Wisconsin tribes join to promote tourism

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By Jana Hollingsworth -- Duluth News-Tribune, Minn.

DULUTH, Minn. (MCT) - The 11 American Indian communities of Wisconsin don't mind visitors. They've even put together a magazine aimed at luring tourists to their parts of the state.

''Native Wisconsin,'' published twice a year for the past three years, is a rare publication, said Kirby Metoxin, special events coordinator for the Oneida Nation of Green Bay, Wis.

''I believe we are the only state where all the tribes are working collectively to put an issue like that together,'' he said.

The magazine dedicates about three pages to each of the 11 communities from six tribes. Information on natural resources, culture, events and lodging is included. A layout is given to each, and they fill the pages according to the theme.

Because each tribe is involved with production, historical facts and tribal customs and places are portrayed correctly, said Gloria Cobb, deputy director for economic development for the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, which produces the magazine with the Native American Tourism of Wisconsin Advisory Committee.

About 150,000 copies are produced each issue, with some going to Wisconsin's tourism department and some to tribes. Metoxin said the publication, which is shared at gaming and other conferences nationwide, is usually the most requested publication from the tourism department.

''It's kind of been an eye-opener for tribes,'' he said. ''I don't think tribes realize, with tourism, it's the No. 1 revenue-generating business in the world. Almost every tribe today has a hotel, resort or camping resort.''

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa near Bayfield has experienced a surge in tourism because of the magazine. Red Cliff marketing manager Paulette Gordon said she's seen interest from both business travelers and tourists.

''This is the point of information where they heard about us,'' she said.

Gordon has been working with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce to get a magazine started in Minnesota, but said she wasn't sure when it would happen.

It's important for tribes to have such an outlet, because it allows them to promote themselves comfortably, she said.

''From Sioux to Chippewa, they all have distinction,'' she said. ''This is a way to promote what they are willing to share without exploiting their culture.''

Some traditions are too sacred to share publicly. ''I don't think any tribe in the United States goes too in-depth with their traditional ceremonies,'' Metoxin said.

The Oneida, for example, have some ceremonial masks that they wouldn't photograph for the magazine.

''They're not supposed to be displayed because they are for ceremonial purposes,'' he said.

He appreciates that each tribe determines the content for its pages.

''We all dress different, speak different, have different foods, different customs,'' he said.

The educational piece included in each magazine is important to Gordon.

''It makes sure people are more aware and they can kind of put the kibosh to some of the preconceived notions that people have about tribal organizations,'' she said.

Copyright (c) 2007, Duluth News-Tribune, Minn. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.