The literature on cultural tourism in East Africa suggests that tourism practices reflect global political, social and economic trends among countries and people. There is much debate among scholars who have chosen to study these links between cultural tourism and larger global trends about who maintains power in tourist-host relationships. Scholars who argue that cultural tourism is a mutually beneficial practice for tourists and hosts claim that it promotes cultural understanding and equality, helps indigenous people maintain their cultures and allows indigenous people to gain economic power. In contrast, many scholars argue that cultural tourism is extremely detrimental to indigenous groups as it is an extension of colonial power relationships that reinforces stereotypes, degrades culture, and economically exploits indigenous people. This paper draws on two ethnic groups that use different approaches to participate in cultural tourism in East Africa, the Maasai in Kenya and the Hadza in Tanzania, in order to explore several aspects of this debate. Analysis of the Maasai and the Hadza in East Africa will provide insight to whether cultural tourism is a useful tool to culturally and economically support indigenous people or simply an extension of colonial power dynamics that economically exploits and socially and culturally degrades indigenous people.