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Talking Stick Resort Named AIANTA Top Destination of the Year

The AIANTA Tribal Destination of the Year award Talking Stick Resort received on September 13.


Sept. 13, 2017 –

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s flagship gaming and entertainment enterprise was honored as the top destination in Indian Country.

On September 13, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) named Talking Stick Resort the 2017-18 Tribal Destination of the Year at its annual conference. The Oneida Nation, near Green Bay, Wisconsin, and its Radisson Hotel and Conference Center hosted the four-day American Indian Tourism Conference.

Talking Stick Resort received the award at the event’s award ceremony and silent auction. TSR Director of Sales Michael Maggart, SRPMIC Director of Community Relations Janet Johnson and Council member Jenelle Howard accepted the award.

“[On behalf of the SRPMIC Council], we are very honored and thankful for this award,” Howard said. “As a member of the gaming board, to me, this shows the dedication of all our employees. Thank you to all our employees doing all the work, from our executive administration on down the line. All their work paid off for this recognition.”

SRPMIC Council member Jenelle Howard addresses the audience after accepting the tourism award on behalf of the SRPMIC Council.
Johnson informed the audience about the Community’s gaming history, including the state ballot initiative. It was a welcome surprise to learn of how many people attending the conference knew of Talking Stick Resort, she said.

This is the sixth year that AIANTA presented the top destination award, and Talking Stick Resort is the first winner from Arizona.

The award-winning, AAA Four-Diamond Talking Stick Resort sits along Loop 101 on the northwestern part of the Community. Its 800 gaming slots and tables are part of a range of amenities unmatched in Scottsdale, or even Arizona. The resort is home to a hotel, a golf course, fine dining, live entertainment and a large collection of Native American art. It employs nearly 2,000 employees.

A panel of tourism-industry experts selected the award winners. The Excellence in Customer Service Award went to Donovan Hanley of Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise, and the Best Cultural Heritage Experience went to Stewart Indian School Father’s Day Powwow.

(L-R) Talking Stick Resort Director of Sales Michael Maggart, SRPMIC Director of Community Relations Janet Johnson, SRPMIC Council member Jenelle Howard, AIANTA Board of Directors Secretary James Surveyor.
“Nominees represent the standards for each award category, while also working to advance AIANTA’s mission to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values,” according to award selection information on AIANTA’s website.

AIANTA, a nonprofit started in 1999 and based in Albuquerque, is a nationally recognized organization that promotes the advancement of Indian Country tourism. About 300 people attended the conference.

For more information on AIANTA, visit