How are Indigenous women changing the narrative in tourism?

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By George Stone, TRAVEL Executive Editor

“Most people have a desire to connect to the land. ... They’re seekers. They just don’t know it,” says Brenda Holder, speaking about teaching travelers the age-old plant wisdom of Indigenous cultures. Holder is part of a new wave of tourism leaders in Canada working to connect curious visitors to the knowledge and history of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people.

Long marginalized by the tourism sector, Indigenous communities are helping shape the future of Canada’s travel industry and, in doing so, are bringing their own narratives to the mainstream, reports Jessica Prupas in our story about the rising profile of the country’s Indigenous-owned travel businesses.

“There used to be a sort of ‘pan-Indianism’ promoted in Canadian tourism that contributed to stereotypes about Indigenous people,” says Marilyn Yadultin Jensen, of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. Things are changing now, thanks to partnerships with the government, industry, and provincial communities.

Indigenous tour operators, including Holder—who shares knowledge from her Cree heritage on tours of rural Alberta through her company Mahikan Trails—and Tracey Klettl, Brenda’s sister and the owner of Painted Warriors, which offers outdoor adventure tours, are among an emerging cohort challenging stereotypes and making a difference. (Pictured above, Klettl demonstrating during a tour how Indigenous hunters use a bow and arrow.)

Cheyenne Hackett, who is of Homalco First Nation descent and leads British Columbia-based experiences from Klahoose Coastal Adventures, performs a Women’s Warrior Song before each of her tours. The haunting prayer is sung over the slow heartbeat of her drums; it marks the decades-long epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. “We’re losing our voices, and our communities just want to be heard,” Hackett says.

Read more about Indigenous British Columbia, home to more than 200 distinct nations, in our Best of the World 2021 special. And check out 24 other amazing places that will inspire your future journeys. (Pictured below, Dora Blondin hangs trout from Great Bear Lake in a teepee in Deline, Northwest Territories. On tours, visitors learn from local guides how to harvest, filet, and smoke fish.)

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Today in a minute

Arecibo collapse: An iconic radio telescope in Puerto Rico that was critical in our understanding of the heavens has been destroyed. A suspended equipment platform fell hundreds of feet and crashed through the giant radio dish this morning, Nat Geo’s Nadia Drake reports.

An ‘easier’ Eiger? For decades, many adventurers climbed a treacherous mile of limestone and black ice to summit this 13,015-foot Swiss mountain. But on Saturday, a controversial cablecar will begin service, offering up to 18,000 people a day the views of the Bernese Alps. Mike MacEacheran writes how the cableway will reshape the Eiger experience.

Why open for tourists now? Some nations are doing so, despite spiking COVID-19 cases in the United States and much of Europe. “They don’t have the luxury of missing an entire season of income,” says Steve Carvell of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. Among many other destinations, Mexico and Tanzania are open, despite the chances of spreading or contracting the coronavirus there; similarly hard-hit countries such as Costa Rica have placed restrictions on tourists to prevent spread of the virus, Bruce Wallin writes for Nat Geo. Note to travelers: If you must travel now, treat a potential destination with the respect you would your family. Here’s how we recommend you prepare.

Warming up:
When juvenile sea turtles are exposed to cold water for a prolonged time they experience what is known as “cold stunning.” Forty critically endangered young Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, found stranded on Cape Cod, were flown to a Florida Keys recovery center over the weekend to to get warm and receive treatment, CNN reports. The cold shock can cause turtles to stop eating and swimming, and the goal of the Florida recovery center is to release all of the turtles back to the seas.

Rivergeddon: Overfished. Overtouristed. That’s the story of the dark blue, rock-stuffed Madison River, rushing down the Yellowstone Plateau, the New York Times reports. Earlier this month, Montana capped the number of guided fishing and rafting trips along the Madison, though critics say the changes will not do much to stop the flood of newcomers and visitors. “The pandemic has exacerbated it,” says Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus, whose city has seen a startling rise in real-estate prices. “We’ve been growing a lot, but it took off this year. They are fleeing big urban areas for the amenities."

Your Instagram of the day

Broom grass season: Cooler temperatures in Japan bring kokia’s bright red leaves. Kokia, also called broom grass, is used to make a flat broom. Photographer Takashi Nakazawa, who has made hundreds of trips to photograph Mount Fuji (in the background above), captured this burgeoning of kokia at Oishi Park, near Lake Kawaguchi.

Related: See majestic Mount Fuji over seven years from the lens of one photographer

The big takeaway

Before you go: What are the best compact cameras out there? Every year, our photo engineer Tom O’Brien shares his picks for capturing your next great journey, whether it’s abroad or in your backyard. “While 2020 hasn’t brought massive changes in camera manufacturing, there are some excellent new models and helpful updates to discover,” Tom writes. (Pictured above, taking images with lightweight cameras outside the Louvre in Paris.)

Overheard at Nat Geo

Bred for money: That’s what critics say about captive tigers in the United States, which outnumber tigers in the wild. National Geographic Channel’s Mariana van Zeller has investigated tiger trafficking and how private animal parks often encourage a cycle of breeding and mistreatment. She watched tiger cubs being handed from lap to lap, with each tourist at one private wildlife center having paid $500 to hold them. One cub was handed to her during her investigation, and she was extremely discomfited, she told Peter Gwin on today’s episode of our podcast, Overheard. (Pictured above, Clay, Daniel, and Enzo, three of 39 tigers rescued from an animal park in Oklahoma, gather at a pool at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.)

In a few words

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One last glimpse

Remembering Jan Morris: Kindness, kinship, a sense of fun, a love of Wales. That’s what readers gleaned in the prose of historian and travel-writing giant Jan Morris, who died at age 94. It was Morris, at a base camp in Everest, who broke the news that Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit in 1953. Although best known for her writing around the world, Morris (pictured above) was prompted by the joys of home to write A Writer’s House in Wales, published in 2002 by National Geographic. Morris described her small place, Trefan Morys, as “a summation, a metaphor, a paradigm, a microcosm, an exemplar, a multum in parvo, a demonstration, a solidification, an essence, a regular epitome of all that I love about my country."

This newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard, and Jen Tse selected the photographs. Kimberly Pecoraro and Gretchen Ortega helped produce this. Have an idea or a link? We'd love to hear from you at david.beard@natgeo.com . And thanks for reading!

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