Travelers of all ages and abilities can find awe inspiring places to visit across the United States. But one travel adventure that even history buffs forget about is exploring sites related to Native American Culture and heritage. There’s no better way to study American history than learning about the culture of those who originally inhabited America.
While it is possible to visit Indian reservations today, a trip to the average reservation is not the best way to learn about Native American Culture. If a visit to an Indian reservation or cultural center is on your vacation remember to respect these communities. Reservations aren’t tourist attractions; they’re communities where people live and work so please refrain from taking pictures of homes or children. It’s also important to remember that reservations are sovereign nations within the United States which means they have laws and governing bodies that may differ from the rest of the state or nation. Some require visitors to register at the Tribal Office.
Photo by Katie@!
Here are a few suggestions of more informative and entertaining ways to learn about Native American culture:
Attend a Pow-wow or Festival
Tribal and inter-tribal gatherings happen all over the United States. throughout the year. Pow-wows are typically focused on dance competitions, drumming and singing. Festivals like the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival can include Powwow-style activities plus any number of cultural and family events and markets that highlight traditional arts and crafts. Most gatherings, or at least portions of them, are open to the public. Yearly dates may change for annual gatherings, but you can stay updated with at PowWows.com.
Visit a National Park
National parks are a rich source of American history and that includes Native American history. The Mesa Verde National Park has more than 5,000 preserved archaeological sites of the Puebloan people, many of which can be visited by joining a ranger-guided tour. Badlands National Park was once the home of the Oglala Sioux people and is the site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. The park supports the Red Cloud Indian School’s Heritage Center as well as the White River Visitor Center. National parks have always been a popular destination for family vacations and many of them are home to museums and cultural centers that preserve the Native American culture, heritage and history.
Photo of Serpent Mound, Ohio by Roy.luck
Explore an Archeological Site
Some of the most interesting places to learn about Native American culture and heritage are archeological sites like the earthwork sites in Ohio. The Serpent Mound in Peebles, OH is one of the most famous of these ancient sites. Serpent mound features three conical burial mounds and like other structures in the area known as “earthworks”, the origins of Serpent Mound are still somewhat of a mystery.
A family could spend every summer vacation of their lives visiting Native American historical sites – and what memorable vacations those would be! Start by visiting sites within your own state; it’s a great opportunity to learn more about your immediate environment and your own family’s heritage while learning about the earliest inhabitants of our nation.
A guest post by Jessica Stark (