Re-enactment as decolonial work: Jeff Wahl, Tazim Jamal, ‘Resisting Domination and “Cultural Imperialism” Through Direct Indigenous Participation in Historical Reenactments’, Travel and Tourism Research Association: Advancing Tourism Research Globally, 28, 2020


Excerpt: Indigenous Tourism is a worldwide phenomenon that faces unique opportunities and challenges (Whitford & Ruhanen, 2016). Within the United States, Indigenous peoples (Native Americans) have endured different forms of discrimination through a complex settler-colonial history, and tourism’s role is not exempt. Development has willingly and unwillingly drawn Native Americans into cultural tourism activity (Markowitz, 2001), with numerous attendant issues including superficial guest-host interactions, the perpetuation of stereotypes like the “noble savage” (Laxson, 1991), omission from interpretive narratives (Pretes, 2003), and the destruction of sacred lands (Markowitz, 2001). While efforts towards more “sustainable” Indigenous tourism outcomes have included participatory forms tribally-involved tourism management (Browne & Nolan, 1989; Fletcher, Proff, & Brueckner, 2016; Piner & Paradis, 2004; Spencer, 2010), Native Americans remain a marginalized group whose cultural heritage has generally been misrepresented by dominant groups and other, more powerful, heritage stakeholders (Loewen, 2010). Despite decades of research, tourism studies have done little to address, “the socio-economic disadvantage faced by indigenous people who are still hindered by (among other things) the legacies of colonial history, ineffective and misguided government policies, and a lack of access to education, health services and employment” (Whitford and Ruhanen, 2016, p. 1083). Further, normative research examining the outcomes of Native American tourism are lacking (Whitford & Ruhanen, 2016). Case studies proliferate but as with many case studies in tourism, they rarely address more fundamental questions that can help inform just outcomes for Indigenous heritage tourism. Important questions lie unanswered, like how and why diverse ethical values arise in tourism development, and whose ethical values should/should not be taken into account (Smith, 2009). This study explores some of these issues in the context of heritage tourism, specifically, Indigenous-managed historical reenactments.

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