ecoDestinations Western US: Go Native America

ecoDestinations Western US: Go Native America

Go Native America

Sarah Chapman, Go Native America

Could you describe the experience of developing the relationships which serve as the foundation for your tours?

 

Relationships in Native America are built on trust – a lot of it! It takes time to create the kind of relationships you need in order to know that everyone – guide and client – will be happy with their time spent together. Most of our guides come to us through recommendation – we don’t advertise positions ever, but the familial structures within native communities are a huge strength when we are looking for new people. Over 15 years we have spent huge amounts of time on the road, meeting, greeting, sitting down and eating with, and taking tours from prospective GNA guides. Now we have a core team with outstanding abilities; they are gracious, helpful with clients, and who ooze traditional cultural and historic knowledge. When we are looking for new guides, they are our first call… “who do YOU think could do your job?

 

We have met many guides over the years who, in our view, are simply too eager to please, and will go with whatever the client wants (or they THINK they want). So for example, our guides know we expect them to be true to themselves and their own culture. They don’t have a set spiel they have to deliver or uphold, they answer questions honestly from their hearts, and we prepare all our visitors to know that they are welcome to ask anything they like, but should not feel badly at all if their guide tells them he cannot give them particular information for cultural reasons.

 

Our guides know that Go Native America does not condone in any way, selling of, or participation in traditional ceremonies. We are absolutely against participation in sweatlodges etc. There is NO situation in which it is appropriate for a religious ceremony to become a vacation activity and our guides all know we will support them 100%. By being very clear about our policies, our visitors also enjoy a level of trust with us – they know we are not going to sell them a tourist trip, but rather an experience of authentic traditional values, culture and history, which by it’s very nature satisfies their own need for fair trade and eco-practices. The Native way is about the giveaway – everyone gives, therefore everyone receives and native ecology is legendary.

 

"Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten" (Cree prophesy).

 

Go Native America has been awarded Responsible Tourism Award (Best Conservation of Cultural Heritage) Highly Commended, 2007, and has been recognized as one of National Geographic Traveler's "Top 50 Tours of Your Lifetime"

 

>> See Go Native America's member profile

 

 

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