me-Wuk history and the natural landscape. Members of the Yurok tribe displayed a 20-foot redwood canoe they use for guided tours of the Klamath river, which runs through their ancestral land. The tribe recently signed a memorandum of understanding with California State Parks to integrate Yurok forest management techniques that can prevent wildfires and access the land for traditional cultural practices.
A Yurok redwood canoe on display at the media event.