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“No repeat business”

Go Native America Day Tours
Ranked #2 of 5 Tours in Billings
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Owner description: Why are Go Native America tours the best trips in Indian Country? We have been touring and exploring the Great Plains and the Southwest with our guests since 1995. We know our stuff, all our guides are all-indigenous and we help you experience things you couldn't do for yourself.Our Native American tours are highly personalized and there is an exciting atmosphere on each and every tour.We are the best because we get how it feels to come into Native American Indian Country for the first time and we're going to make sure your tour is unique and memorable - full of amazing experiences and all in line with tribal etiquette.You can join our native guides for day tours at sacred sites, cultural places and historical venues in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, or join 7-14 day escorted tours throughout the West, Alaska, Hawaii and we specialize in wolf and grizzly watching in the Greater Yellowstone region. We also run horseback rides on the Little Bighorn Battlefield and trips to Indian Reservations too.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

The guides we had on our tour were wonderful people. It was fascinating listening and learning from their stories. If I had, had their names and contact information, I would have hired them privately and skipped the horrific experience with Sarah, the driver/owner.
I will not recommend this company to anyone for the following reasons.
It was important to me that the company be an owned and managed by Native Americans. Before the trip I asked Sarah over the phone if it was Tribally owned. She said it was; my misunderstanding was that I meant Tribal by blood, not Tribal by "being adopted" into a tribe. I fealt misled.
Once meeting Sarah I was struck by her in your face rudeness. Cutting me off, and then proceeding to rant on a subject, while I was trying to ask our guide a question. The constant defensive attitude of having to prove how much she knew about the different Tribes. Cutting down anything anyone else liked if she didn't agree....I could go on with examples. Suffice it to say, there was absolutley no professionalism in her manner.
It's disappointing, because I wanted to do more of these tours, but GoNative will never see my repeat business.

12  Thank UnhappyTraveler61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SarahG856, Owner at Go Native America Day Tours, responded to this reviewResponded December 19, 2012

This was a shocking review which caused us to pause and draw breath. We immediately knew it was not honest, but actually with time we have come to see it in a positive light because when we showed this to guides who have worked with us, and also to tour members who have travelled with us over our 18 years of fair trade tribal tourism, the overwhelming support we received, both for the company's purpose/professionalism and on a personal level, has been heart-warming, life-affirming, and has truly given us a new energy to move onward and upwards.

Our guides indeed do an amazing job, and they appreciate the work opportunities they get from us (amid 85% unemployment on some reservations) but they don't want to run tourism offices themselves. If they did, we would help them do it, and they all know it!

Most tour members would rightly expect the company owner of 18 years to have extensive knowledge to share with all tour members ...and this is the first and possibly the oddest complaint we have ever heard on that score! However there are companies around who offer a New Age or unreal version of Native America, and we do not, so unfortunately there are a small number of tour participants who get upset by our refusal to do so.
While the Internet offers such people anonymity and opportunity to vent with impunity, in the interests of fair play, please visit our website and our Facebook page which offer a considerably more balanced view of how the company works, how we contribute to families and communities through fair trade tribal tourism, and tour member's reactions to the opportunities we create for them. We offer unique itineraries delivered by indigenous folks who know their stuff, and however rude tour members are to us, we are not rude back.

So in a nutshell we'd like to thank "Unhappytraveler61" for her attack. Not for the vicious maligning of the company, but because of the unintentional gift she gave us; amazing support from elders, tribal guides, family on the reservation and returning tour members. And it's almost funny that actually she left her trip with hugs for the owner, saying "...you don't know how much my journey meant to me." Almost funny.

There is an old Native saying "It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand." So simply put we will continue to deliver what we promise, do what we say we're going to do (and much more besides), and we will continue to treat our all-indigenous guides and tour members with respect, even when a tiny percentage of tour members do not reciprocate.

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34 - 37 of 37 reviews

Reviewed October 13, 2012

I was duped by National Geographic recommending this particular tour company to experience the culture of native americans. We had long drives backtracking to overnight accommodation chosen for price and/or convenience to home for the tour operators rather than location and convenience for tour guests (strip mall areas completely cut off from mingling with locals or rustic locations without telephone access). Also the primary tour guide, while knowledgable about Cheyenne history and stories, is British/Romany and he and his wife (the tour organizer/driver) do not seem to be particularly accepted by the Northern Cheyenne. Because of this, our exposure to tribe members was minimal, no visiting of a school to bring donations or the like as I have done on cultural tours in other countries. I did not receive the $250 early discount because when I received my invoice two days before the trip and questioned it, the tour organizer said there had never been such a discount and instead offered to take $100 off the trip price. The trip was incredibly overpriced for the content and accommodations and I seriously wonder what criteria National Geographic uses to recommend tour companies.

11  Thank GingerOz22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SarahG856, Owner at Go Native America Day Tours, responded to this reviewResponded December 19, 2012

Unfortunately this tour member did not receive the early booking discount simply because she did not book early enough – records show January 2012, not by Oct 31, 2011 as the offer stated. The voucher she cites was taken from a newsletter and was for a different trip, yet we still offered to meet her halfway on the value… which she accepted.

