Indigenous peoples are the poorest of the poor in Latin America, and tourism offers them a chance to make some badly needed money. Yet little is known about the circumstances that allow visitors’ dollars to assist indigenous communities most effectively, and those that can make tourists a destructive presence. A comparative analysis of tourism to two indigenous nations in Panama, the Kuna and the Emberá-Wounaan, effectively illuminates these issues, and allows for some conclusions regarding ethnic tourism that can be usefully applied more generally. While there are some unavoidable negative effects associated with tourism, indigenous communities can ameliorate some problems by formulating a clear plan and educating the members of their communities as to its contents. Where indigenous culture is stronger (i.e., less influenced by non-Indian society), tourism tends to cause its decay; where it is weaker, tourism can give incentives for its regeneration.