Indian Affairs announced on Oct. 19 that the Office of Indian Economic Development (OIED) has awarded Tribal Tourism grants totaling $1,512,553 to 18 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribes and Tribal organizations across the country, as well as, in cooperation with Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations (ONHR) and the National Park Service (NPS), $600,000 to two Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs).
The funds were awarded under the Tribal Tourism Grants Program (TTGP), a competitive, discretionary program administered by OIED’s Division of Economic Development. Proposals are evaluated on a variety of economic development activities related to tourism aimed at stimulating economic growth within an AI/AN community. Grants are awarded based on a proposal’s potential to create jobs for Tribal members and stimulate economies in AI/AN communities. In this solicitation, applications could also explore how a current Tribal tourism business could recover and adapt to the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the ongoing impact COVID-19 is having on the tourism industry, it is important to recognize how much more the Tribal tourism sector, which is a vital part of many Tribal economies, is suffering,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The Tribal Tourism Grant Program is one way we can aid Tribal governments and organizations in their efforts to stay open for business during this time of national crisis.”
TTGP grants enable federally recognized AI/AN Tribes and Tribal organizations to hire consultants, perform feasibility studies and/or develop business plans of proposed tourism projects. When performed by a reputable third party, an economic development feasibility study also can be used to help persuade lenders and investors to provide financial backing for a project.
A study that concludes a project is worthwhile and financially sustainable can often fulfill many of a lender’s or investor’s due diligence requirements by answering questions about a project’s chances of success, resulting in a more rapid loan approval or better loan terms. Feasibility studies can also be used to examine the credibility of a project promoter and claims made regarding a specific project.
The NHOs will utilize NATIVE Act funding in Hawaii to improve visitor experiences at a national park through the development of interpretive materials regarding Native Hawaiian place names and traditional land forms and divisions, as well as to support partner NHOs in applying historic preservation skills and knowledge so that their traditional cultural places and stories are documented, preserved, and shared. More information about these important NHO projects may be found on the ONHR website at: www.doi.gov/hawaiian.
The TTGP is funded through the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-221). On July 13, 2021, OIED published in the Federal Register a notice soliciting applications for this year’s grants.
Indian Affairs’ Office of Indian Economic Development (OIED), formerly known as the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, supports the economic development of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities by offering access to capital through grant opportunities and loan guarantees, and by providing technical assistance to Federally recognized AI/AN Tribes. To maximize economic benefits for those Tribes, OIED works in partnership with other Federal agencies including the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA). OIED administers the Tribal Tourism Grant Program through its Division of Economic Development (DED). For more information about OIED’s mission and programs, visit the OIED website.