(L-R) Emerson Vallo, president of AIANTA; Cheryl Trask, senior manager of cultural retail and sales; Travis Owens, president of Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism; Brandi Ross, manager of strategic operations; Lori Ballew, manager of Cherokee Nation Gift Shops; Laura Foreman, gift shop manager of Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center; Sherry Rupert, AIANTA CEO; Melanie Bench, sales specialist.

VINITA, Okla. – Following its one-year anniversary, the Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center was recognized by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association as the Tribal Destination of the Year.

The Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards recognize the best of travel and cultural tourism across Native Nations and communities and are presented during the annual American Indian Tourism Conference (newly named the American Indigenous Tourism Conference).

“Preserving the culture and traditions of the Cherokee Nation has been at the forefront of our efforts at Cherokee Nation, and this site is a shining example of how we continue to champion those efforts,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “In the year since its opening, the cultural and welcome center has not only increased our visibility on historic Route 66, but also enhanced how we promote our culture to future generations. As the United States prepares for the centennial of Route 66 in 2026, the Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center will prove to be an authentic and notable attraction, welcoming visitors from across the globe.”

The Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center created a platform for the preservation and promotion of Cherokee history, art and culture on a national and international level.

Similar to the tribe’s other cultural sites, the center has a distinct voice and is dedicated to celebrating the shared histories of Cherokee Nation, the historic Cherokee community of Vinita and the accomplishments of Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, a renowned Cherokee artist known for revitalizing Cherokee pottery.

Eye-catching outdoor art installations such as “The Vessel” and the sculpture within it, “A Bundle of Seven Arrows,” draw travelers in for an authentic and immersive experience.

“Congratulations to the Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center on receiving this honor,” said AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert. “The property exemplifies AIANTA’s mission as it seeks to reach new audiences, share the authentic Cherokee story, and amplify tribal tourism within the Cherokee Nation and beyond.”

The Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center offers an exhibit gallery, a grab-and-go café with Native-inspired cuisine, a gift shop, and flexible space for cultural classes and events. It has hosted language and history classes, interactive artist demonstrations, cultural art classes, exhibit receptions, genealogy workshops and, most recently, Cherokee Nation’s first Ribbon Skirt Fashion Show. It is open to the public seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 953 E. Illinois Ave.

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