Places to visit to learn about Native American culture

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Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site | North Dakota

Tourism in North Dakota

Knife River Village was last occupied in 1845 by the Hidatsa and Mandan, and the National Historic Site is home to a beautiful, state-of-the-art museum and interpretive center dedicated to preserving their culture. Today, you can explore the museum on site, which is full of Mandan artifacts and artwork created by Plains artists, then take a walking tour of the remains of the village.

Kids will love it: The historic site also offers a junior ranger program, where children can explore historical aspects of the village site and earn badges when they complete the program.

On line: nps.gov

Related: 13 Children’s Books That Celebrate Native American Cultures and Authors

Pueblo Indian Cultural Center | New Mexico

Native American performers in traditional dance attire.

Visit the QBA

Native Americans have inhabited the area now known as New Mexico for thousands of years, and their presence is felt throughout the state. This culture is reflected in nearly every aspect of life in Albuquerque, from the city’s art and architecture to its festivals and culinary traditions. This influence extends to the present day among the 23 Native American pueblos, tribes, and nations of New Mexico, ensuring that this way of life lives on.

Kids will love: Children can meet artists selling handicrafts, attend performances and dance lessons, and savor unique contemporary Native dishes at the on-site full-service Indian Pueblo Kitchen restaurant.

On line: indianpueblo.org

Heard Museum | Arizona

Colorful Native American crafts laid out on a table.

Visiting Phoenix/Fernando Hernández

With an extensive collection of art, history, artifacts, clothing tools, and more from the Indigenous peoples of the Southwest, the Heart Museum presents an exhibit titled Far From Home: Stories from American Indian Residential Schools recounting the important and often unknown period of American history in the 1870s when American Indians were forced to assimilate into government-run boarding schools. The new exhibition entitled substance of the stars combines digital technology with contemporary art from the Haudenosaunee, Yup’ik, Diné and Akimel O’otham tribes.

Kids will love it: The interactive galleries provide interactive entertainment and many cultural learning opportunities for children. Heard annually hosts the World Hoop Dance Championships scheduled for February 18-19, 2023.

On line: heard.org/internat

Related: 14 Indigenous Heroes Every Child Should Know

powwow | South Dakota

Native American children dressed in traditional clothing for a powwow.

South Dakota travel

South Dakota is home to famous sites such as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the historic town of Deadwood in the Old West, as well as extensive outdoor adventures and Native American heritage. The State’s Tribal Nations Visitor’s Guide includes a map of tribal lands, a brief history of each tribe, etiquette suggestions for visitors, and destinations that provide opportunities to learn more about each tribe.

Kids will love: Powwows are one of the best ways to see Native American culture up close. Children can learn cultural etiquette and how to participate in supporting Native American tribes.

On line: travelsouthdakota.com

Carpinteria State Beach | California

Mother and two children sitting in a boat in a park

(c) California State Parks, Brian Baer

Carpinteria State Beach is on the ancestral land of the Chumash people in an area they called Misshopshnow, meaning “correspondence”, as it was a center of commerce. Spanish explorers called it Carpinteria because it was where the Chumash made their tomol canoes sealed with tar and pitch. Today, you can still find tar seeping from the rocks in the park. The Chumash Painted Cave can be visited along the way, which is a small painted rock on the side of a two-lane rural mountain road near Santa Barbara, with an interpretive sign for the archaeological site.

Kids will love it: Junior Ranger Programs, Self-Guided Exploration Packs, Visitor Center Exhibits, and the Tomol Interpretive Game along the accessible interpretive trail that connects Linden Avenue and the park entrance.

On line: parks.ca.gov

Denver Art Museum | Colorado

Indigenous art exhibition in a museum

From the Gallery of Native Arts of North America by James Florio

Beginning around 1925, the Denver Art Museum was among the first American museums to recognize the beauty and value of Native arts and to establish a collection. Today, it houses more than 18,000 objects by artists from more than 250 Indigenous nations. The collection includes antique ceramics, beaded garments, and carved masks, as well as contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more from artists across North America.

Kids will love: Family Central, an immersive experience with costumes, wooden blocks and more to create. Children can contribute to an art project about Denver in the Native Arts Artist-in-Residence Studio.

On line: denverartmuseum.org

This is the Place Heritage Park | Utah

Large white and brown teepee under a blue sky with white clouds.

Tresha Kramer

The Native American Village pays homage to the Native tribes of Utah through interactive cultural displays. Natives dressed in traditional regalia tell the story of their homes, their way of life, and their contributions to Utah’s heritage. The quiet rhythm of a drum and native songs tell the story of the elders. See the largest tipi in America as well as an authentic Navajo Hogan and learn the history of the medicine wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop.

Kids will love: There are crafts in the village and children discover drawings and symbols called petroglyphs that the ancients carved into the rocks. There are rock type features to climb over and a stream to float wooden boats.

On line: thisistheplace.org

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