Note: Video feed from Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will begin shortly before 2:30pm Eastern on May 12, 2021.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks at COVID-19 and tourism
Wednesday, May 12, 2021

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The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is taking another look at the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.

An oversight hearing on Wednesday afternoon focuses on the coronavirus and Native tourism economies. The committee will hear from federal officials and Native witnesses from the tourism sector, which took a significant hit when COVID-19 led to the closure of gaming facilities, businesses, museums and other enterprises in Native communities.

“As we emerge from the devastating impact of COVID-19, tourism to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism destinations has a bright future that lies in the more than one billion leisure travelers in the world, and the interest of domestic travelers and international visitors in the American Native cultures and what their communities offer— memorable and unique experiences, warm hospitality and unusual landscapes,” Sherry Rupert, Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, tells the committee in written testimony.

The oversight hearing takes place at 2:30pm Eastern, with witnesses appearing virtually rather than in person, due to the ongoing pandemic. The session will be broadcast on

The witness list follows:

Mr. Dennis Alvord [PDF: Testimony]
Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development
U.S. Economic Development Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, DC

Mr. Anthony Rodman [PDF: Testimony]
Acting Director
Office of Indian Economic Development
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington, DC

Mr. John De Fries [PDF: Testimony]
President and Chief Executive Officer
Hawai’i Tourism Authority
Honolulu, Hawaii

Ms. Sherry Rupert [PDF: Testimony]
Chief Executive Officer
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mr. Russell Dick [PDF: Testimony]
President and Chief Executive Officer
Huna Totem Corporation
Juneau, Alaska

Previously, the committee heard from Native health experts on April 14. Witnesses explained how their organizations have been dealing with coronavirus, more than a year into the pandemic.

On April 28, the committee looked at Native education systems. The committee heard about the slow rollout of federal resources to Indian schools across the nation.

For those who can’t watch the webcast or for those who want to listen to the hearing together, Indianz.Com is hosting a room on Clubhouse, the audio-based platform. Anyone who wants to join Clubhouse can so do by following the Indianz.Com Club and setting up an account. The app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice
Oversight Hearing “Examining the COVID-19 Response in Native Communities: Native Tourism Economies One Year Later” (May 12, 2021)

Note: Thumbnail photo from Huna Totem Corporation in Alaska.
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