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Visit California launches new initiative highlighting Native American lands and culture | To The Point

The new initiative highlights cultural centers and natural areas to learn more about California’s many Native American tribes.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California, like many states across the U.S., is home to hundreds of Native American tribes. Each nation, tribe, and people have a vast history and bright culture.

According to Visit California, "California has the largest Native American population of any state and, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, approximately 1.4 million Californians identify as full or partially American Indian and Alaskan Native."

Visit California is looking to highlight the state’s 100+ tribes through a new initiative called "Visit Native California."

"What we're really trying to do is create a content hub that starts with our website for accessibility or one-stop shopping for visitors of all there is to do," said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. "We have 109 federally registered tribes in California, more than any other and there's so many experiences that visitors just don't realize that are part of our tribal heritage and culture that we want to bring forward for the first time ever."

Visit Native California looks to show people visiting the state, and perhaps even locals, there is more beyond beautiful resorts and casinos on Native American land.

According to Visit California's website, the initiative highlights museums and cultural centers like the new cultural plaza being built in Palm Springs encompassing the rich culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. 

It also pushes to make people aware of Mother Earth's beauty on Native lands by offering outdoor adventures, such as guided tours of the Klamath River -- the land belonging to the Yurok Tribe.

"What's most important in this initiative is that these tribal establishments are talking about educating and inspiring prospective visitors in their voice," said Beteta. "The chief of the Agua Caliente tribal nation said to me last week when we were launching this, 'This is so important to us because the opportunity to share with people around the world and communicate about our heritage actually preserves our heritage.'"

Currently, Visit California is doing the groundwork to gauge tribes' interest in being a part of the initiative. Then, if everything goes to plan, they hope to launch a content hub within the larger Visit California brand.

"While I'm talking about a content hub, contained within Visit California, that is the repository for us to coordinate all those resources," said Beteta.

She says although this initiative is just in its infancy, nothing is stopping people and visitors from getting out there and exploring Indian Country.

"These activities are here and happening today. Whether it's tasting freshly pressed olive oil from the Yocha Dehe tribe Séka Hills in Yolo County or visiting the Maidu Museum in Roseville, there's so many things that are happening right here in our area that they can partake in today," she said.

The content hub is expected to launch in early 2023. To learn more about Visit Native California, click here.

Watch: What I learned while riding in a sacred canoe | Bartell's Backroads

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