We are proud of the TWO National Geographic Traveler Magazine designations we have earned, and this writer could have avoided feeling ‘duped’ simply by reading our comprehensive tour information prior to embarking on her tour. Those who do never make the kind of inaccurate assertions contained in this ‘review’. Unfortunately you can’t stay in hotel locations that don’t exist (see below), and if you want a single room on a highly-specialized small group tour experience you cannot get mass market pricing.

We have no clue by what criteria the writer of this piece might judge our company, or any company, to be sufficiently ‘accepted’ by a tribe – she never discussed our actual tribal affiliations or tribal relationships with us personally, just with other tour members at the back of the bus. Perhaps next year we’ll have all guides produce their birth certificates (hehe)
If “GingerOz22” expected us to personally know all 10,000 card-carrying tribal members, then she has a point – we don’t. And they don’t all know each other either. But for sure, we wouldn’t have such a high return rate on our tours if the vast majority of visitors couldn’t see the great relationships and ties we enjoy with local native people and communities; relationships which are embraced and treasured by all of us.

Maybe it is somewhat unrealistic to expect to mingle with tribal members in areas they no longer inhabit after forced removal from their tribal territories? The trip and add-on “GingerOz22” opted for included visits to places on traditional tribal homelands, and all have deep historical or cultural significance but none are on Reservations.
These included the Wild Mustangs, the Medicine Wheel, the Deer Medicine Rocks, and the Rosebud Battlefield, and Yellowstone National Park, and this journey also included a trip to a local powwow which for most participants should have been the highlight of the trip. Yet “GingerOz22” was one of a small group of women within the larger group who inexplicably voted to leave at 8.30pm - voluntarily missing the best parts of the powwow and an opportunity to mingle with Cheyenne locals (albeit in a rustic location with no phone service - the
reservation!)

Certainly if tribal hotels were available on that reservation we would want to use them as part of our clear fair trade mission to support tribal business where possible – a principle we have held for 18 years! Sheridan, Wyoming was the most convenient location to the reservation for this tour, with all the convenience services visitors would need. There is only one hotel within the town center (due to city ordinances) and hooting trains run down the line behind it all night long (due to no city ordinances) and for the comfort of our visitors we don’t use that establishment. We instead use the Candlewood on the edge of town, voted among tour members as one of the best hotels included on our journeys. It’s not in a strip mall – please check their excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.

The other hotel location was at the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park and “GingerOz22” may remember we switched hotels at the last minute – ditching the plan to stay in Cooke City at the North East entrance because of extreme smoke conditions from 2012’s dry summer of wildfires. This choice made solely for the comfort of tour members and actually was very costly to the company since we were within the cut-off cancellation period …but then all Yellowstone accommodations are pricey anyway. Either location would have been ‘rustic’, and have limited cell phone service – it’s Yellowstone! But had “GingerOz22” even asked us she would have found out that neither location was near to where guides reside (not that we can imagine why it matters to her where they live?)

It seems odd that anyone books their trip over the Labor Day weekend and expects school visits to be included – don’t we all know schools aren’t open on public holidays? We certainly had no indication “GingerOz22” wanted such a visit or we would have explained that perhaps interrupting tribal kids’ studies would be inappropriate to responsible tourism. If “GingerOz22” feels strongly about supporting tribal kids she could certainly respond to the information all our tour members are offered about a highly-reputable non-profit on the reservation which supports Cheyenne children living in very difficult circumstances.

Sadly, and despite ample opportunity, ‘GingerOz22’ did not voice any of her concerns at the time of her trip (something we respectfully request of all tour members, so that we can address and deal with any and all concerns IN SITU!) She has of course been contacted by the company to attempt to resolve any issues she may have. As yet we have had no response.

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Reviewed October 6, 2012

Booked my tour in October 2011 and was giddy with anticipation for almost a year. Venues and cultural learnings were great, but the poor organization of the tour made me rue the $3800 (not including airfare) I paid. Did not receive my final invoice until the day before departure, and it was inaccurate. Did not receive promised detailed itinerary package; I only knew where to meet the rest of the group because I happened to bump into one of the people at the airport. I received the $250 discount for booking early only because I deducted it myself when I gave my final payment by check upon arrival. We were told "this is not a 9-to-5 tour". Did not realize that meant driving several hours to arrive at hotel most nights after 10pm or 11pm; one night was 1am. We were not told we’d be without cell phone contact for 3 whole days and nights so we could give emergency contact info back home. After one of our cultural lectures outdoors in the evening, we were left to feel our way back to the van 50 yards in the dark (fortunately, one person had a penlight we could huddle around to avoid rocks and terrain changes). We were given an audience with a holy man (a member of the tour coordinator’s family) and we each had to ante up $20 as an offering. (shouldn’t that be included in our $3800??) I found out when I arrived that a 2-day beading workshop I had paid for was cancelled. “Didn’t you get my email?” the tour coordinator asked (this was a frequent response/excuse, along with a failing dual computer system). She did not offer to refund my $800, but eventually decided the holy man’s wife could teach me to bead. This woman is highly respected in the Cheyenne community, and I did feel honored to be invited to her home, taught individually, and treated so well. However, I had to buy my shirt and most of my beads, which I thought the $800 should have covered. And I doubt this dear, sweet woman received much of my $800 for the 3 hours I spent with her.
The 3 guides I’ve met are extremely knowledgeable; I would gladly sign up with them directly if I could control the planning of my own trip.

