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The best way to increase your understanding of an area is to take an IATM approved study tour. Tours are given on a non for profit basis and conducted by professional Tour Managers for the purpose of enabling you to work in a area. The Tours are incredibly fun and educational. Each region plans and guides their own tours for the benefit of all members. You can get the most updated information on all the tours that are being offered by visiting the IATM London Office site.

But before you go check that out, please read about one of our previous tours and how much of an impact it made upon those Tour Managers lucky enough to go.


Conducted by Jo Curran

"Land of Enchantment"

The Southwest Indianlands study tour was a HUGE success. In addition to visiting all the places included in mainline tour operators' itineraries, we were honored to have lectures by recognized experts on most evenings. The major focus was undoubtedly the native peoples of the past and the present, but we also explored the scenic beauty of the Four Corners area - after all, New Mexico's slogan is "Land of Enchantment." The last two days focused on Hispanic culture and the ever-present art scene. The tour got off to a howling good start. In Albuquerque, storyteller Steve Pla was giving us a very enthusiastic rendering of one of the coyote stories when the door opened and the bartender from next door popped her head around the door to inquire after the welfare of the dog we had in the room with us! In Gallup, local historian Sally Noe gave us the colorful story of this dusty town on Route 66. Window Rock is the capital of the Navajo nation. While sitting in delegates' chairs in the Tribal Council chamber, we learnt about tribal history and government. This was followed by a tour through Don Lorenzo's home at Hubble Trading Post National Monument. Unchanged for 1000 years Bonnie Sekakaku is a young Hopi mother and entrepreneur who lives with one foot in the 21st century and the other in a religious/ ceremonial world that has hardly changed in 1000 years.

Her stories of how she juggled her life are unforgettable. Lorenz Holliday, a young man considering studying to be a medicine man, explained Navajo ceremonial to us at Monument Valley. At Chinle, we were visited by Daniel Staley who, besides running 4 x 4 tours through the Canyon de Chelly, occasionally demonstrates sandpainting and explains its ceremonial use - without revealing any information it would be inappropriate for us,as outsiders, to know. In Cortez, archeologist Doug Bowman prepped us for our visit to Mesa Verde, and Larry Baker, archeologist and director of Salmon Ruins gave us an introduction to Chaco Canyon - an almost unknown unit of the National Park System, often called the Stonehenge of America. Colleague and old friend, Don Dietz gave us an early morning walking tour of Santa Fe before handing us over to tour manager Peter Sinclaire to take is to San Ildefonso's feast day dances. Aspen Flowers, our guide at Taos Pueblo, cracked us up with her open and blatant appeal for tips. She was amazed at our amazement; "What? You can't say that?" And finally, at the farewell dinner at Albuquerque's Maria Teresa Restaurant, we were treated to ghost stories of former owners of the home by ghost hunter Buck, and one of the waiters and the manager! The accommodation ranged from funky El Rancho in Gallup - in the 40's, a favorite of movie stars whose photos line the balcony (I slept in the Errol Flynn room!) -to the Fechin Inn, a boutique hotel and the finest in Taos where my room should have cost $300 a night.

Taboo Subjects

We ate like kings, sampling the local cuisine of the Southwest in many interpretations - and even brought a (small) sack of beans home with us. We even thoroughly explored those taboo subjects of religion and politics as an integral part of understanding the Southwest. The only disappointment was the low participation - but I believe that those who came were the ones meant to be there. We came from all directions - Alaska, Washington, California, Ontario, New York, England and Italy. Our 12 day/11 night tour cost only $800, thanks to assistance from various Chambers of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureaus, especially Albuquerque VCB's Shamaine Giannini.

All the individuals and organizations who assisted in making the tour such a success received a beautiful Certificate of Recognition, designed by Chris Carrdus. Every participant received a diploma as an added benefit to the learning, the camaraderie and the out-and out fun we all enjoyed. Make sure you come along next time.

--Side note-- Forget the name "Anasazi"

"Anasazi" is the name given by the Navajos to a vanished high culture of the Southwest - it translates roughly as "enemy ancestors." The descendants of these people, today's Pueblo people, object to the Anasazi name as politically incorrect. So now we are to call them, "Ancestral Puebloans."


"What a trip! This extraordinary tour was full of in-depth information about the spiritual, physical, geological and human heritage of some of the most significant areas of New Mexico. The group … got along well together, cared for each other, and laughed a lot. I hope all study tours can be as productive and enjoyable." -Bob Sturdivant

"What (Jo) pulled out of the bag every day was amazing - such a pity so many missed a unique opportunity to discover the hidden gems of America's Southwest. We had once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as meeting a Hopi in her home and learning about her life between two cultures, being present at San Ildefonso Pueblo's feast day, and spending an evening with a professional storyteller - our eyes were opened." -Christine Atkinson, British Region

"This tour had many places I'd … always wished to have time to visit (and) wondrous speakers every night, contacts with travel operatives, the shared knowledge of our leader and, last but not least, the companionship of our fellow TMs." -Shirley Sturdivant

"I have come away from this study tour with experiences and stories that normally one only achieves through years of living in an area. Professionally planned with great efficiency, we did more than anybody thought possible, and all without ever feeling rushed." -Scott McGraw CTM

"I especially enjoyed learning directly from the native American tribal members; Acoma Pueblo, Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, San Ildefonso, Taos Pueblo and more. Oh, the dances at San Ildefonso, and our guide, Aspen Flowers, at Taos. I have a better appreciation of the rich mixture of the three cultures of the American Southwest." -Constancio Bolima (Tlingit)

"'Land of Enchantment'" is the appropriate attribute for this fascinating land. I am just looking forward to the next tour with Jo - Thank you for making this trip a memorable one and shearing with us your knowledge and friendship. Ciao!" -Renato Sassone-Corsi, British Region

"On Study Tours, one gets to see sights and meet local people one would not usually encounter while leading a tour or on holiday. We were unbelievably lucky to have Jo as our Tour Manager. We all felt our two weeks had been an enriching experience that we will never forget." -Heather Nochomovitz

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