About our host city
The city selected for the 2023 NAI National Conference was built on land formerly occupied by Quapaw natives, and perhaps earlier Plum Bayou natives. European trappers, traders, and settlers traveled up a large river (later to be known as the Arkansas River) looking for resources and trading partnerships with the Quapaw and other groups occupying the river’s valley. Travelers used “French Rock” (also known as La Grande Roche) on the north bank and La Petite Roche on the south bank as landmarks.
The capital of Arkansas, Little Rock, was founded in 1831 on the south bank and is now home to over 200,000 residents. Visitors to this city are often surprised at the bustling downtown area located along the banks of the Arkansas River. Modern walking paths, sculpture gardens, six pedestrian bridges crossing the river, and a host of natural, history, and cultural museums provide a feeling of inclusion and welcome.
The city’s past, however, was not always so inclusive. In 1838-39 Native Peoples were forcibly moved from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee to Oklahoma. One of the routes used during the Trail of Tears took many through the Little Rock area. Signs along the river commemorate the event.
In 1957, Little Rock Central High School was the epicenter of confrontation and a catalyst for change as the fundamental test for the United States to enforce African American civil rights following Brown v. Board of Education. The sacrifice and struggle endured by the Little Rock Nine have provided opportunities and opened doors for those seeking equality and education around the world. Although the school remains in operation, it is also a National Historic Site interpreted by the US NPS.
Little Rock’s many bridges connect more than just the north and south sides of the river. They make a connection with history, culture, and the people who visit. The NAI 2023 National Conference committee invites you to visit this “city of bridges” and to connect your interpreter’s spirit to all we have to offer. Interpretation Builds Bridges for all of us.
NAI Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement
NAI is committed to having a supplier base that reflects our diverse member base. We will do this by identifying and working with diverse vendors, contractors, and consultants. NAI is careful and strategic in selecting venues where it holds national and regional meetings. Whenever possible, NAI will not support businesses where discrimination in any form is codified. Read more here.