Distinguished Indigenous Leaders Lecture Series

In December of 2023, we celebrated the vibrant tapestry of Indigenous cultures and their profound connection to the land. Hosted by the International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS) at the George Washington University School of Business, a pioneering institution in native and indigenous economic development, the inaugural Distinguished Indigenous Leaders Lecture Series showcased a deepened commitment to Indigenous tourism.

Our featured speaker, Ed Hall III, appointed as the Indigenous Economic Development and Tourism Executive in Residence at IITS in late 2022, set the tone with his insightful opening remarks. Leading a distinguished panel were luminaries such as K. Denise Litz, Chief of the Division of Economic Development at the Office of Indian Economic Development; Toby Bloom, National Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation unit; and Curt Cottle, Senior Policy Analyst with the International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office.

Supported by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce, our event delved into the federal agencies instrumental in funding programs under the NATIVE Act. Wizipan Garriott, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior; Shawn Deschene, Director of Native American Business Development at the Department of Commerce; and Milo Booth, Director of Tribal Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, highlighted their agencies’ initiatives.

Shifting focus, we spotlighted beneficiaries of this legislation, featuring esteemed figures like Jamie Azure, Chairman of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota; Tamara St. John, South Dakota State Representative and member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe; and Jennifer Finley, representing the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and a member of the Montana Indigenous Tourism Alliance. Guiding this enriching discussion was Darian Morsette, President of the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance and a member of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association board.

The next annual Distinguished Indigenous Leaders Lecture Series event will be on Wednesday, November, 20, 2024. More details to come.