April 03, 2011

First casino cultural concierge

America’s Only American Indian Cultural Concierge

By Lee AllenGinger Sunbird Martin knows a bit about responsibility and pressure. As the nation’s only Native American Cultural Conceirge, she acts as a representative of the 22,000 current day voices that encompass 2,300 years of existence among Arizona’s Pima/Maricopa peoples.

In her one-of-a-kind capacity at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa outside Phoenix, Sunbird Martin has a lot of bosses to answer to in her role as cultural historian, contact for the resort management company, a direct interface to tribal elders, an educator to the visiting public, and a liaison for her community at large.
And:For Sunbird Martin, there is no such thing as a standard work day although the fact that 80% of the resort’s business is group-related indicates a major area requiring her attention. “The sales team is now using me as an authentic representative of site ownership and I’ve become the closer on million dollar contracts. I’m responsible for creating on-site storytelling efforts through things like petroglyph replicas in the lobby and architectural/spiritual details like doors that face east or the prominent circular design that symbolizes the cycle of life to the Pima and Maricopa people.

“I feel like my efforts do justice to our people and our untold story,” says the young woman who grew up in a reservation mud house close to the posh resort she now looks after. “I view my job as a huge honor and my humble roots keep me grounded. I burn sage in my office every morning to keep me balanced because I’m blessed to be able to come to work and share the story of our people.”
Comment:  I don't know if "concierge" is the right term for this job. But the work Sunbird Martin is doing sounds good.

Every gaming tribe should do as much as possible to emphasize its cultural heritage. Even if it doesn't add to the bottom line.

In the long run, investing in goods and services of this type will pay off when everyone has a casino. Distinguishing tribes and tribal businesses from their nontribal counterparts is what will keep them going.

For more on the subject, see "The Cadillac of Spring Training Venues" and Gaming Tribes Must Take the Lead.

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