Cultural Tourism Campaign Launched by Cherokees in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

The Cherokee Nation Tourism Department unveiled a unique cultural tourism program Wednesday involving elements of historic preservation and entrepreneurialism.

The 2-year-old department announced partnerships with several regional historical organizations, such as the Fort Gibson Historic Site and the Will Rogers Museum, to create four cultural tours advertised through a new, branded campaign and the new Web site www.cherokeetourismok.com.

These Cherokee tours - ranging in subject from the Trail of Tears and Indian Territory settlement to the Civil War and Will Rogers - tout several "living history" elements that have proven tourist magnets across other parts of the nation, from Williamsburg, Va., to Dodge City, Kan.

Although many small organizations have tried to present living history programs in Oklahoma, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins said none had the resources to capture the state's vast potential.

"Not only across the country, but especially in Europe and Asia, there are many people wanting to see Native American heritage," said Askins, who heads the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission. "This effort sets the Cherokees apart."

This not only plays into the Cherokees' strength, having built a sizable regional network of casinos and hotels, but it also helps people understand the historic challenges the tribes have endured, said Molly Jarvis, vice president of marketing for Cherokee Nation Entertainment. …

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