NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — With over $2.5 billion made annually, tourism is one of the biggest economic boosters for our state.

Now, we’re hoping to increase that even more. KX News has more from the Heritage Center.

The North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance is setting a precedent for the nation– earning the governor’s trailblazer award last year for their efforts, they say the alliance is the first organization in the country to unite all tribal nations in the state to work together for tourism.

“The whole world wants to know about the Native American cultures,” said Les Thomas, the vice president of the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. “We want them to have hands-on experiences. So, our tribes are building amenities, developing a tourism department, so that we become a family-friendly, year-round point of destination.”

To gain more understanding, the Alliance turned to a group with years of experience under their belt — the North Dakota Department of Tourism.

“It’s been nice, they included us right away when they first started working together,” said NDDOT Global Marketing Manager Fred Walker. “They wanted our perspective and wanted to know a little bit about what we’ve done.”

Now, the Alliance is applying for the Destination Development grant to create a powwow grounds at the International Peace Garden.

If awarded, the grant would give nearly $5 million to the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance for their project.

Thomas says an international peace powwow would unite all the tribal nations of North Dakota with those located in Canada, helping North Dakota gain national recognition.

“In three years, in 2026, that’s the 250-year anniversary of the constitution,” said Thomas. “If we can get this organized and built — our tribe has already put in $50,000 and I’ve already got other companies on board, and we’ve put in for a grant from the state — so if we get this built, and have this international peace powwow in the world, think of the recognition that that’s going to bring to the state of North Dakota.”

The winners of the Destination Development grant will be announced in November.