alexis bunten on indigenous capitalism and tourism


Alexis Celeste Bunten, ‘More like Ourselves: Indigenous Capitalism through Tourism’, The American Indian Quarterly 34, 3 2010, pp. 285-311.

In lieu of an abstract, here is a preview of the article.

In the most remote and beautiful parts of the world where much of the world’s rural Indigenous populations still live, sustainable tourism is presented as an economic panacea for communities whose traditional economies and ways of life have been compromised by the dominant societies to which they belong. Indigenous communities are responding to this opportunity (or threat, depending on perspective) in unique and innovative ways that set them apart from their non-Indigenous counterparts. In an edited volume on the topic of Indigenous tourism Nelson Graburn and I defined it as “any service or product that is a) owned and operated at least in part by an Indigenous group and b) results from a means of exchange with outside guests.”  Some of these businesses may not appear to stray far from non-Indigenous-owned tourism in terms of products offered, but their company ethos reflects the values that set apart Indigenous-owned tourism from its mainstream counterparts. Through a comparison of Indigenous-owned cultural tourism businesses in southeastern Alaska and New Zealand as well as secondary data examining Indigenous tourism across the Pacific, this article introduces the concept of “Indigenous capitalism” as a distinct strategy to achieve ethical, culturally appropriate, and successful Indigenous participation within the global economy.

Indigenous peoples have been involved with tourism since they first hosted guests through exploratory and early colonial encounters, yet Indigenous ownership and control of such venues is a relatively new phenomenon worldwide. Indigenous tourism encompasses a wide range of experiences, including cultural tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, gaming, resorts, and other related services. Most Indigenous tourism venues are less than a decade old, made possible largely through increased communications technology, the rapid expansion of the international tourism industry, and neoliberal government

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