Awards and recognition:
- TWICE included in National Geographic’s TOP 50 TOURS OF A LIFETIME (2008, 2010)
- Highly Commended for Preservation of Cultural Heritage from the international Responsible Travel Awards.
- Wanderlust, Top Six Tour guides worldwide
- Frommers Guides 2009
- Rough Guides 2009
- Discovery Travel Channel.
Our journeys offer outstanding experiences in Montana, Wyoming , South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, north into Canada and as far west as Alaska and Hawaii. We run everything from day tours to small group journeys and fully-guided custom odysseys (most popular are the small groups because people get the best value and most comprehensive experiences from these packages) and we couldn’t be prouder to say we have a 60% return rate! Tour members enjoy great accommodations (tribal whenever possible) eat well, relax well, interact with indigenous people, and adventure in great groups of like-minded and open-hearted individuals.
Our head guide is an award-winning author/photographer; well-qualified to lead you into Indian Country. Short-listed to one of the Top Six Tour Guides Worldwide by Wanderlust Magazine, he has received praise and credits ranging from the National Geographic Society to Nelson Mandela, and the London Times to the Native American Times. All guides are indigenous and are uniquely and thoroughly qualified to take you visiting their lands and people. Most are fluent in their tribal language, all have degrees in history, Native Studies or even curatorship, and each has skills and talents that elevate them way above the mainstream tour bus guides tourists rely on. We have master beadworkers, native flute players, world class Lakota silversmiths and artists and we even have a bull-riding champion/native history professor to guide you around the Little Bighorn.
Company owner and international coordinator Sarah Mathuin loves her job, and who wouldn’t? Turning tour members’ wish lists and dreams into actual life experiences across Native America is both a challenge and a pleasure. It certainly takes a special brand of expertise to excel in this unusual field, but because M15288 was in the vanguard of INITIATING tribal tourism on the Northern Plains (some have written that they 'pioneered' the movement) you’ll find that Sarah has your details covered! Whether you want to join a fully organized journey, or you need advice on hotels, vehicles, routes, and eateries along your own route with your excellent M15288 guide, you will get the best information garnered from Sarah’s many years on the road.
Warning: If you are looking for a 7am-4pm clockwork bus tour with guidebook style info, we aren’t it! We pride ourselves that we take visitors not tourists, and that we guide culturally as well as geographically. We are careful to see that our tour members are equipped to recognize and respect tribal etiquette when necessary and it is company policy that tour members do not participate in Native American ceremonies (bogus or otherwise).
Our aim is to make Fair Trade Tribal Tourism the standard on the Northern Plains. If you want to experience Indian Country, spend time with tribal people, learn about Native American history and culture in the best hands-on way possible, then choose M15288 for authenticity and matchless experiences here in the Heart of Native America.
1. How long has the business been operating and how did it start?
M15288 has been running journeys into Indian Country for 18 years, ever since people who read our books (we were in publishing before we did travel) asked us how they could recreate the journeys described in our books for themselves. We knew they couldn't, because traveling solo they would not get access to the people or places they wanted to visit, so we agreed to take one small group of folks into Native America - meeting native people and seeing the real sights and sounds of Northern Plains Indian Country without being tourists. Back then we really had no experience of tourism, yet the journey was huge success because we ran it like a bunch of new friends going on the road. The tour concept was written up in the Times of London, and this new travel company was born. We had never intended to run tours, but 18 years of experience (102 years if you combine the experience of all our regular guides) makes us a sure bet if you want to visit the real Indian Country.
2. What is your company's mission?
Our mission is to take visitors (not tourists) to the heart of Native America; to indigenous lands on journeys of discovery, fostering cross-cultural understanding. Native art, cultural exploration, historical interpretation and the indigenous connection to wildlife all come to life with great indigenous guides, and we support native owned-operated businesses on all journeys.
3. What does your company specialize in?
Our specialism is one-two week small group journeys where visitors get the best mix of cultural travel and interaction with Native guides. We also do awesome wildlife journeys where tour members don't just see the bear, or wolf, they learn of it's cultural and biological significance.
4. Who is the founder or owner of the company and briefly describe his/her past activities?
I’m Sarah Mathuin, owner, and I have been M15288’s international coordinator for 18 years. There is nothing formulaic or packaged about tours in Indian Country, not least because of ‘Indian Time’, a relaxed state of mind where things happen as they happen. So formal travel and tourism training is useless here! That means I have to work longer and harder to make sure our tour members do and see everything possible in their time with us. But the kind of on-the-job training I have ensures everyone’s journey feels like a personal trip (just with a group of new friends) and retains the flexibility & fun you have when you travel solo. Being raised in the Far East imbued in me a curiosity for cultures, my early career as a musician gave me a sense of adventure and an ability to make things work on the hoof, and 18 years of arranging people’s tribal journeys means I have the experience and detailed knowledge to turn travelers dreams into reality, and aspirations into actuality.
5. What is your most popular travel package and why?
Three tours tie in popularity: Lakota Dreamkeeper; Medicine Wheel; and Wisdom and Prophesy. People interested in native cultures have usually read/heard mostly of the Lakota Sioux and often want to visit the Black Hills and also Wounded Knee. The Medicine Wheel is such a universally held icon of tribal earth cultures that when people have the opportunity to truly understand the complexities of such a beautiful symbol in the context of amazing travel, they usually jump at the chance. Wisdom and Prophesy offers insight into alluring tribal perspectives on human existence and survival in such a beautiful way that people just can’t help but be drawn into and feel the need to understand more. Its a chance to follow the messages left by the Old Ones, to explore the unexplored, and to sate the natural fascination we all have with prophesy in its many cultural formats.
6. What is the best compliment you received from a client?
Our best compliments come in the form of return bookings. We have a 60% return rate which is phenomenally high in the tourism industry, but that is what tells us we get the balance of our tours just right. An example of this is… “Just a quick email to say I had such a brilliant time on the Go Native tour!! Everything you boasted the tour had, it definitely lived up to! All the guides were lovely and sophisticated, genuine and generous with their indigenous knowledge and the beautiful way they shared that with us made the tour memorable. Cindy (my new mate) told me about the tour next year, blue moon [Once In A Blue Moon Powwow] and such, sounds great....and I probably will find myself on that tour too no doubt as I'm now to become one of those repeat offenders like [fellow tour members] Pete or Tony"