Learn about authentic Native American culture and history


BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) – From Sitting Bull to Sakakawea, North Dakota is rich in Native American history and with approximately 30,000 enrolled tribal members sharing geography with North Dakota, there are many opportunities to explore and discover Native American culture.

For an authentic experience of Native American culture, you can attend an upcoming powwow, as well as visit one of the many Native American museums and cultural centers in the state.

Here are some of the best ways to experience Native American culture in North Dakota, according to the North Dakota Division of Tourism:

Attend a powwow

The Algonquin word “pau wau” was the Native American word that some early Europeans associated with dancing. The word originally meant “medicine man”, but was accepted by Europeans to refer to dancing and gatherings, later spelled “pow-wow”.

Visitors to today’s powwows will experience a multi-day festival centered around performances of traditional song and dance, traditional food, and arts and crafts vendors. A list of powwows held by the various tribal nations can be found here.

Visit historic sites and museums

The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck offers an interactive and informative look at Native American history and culture. A notable exhibit is the Native American Hall of Honors, a gallery of prominent Native Americans of North Dakota, and a diorama of Double Ditch Indian Village.

You can then head north out of town to see the remnants of the Double Ditch Indian Village located on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, along with several other Native American villages.

Other historic villages that offer an authentic glimpse into Native American life include Chief Looking’s Village, Huff Indian Village, and Sitting Bull Visitor Center.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site was home to Sakakawea before she joined Lewis and Clark.

Learn about the five tribal nations

Five sovereign First Nations share geography with North Dakota and have deep ties to the plains.

North Dakota’s first community, Pembina, was built by the Chippewa, descendants of the Chippewas and French Canadians, all of whom are part of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center preserves the culture of the area, and the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway offers a route through the beautiful landscape.

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation operates the 4 Bears Casino and Lodge, as well as a recently opened MHA Interpretive Center that houses a collection of artifacts and art, as well as mud lodges and teepees.

The entire Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway is within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribeis the earth. Walk all or part of the 350-mile route.

The Spirit Lake Nation includes several different nations of Lakota/Dakota people, many of whom live on the south shore of Devils Lake near Fort Totten. The Fort Totten State Historic Site offers visitors a glimpse into the history of the area and the tribe.

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe is centered around the Lake Traverse Tribal Lands that stretch across the border to South Dakota. The tribe operates the Dakota Winds Golf Course and the Dakota Magic Casino, both located on the North Dakota side of tribal land.


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