Exceptional or Exploitive

The title of the research paper I presented this weekend at the conference was called Exceptional or Exploitive: Exploring the Relationship between the Tourism Industry and Indigenous Communities. 

This project started out with my classmate Rachel and I finding an article on the Maori people in New Zealand and their recent struggle with the tourism agency Air New Zealand. We found that there were originally many Maori upset with the integration of their cultural symbols in Air New Zealand’s marketing campaigns, but that a lot of the grievances were resolved by open communication and an increase on the benefit received by the Maori tribe (Rigby et al, 2011).

After looking at this group, we decided to check out indigenous groups in other areas, to see if they had similar issues with the respective tourism agencies in their areas. We found a tribe (the Miccosukee) in Florida that expressed a very positive attitude toward the tourism agencies they were involved in. For them, this was a great way to explore and share their history and culture. This benefit outweighed any type of exploitation felt by the tribe, according to the author of this article (Wiedman, 2010). We then found an article by Alexis Bunten exploring a similar relationship in Alaska. The indigenous people were involved with the tourism agencies as well, however, they held a much more negative view of the tourism industry there. They felt much more exploited, and any benefits they received were less appreciated than their counterparts in Southern Florida (Bunten, 2011).

Our thoughts after viewing these differences of opinion is that this issue isn’t as black and white as previously assumed. Multiple factors could affect these differences, such as level of involvement, historical aspects, geographical location, and relationship between this indigenous group and the non-indigenous of the area. To further explore these differences, we decided to conduct our own case study, which will take place next summer in South Dakota. We’d like to see what the opinion is from the middle of the country, and to see what their attitude towards cultural tourism and indigenous marketing is. We’re hoping that the information collected will shine more light on why different tribes have reacted differently to the tourism agencies in their areas, both here in the U.S. and around the world.

So that’s what I’m workin on.

Works Cited because I’m scholarly:

Bunten, Alexis C. “Chapter 4: The Paradox of Gaze and Resistance in Native American Cultural Tourism: An Alaskan Case Study.” Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism. By Jonathan Skinner and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos. New York: Berghahn, (2011). Print.

Rigby, Colleen, Jens Mueller, and Andrew Baker. “The Integration of Māori Indigenous Culture into Corporate Social Responsibility Strategies at Air New Zealand.” Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness5.6 (2011): 116-26. Print.

Wiedman, Dennis. “Global Marketing of Indigenous Culture: Discovering Native America with Lee Tiger and the Florida Miccosukee.”American Indian Culture and Research Journal 34.3 (2010): 1-26. Print.

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