The Montana Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that more than $1.1 million of grant funding has been awarded to seven of Montana’s tribal nations to enhance tourism activities.
The agency said in a news release that the pilot program - Tribal Tourism Enhancement Grant (TTEG) program - encouraged each tribe to submit a competitive portfolio of projects - a ‘wish-list’ of ideas to improve, enhance, or create long-term tourism offerings to their nations. Eligible tourism projects were required to be "shovel-ready" and demonstrate long-lasting resiliency.
Seven of the eight tribal nations in the state elected to participate. Of the 33 projects evaluated, 21 were eligible for full or partial funding.
TTEG funding recipients:
- The Blackfeet Nation will receive $174,641 to improve the Buffalo Calf Interpretive Center, add toilets to Buffalo Calf and Duck Lake campgrounds, install interpretive art, offer remote car and boat rental activities, make five new Blackfeet-style tipi lodges available for rent at the campgrounds, and create a buffalo robe for display at the Center.
- The Chippewa Cree Tribes of Rocky Boy’s will receive $96,000 to purchase a spectator transport off-road vehicle for its Buffalo Tour, make electrical and lighting upgrades, and install a new public address system at the powwow grounds.
- The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians will receive $147,550 to purchase heavy equipment and landscape maintenance vehicles, make facility repairs, install essential campground amenities, and create a new fish cleaning station at the Hell Creek Recreation Area.
- The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck will receive $194,484 for the Tatanka Omaskaskan Buffalo Trail Enhancement project, to renovate the Buffalo Ranch rental facility, and make upgrades to the entrance of Fort Peck.
- The Northern Cheyenne Nation will receive $203,813 for a shade pavilion at Birney powwow grounds, a memorial statues art installation, powwow arbor improvements at Muddy and Busby districts, and improve the roads, picnic areas, restrooms, and signage at Crazy Heads Recreation Area.
- The Crow Nation will receive $90,000 for the expansion of Apsáalooke Tours with the purchase of two lift-equipped shuttle buses, and the development of print materials for tours of Battle Loop, Chief Pretty Eagle Point, Rosebud Battle, Pictograph Cave, and Chief Plenty Coups State Park.
- The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will receive $200,000 for structural and maintenance repairs at Elmo’s Standing Arrow Pavilion, dock repairs at Blue Bay Campground on Flathead Lake, and to recarpet the Arlee dance and games pavilions.
"The Tribal Tourism Enhancement Grant helped Apsáalooke Tours by giving us much-needed capital to increase our marketing efforts and purchase two new buses so we can introduce more tour routes across the Crow Indian Reservation," said Luella Brien, Crow Tribal Tourism Manager. "This is a fantastic first step in our plan to expand our offerings, which, in turn, will bring more guests to our beautiful homeland.”
The TTEG program was created due to a record amount of 2021 bed tax revenue. The program operates on a reimbursement system with no matching requirement, and presents a unique opportunity to fund numerous tourism projects across Indian Country.
“These new Tribal Tourism Enhancement Grants will help expand and diversify Montana’s tourism offerings as well as generate increased revenue as more visitors seek to experience the rich history, culture, and landscapes that are part of our Tribal Nations," said Scott Osterman, director of the Montana Department of Commerce.