Hospitality Trends and Indian Gaming

For Indian gaming, hospitality trends include highlighting our Native culture and history, which is a unique aspect that only tribal communities can offer to the world. Today’s gaming consumers are looking for memorable experiences that set their visit to one property apart from another. Although there are countless factors affecting gaming trends—for Indian gaming, factors such as culture, history and experiential opportunities with traditional food, dance, art, music and entertainment are among the most sought after.

Native culture is a part of life for Indian country residents. As a result, it is an easy trend to incorporate into the Indian gaming experience. Our Native American culture is part of who we are as a people, and it guides our daily routines. It’s been shown that Native American culture is one of the most studied and inquired about by foreign visitors. Implementing pieces of tribal culture, such as language, art and cuisine, provides a way to educate Indian gaming customers while offering an authentic cultural experience during their time at our properties.

Culture buffs and travelers are looking for unique experiences while foodies—another subset of the tourism market—are looking for gourmet and traditional food experiences that meet their discerning tastes. Cross promoting among our gaming properties, resorts and cultural museums is a chance to increase visibility to our other tribal enterprises.

Indian gaming patrons have opportunities to experience some of the most colorful exhibitions of Native American dance when they attend the many Pow-wows that are offered in the Indian country circuit throughout the year and are often in close approximation to our casino properties. Pow-wows are social gatherings that include drumming, singing, competitive dancing and feasting. Many of our local vendors and craftsman are available at these events to sell beadwork, leather goods, art, basketry, jewelry, clothing and much more.

Past federal policies of assimilation and relocation sought to suppress Native language, culture and religion. Native Americans fought back and tribal culture has persevered. Today, revenues from Indian gaming are helping to further foster Native language, culture and identity. In this regard, tribes are educating not only public policymakers, but also the general public—including our customers—about the positive impacts that Indian gaming revenues are making in Indian country. Indian gaming is an exercise of true self-determination by tribal governments. Indian gaming dollars are working to begin to reverse more than a century of injustices inflicted by past failed federal policies.

Indian gaming dollars are funding the construction of tribal history museums. From reservations in Connecticut to Minnesota to California and throughout Indian country, tribal museums serve to not only preserve our culture, but also educate the public by telling the unique stories of our Native history. The museums also share our language, music, dances, traditional architecture and other traditional activities. Many museums are connected to our gaming operations and truly serve to round out the experience of our gaming customers.

Another feature that Indian gaming offers is our unique Native cuisine. In recent years, Native foods have been getting well-deserved attention with the rise in the popularity of locally sourced foods. Our seasonal harvests and regional foods are distinctive to our tribes and often represent tribal philosophy. A perfect example is the offerings of my tribe, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, through a program called “Tsyunhehkw^,” which means life sustenance and shares our teachings of the Three Sisters. Corn, beans and squash are planted together in collaboration to provide life sustenance for the people. Each provides an element of support, to allow each entity to grow. The Three Sisters showed our ancestors the value of creating an environment to maximize our sustenance. Following the teaching of the Three Sisters, we work to create a structure of collaboration and support for people of all nations to flourish. The opportunity to offer our valued guests these traditional experiences through cuisine and other means is priceless.

As we did in the past, we must adapt with the times to not only persevere but also remain an industry leader. Our tribal gaming operators are highlighting the unique and natural opportunities that come with opening our homelands to visitors while incorporating trends of the future. The one-of-a-kind experiences that we offer our guests underscore our culture, traditions and historic practices and are the most memorable in the industry.

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