By Catherine Whipple
JWFN, part of Greenroutes, the tourism arm of Renewing the Countryside, worked with Tribal Chair Erma Visenor and other programs at the White Earth Reservation to undertake the pilot project. Deborah McLaren, who works for JWRN, says they were initially invited to White Earth by author and activist Winona LaDuke, who had already done a tourism survey at White Earth. McLaren said start up grants from the Minneapolis Foundation and Otto Bremer were used to create Journeys with First Nations.
McLaren said the numerous small businesses and organizations were identified through public outreach, presentations, and informal visits to local businesses that want to go “green.” She said Greenroute and JWFN’s goal is to help small businesses and organizations bring tourism to their communities, with the emphasis on sustainable, environmental tourism.
JWFN is focusing specifically on tribal communities in Minnesota. According to their website, their focus is to help promote “small, unique businesses that are rooted in their communities” and “places to have fun while helping to ensure that our natural and cultural resources will be around for many generations to come.”
Instead of staying at a chain hotel and eating at a fast food restaurant, travels can stay on a local farm, visit an organic Minnesota winery, or stay at a cabin or a resort on reservation lands.