16  Thank LLP2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SarahG856, Owner at Go Native America Day Tours, responded to this reviewResponded October 13, 2012

We recommend all tour members read our website’s very comprehensive information on how we run tours and tour information packets prior to traveling with us. Every tour member is contacted personally by the tour coordinator prior to their journey by phone or email (usually both) and all tour members are encouraged to ask any and all questions they may have prior to booking, prior to departure and throughout their trip. Our trips are adventurous by nature although not highly physical. For the very few individuals who prefer schedules over flexibility to experience as much as possible, or for those who need specific mealtimes, or who may feel endangered by walking downhill in the moonlight, we are probably not the right company for you.

That said, this is an inaccurate reflection of the trip, which ‘LLP2012’ told us at the time she had enjoyed! And despite ample opportunity, ‘LLP2012’ did not voice these concerns at the time; which we request in our terms and conditions, and at each orientation meeting on the first day of all tours, so we can address and deal with concerns IN SITU!

In clarification, ‘LLP2012’s tour fee was for 3 separate tours.
‘LLP2012’ has of course been contacted by the company to attempt to resolve any ACTUAL issues she may have. As yet we have had no response. But this was her earlier response to our info/website…
“Kudos on all the new info/website/Facebook/webinar - you rock!” "Phenomenal newsletter...!!! All your hard work is paying off. I'm already looking forward to the next one."

FURTHER CLARIFICATIONS:
We suffered a complete catastrophic computer system failure this summer - fully explained to all members of this tour and emails held by the GNA office show “LLP2012s’ receipt of, and responses to this.

Our trips often include evening activities such as powwow, and we do return to hotels later at night! In this case, tour members also voted for a tour expansion including Devil’s Tower, Bear Butte and Crazy Horse’s birthplace at no extra cost, knowing the extra miles and time it would take. People for whom this was a once-in-a-lifetime journey said they were deeply appreciative efforts made on their behalf by Go Native America.

Go Native America is proud to trade fairly and are known for paying our all-indigenous guides well. But when we offer EXTRA experiences with community members or Native businesses, it is clear on our website and in our terms, that such experiences are voluntarily undertaken by tour members and these will be paid for by them at the time with 100% of this money going direct to the tribal representative/business concerned.
Go Native America takes NO percentage of this payment.

The beading workshop was indeed cancelled, and email notice sent. But ‘LLP2012’ did not confirm her flights prior to purchase with Go Native America (as we require), yet with no obligation on our part to do so, an alternative was arranged incorporating original activities plus a private beading session, this was accepted by ‘LLP2012’ and the price was vastly reduced since accommodations (more than half the cost) were included in her new alternative plan.
So the untrue accusation that her beading instructor was poorly paid is particularly uncalled-for, since ‘LLP2012’ knows it was she herself who took the benefit from the largest portion of her workshop tour fee. As a side note, simple fabric, hide and beads of traditional colors were available for use had 'LLP2012' preferred, but liking the suggestion of beading a shirt, she bought one to fit herself prior to the beading workshop, plus beads in 2 colors she felt meant something to her.

No tour member was (or is ever) without cell service for 72 hours (even within Yellowstone there is service at Canyon, Old Faithful, Mary Bay and other areas of YNP.) Tour members were told when they would be entering low/no service areas ahead of time (we have no reason to withhold that information). And additionally, hotel rooms had phones.

‘LLP2012’ is of course invited to contact us at any time to discuss and resolve her issues, although traveling solo & making own arrangements is probably her wisest idea: and is exactly what 'LLP2012' did the first time she traveled with us.

It is important to recognize that some folks are simply not suited to even the smallest of groups (ours groups are rarely more than 10 people), preferring control over every detail of their trip, including mealtimes. That is fine! Diversity is the spice of life and to be expected, but is also precisely why we recommend all tour members read our website’s very comprehensive information as per above.

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Reviewed September 28, 2011

Go Native America is included in National Geographic Traveler's 2007 & 2010 "50 Tours of a Lifetime".

I just came back from my first trip with Go Native America, a company that conducts several tours to various Native American Indian reservations throughout the year. Serle Chapman, head guide and co-owner of the company, was our guide. He had written several books about the culture and history of Native America and created the company after receiving numerous calls from people about visiting the places and people that he had written about.

Our two-week tour was spent visiting the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. As someone who has had next to no real knowledge about the Native American Indians I was intrigued and enchanted by this experience. Not only did we visit all the major sites - Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Montezuma Well, Montezuma Castle, Canyon de Chelly (and may more!) - we were able to "see" them through native eyes by learned and learning about the indigenuous culture, history, and spirituality in this region. This was such an interesting and rewarding way to tour Arizona

Coming from a demanding and fast paced job, this was certainly a welcome, and surprisingly delightful, retreat!

6  Thank CindyW18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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