Most people who travel with Go Native America have never traveled Indian Country before so they have lots of questions.
And we have plenty of answers so you know what to expect before you arrive
- Do I need a passport to go onto the reservation?
- Do people prefer the term Native American or Indian?
- Are Native American Indians friendly – am I welcome?
- Are the reservations safe for travelers?
- Can I add extra nights to my tour?
- Can I take a part trip instead of the full itinerary?
- What is the weather like in Montana and Wyoming?
Other places to get answers are:
Do I need a passport to go onto the reservation?
No, but there a people a-plenty who think it is a shame Indians didn’t instigate an immigration policy early in their history which could have circumnavigated the present-day mess!
Do people prefer to be called Native American or Indian?
That one is easy…usually neither! ‘Indian’ may be the way most Indian’s describe themselves, and often each other, but actually the description harks back to when a disorientated Columbus thought he had reached India, and therefore called native people ‘Indians’. Native American is a term that is undermined when some Americans point out that they were born here and therefore are also native to America. Actually the best way to go is to specify the nation. For example, if you are English, you prefer that description to someone calling you European, and you're unlikely to want to be called French, or German. So it goes with indigenous people – the Lakota nation is sovereign and totally separate to the Cheyennes, who are also sovereign and not the same as the Hopis – which is another sovereign nation who prefer not to be confused with Kiowas…and so forth…
Are Native American Indians friendly – will I feel welcome in their lands?
Indian communities are made up of all kinds – as with all communities - and traveling alone you should probably be ready to encounter odd unfriendly comments about continued white encroachment on Indian lands, or for people to lapse into their native language to exclude you, etc etc. It happens, and often it’s not just olde-time history that causes it, modern experiences with tourists can leave some people feeling pretty sour too. I have heard awful tales about tourists even popping their heads through people’s front doors on the reservation and asking if they can come in and look around! With Go Native America we are taking you to places and people where you are not just welcome, you are invited.
The people you will meet know us well – they are friends, colleagues and family and they know what Go Native America is about.
They welcome the opportunity to meet and share with our visitors.
Are the reservations safe for travelers?
Wouldn’t it be good if you didn’t have to give safety a thought? You do! Please do not be lulled by the stereotypical images of noble peaceful peoples who carry the answers to all this world’s problems within their culture. On the whole you can feel safe in Indian country, but traveling alone you do have to consider normal safety precautions as with any destination you travel!
Traveling with Go Native America know that you will be looked after and we would never put any tour member in an unsafe situation. Please listen to your guides and they will give you the best possible advice as necessary.
Can I add extra nights to my tour?
Sure you can. Often people come in early to relax from the flight before the start of the journey. Some stay on for a few days after and often avail themselves of a privately guided tour arranged by Go Native America. We are always happy to help with extra hotel bookings.
Can I take a part trip instead of the full itinerary?
You can’t join any trip part way into the itinerary, but you can leave early although we don’t recommend that you do; partly because having to go early will be very hard on you, and probably the rest of the group too. Our groups are very friendly. Also bear in mind that because we cannot
pro-rate part trips, you would be liable for the full fee since we could not invite another tour member to join for the days you were not staying.
Can I bring my kids?
Depends on which trip. We don’t encourage kids under 16 on the fully guided 10-14 day tours. The information load is high, the road travel is great for adults who want to relax and unwind, but active kids don’t usually enjoy that aspect of the journey. But if you are planning to take the family on a custom adventure you will all have a great time – the activities are designed to cater to the whole family and we welcome kids with open arms.
What is the weather like in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota?
Well locals say if you don’t like the weather here, wait 10 minutes… simultaneously assuring you that the Wyoming wind isn’t always like this…sometimes it blows from the other direction! Jokes apart, the Great Plains are a vast expanse of land where conditions can change quickly. We expect it temperate in May, most of June, July heats up, August can be hot (but a dry heat - much easier to manage than what you generally experience in Europe) and September and October are just great.
However, add climate change to the pot, and no-one can guarantee anything anymore.
What are your policies on smoking and drinking?
No smoking on the vehicles or during talks from speakers; please be thoughtful towards non-smokers who dread the moment a smoker, standing on the step of the van just before departure, inhales his last puff deeply to savor the effects…and exhales into the van.
Alcohol – not on the bus please, and remember the reservations are dry so we ask you to respect the wishes, traditions and ordinances of the tribes regarding alcohol on their lands.
How should I tip in the US
15% is a rough ideal in restaurants, but it is not an exact science and maybe it’s good to put yourself in the position of your server who relies on tips to supplement dreadful wages (often less than £3 p/h).
Some of the worst delays we ever experience on the road happen when groups decide to eat at a large table, don’t pre-warn the server that they want separate tickets, then try to work out their exact ‘debt’ from the large bill and pay it, to the penny, into a kitty. To expedite everyone’s experience, please be prepared to approximate on occasion – it’s only money, and its pennies here and there!
And remember to calculate your tip – group bills usually have the tip already worked in, so the person who hands over the cash can finish up paying the 15% over the odds out of their own pocket.
Will there be internet access while on the road ?
Many hotels have wireless access in the western states. However, they don’t all have computers – they often expect the traveler to bring their own…and we ask you not to. We won’t have room for an extra bag, we can’t guarantee the safety of a laptop in a vehicle and unless you want to carry it about all day, it will get terribly hot left in the van.
What about my cell phone?
Most years people sign up with their own phone service for mobile international calls before they arrive here and probably pay a chunk for it, but we have yet to meet a single European whose cell phone coverage works in WY, SD or MT. The only person we ever saw actually conversing on a mobile had hired it at the airport at £8 p/d plus minutes - pricey. Using a European service here is usually expensive too, and anyways, cell phone coverage areas are sparse outside of the towns. Best advice – don’t bother.
Should I bring gifts for the Native people I’ll be meeting?
Please feel free – people everywhere love to receive gifts, and something that is from where you live…maybe cookies or candy, tea, coffee or other such items from your own corner of the world are always appreciated. However, this is NOT OBLIGATORY! You don’t need to bring sage, cedar or tobacco offerings. When those are appropriate for elders, your group leader will usually do that on behalf of the group.
When should I book my flights?
Please do not book any flight without consulting with Sarah first. We need to be sure your trip has been confirmed as departing (most are), and we want to know there are no mistakes in the times or destinations. It’s easy to make a mistake and costly to correct it. It’s also important to be sure your flights work with our plans. If you can save yourself £10 by flying via Reykjavik and Outer Mongolia, but doing so means you have to leave for the airport by 4 am, everyone else may also have to…which will make you highly unpopular!
When will my journey be confirmed as departing?
As soon as we have the minimum number of people required for a journey, Sarah will be in touch regarding your flight bookings. IF the journey you chose cannot run due to lack of numbers, we will consult with you and arrange a place for you on your second choice journey.
Do I need to bring a sleeping bag, or towels?
No, remember we want you to travel light? Of course there are facilities and amenities at all the hotels we stay at.
If you don't find your answer here in FAQs, try checking the dossier for your chosen journey (downloadable on each trip page)
Still curious about something? Please call Sarah on 1.406.850.3747 or email here.