Real Narratives: The Culture Connection between Native American Culture and Travel Marketing

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Laffely, Gareth
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University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
The story of Native America is much like a phoenix. For thousands of years, culture soared, but it was eventually plucked out of the sky. For several hundred years the culture was stuck on the ground, and eventually appeared dead. In the last century, just like a phoenix is reborn from the ashes, Native American culture has, once again, started to fly. As we continue to foster the growth of a “culture connection” between Native communities and tourist industry marketers, there is great potential to reach new heights together. The next chapters of this story should not be dedicated to reaching into people’s wallets, but it must be dedicated to capturing hearts. Native America has tens of thou sands of stories to tell, and there is so much that is to be learned from the true, authentic legacies that many individuals have yet to hear. As we examine Native America through film, music, physical locations, art, and education, we may incorporate different forms of media to share stories with the world. Keeping a human element in mind as we push forward is essential. Native American culture must never be exploited—it must be treated with respect. The elders and storytellers have priceless insight into their own culture, which, in turn, will help us widen our views to all the cultures around us. Native America is alive today. It lives on through songs, stories, artwork, dances, foods, festivals, and everything that proceeds out of the human spirit. We are duty-bound to protect this culture that we hope to work with, and we must always seek relationships first. Marketing plans will be diverse and strong,doors will be opened that had previously been locked, and the uniqueness of this approach will gain new attention on the global stage. In the words of Penobscot elder, James Neptune, “It only takes one drop of water in a pond to create a ripple that carries across the entire pond” (Neptune 2019). The choices we make right now have the potential to spread far and wide. As we look toward the future with open eyes, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished through cultural collaboration. This study, as it is, remains just the beginning of a lifetime of efforts that we may undertake together. As cultures learn about (and from) one another, growth toward a more united future will continue. Through further research, interaction with tribal lead ers, and working with members of the international tourism industry, it is possible to de velop the “culture connection” that has been introduced in this study. Without infor mation, we cannot have knowledge, and without knowledge, wisdom can never result. This study combines wisdom from leaders within the Native American community with information that can be further developed into actionable knowledge. With this founda tion set firmly beneath our feet, we can dig in our heels and take the steps needed to walk into the future that is ahead of us.
Business, Native American culture, tourism, travel marketing, tourist industry, Native American, music, physical location, cultural tourism, culture connection