Native American Heritage Month: 13 Places to Experience the Richness of Indigenous Cultures

The red sandstone spire of Spider Rock at Canyon de Chelly National Monument in the Navajo Nation near Chinle, Arizona

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November is Native American Heritage Month, an ideal time to honor the indigenous cultures that have long shaped the lands we inhabit. Exploring Native American Heritage Sites or embarking on guided tours of tribal lands provides a meaningful opportunity to connect with and acknowledge the profound legacy of those who inhabited these lands before us.

Immersing oneself in these experiences, whether gathered around a campfire listening to ancestral legends or traversing the desert on a jeep ride, offers a more intimate understanding of traditions and histories not commonly found in textbooks. Venturing away from the crowds and into the vast landscapes reminiscent of old cowboy movies and vintage photographs will deepen your appreciation for the rich tapestry of indigenous heritage.

Native American Heritage Month

Native American Dancer with a colorful leather outfit
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

National Native American Heritage Month is an annual celebration recognized by the Department of the Interior. During this time, we honor the traditions, languages, and narratives of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities. It’s an occasion to ensure the perpetuation of their rich histories and invaluable contributions for future generations. What better way to pay tribute to those that came before but to visit one of these historic and meaningful sites.

Grand Canyon West

Guano Point at Grand Canyon West
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

The Hualapai Tribe is the closest tribe to Las Vegas, so they’re not opening up a gambling center anytime soon. But proximity can be a curse or a blessing. They’re close enough to Las Vegas that you can leave the strip on a helicopter and each lunch on a remote butte in Grand Cayon West.

Grand Canyon West offers exceptional panoramic views of the canyon’s west rim with many ways to enjoy the scenery, like the famous glass Grand Canyon Skywalk and zipline adventures. You can even take a one or two-day raft trip down the canyon here instead of spending 17 days rafting through the National Park.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Havasu Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the Grand Canyon, if not the entire world, but you can’t have this adventure in the National Park. Havasu Falls is in the Havasupai Nation.

You need to apply for a permit from the tribe in a highly competitive lottery system. You get four days / three nights in the canyon if you’re a lucky winner. It’s a remarkable trip, including passing through Supai Village, a town of roughly 200 people in the Grand Canyon with no roads leading in or out. It’s the only place in America where mules still carry mail in and out.

Totem Bight State Historic Park

Totem Bight State Historic Park
Photo Credit: Roger W. via Flickr.

The U.S. Forest Service began a program in Alaska to salvage and reconstruct cedar totems in 1938. They hired skilled carvers from among the older Natives who taught young artisans the art of carving totem poles. The totems left to rot in the woods were either repaired or duplicated, and today, 14 totems remain to tell the stories of the people who came before us.

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Blackfeet Culture Camp and Lodgepole Gallery

Blackfeet Culture Camp and Lodgepole Gallery
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Blackfeet Culture Camp and Lodgepole Gallery are located in the Rocky Mountains’ breathtaking foothills at Glacier National Park’s base. Blackfoot Indian history and Native American culture come alive on the Blackfeet history tour. It’s a journey back to buffalo jump sites, tipi rings, pow-wows, and the Museum of the Plains Indian. You can even ride horses on the paths of Blackfeet warriors and fish from streams flowing out of Glacier National Park.

White River Visitor Center

Dried and parched ground of Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The White River Visitor Center in the South Unit of Badlands National Park is your gateway to explore the park’s cultural significance. Learn about Lakota heritage from language and interactive exhibits before picking up a map and getting your park passport stamped.

Cherokee

Smoky Mountains National Park
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Cherokee is a culture, a people, and a place that’s a sovereign nation in Western North Carolina over the ridgeline from Great Smokey National Park. The area has many attractions like the Museum of the Cherokee Indians, a fun way to experience the history of the Cherokee people, the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a historical reenactment of an 18th century in the Oconaluftee Indian Village, and the “Unto These Hills” Outdoor Drama. Cherokee is a base camp for outdoor adventure, including hiking, fishing, and mountain biking on the acclaimed Fire Mountain Trails.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Entrance of the Monument Valley, Utah, USA
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Monument Valley is on Navajo land in the northeastern corner of Arizona. You can see the panorama of the Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte from the visitor center, but you’ll want to take the 17-mile loop road through sandstone towers that climb 400 to 1,000 feet above the desert floor. Just outside of the visitor center, you’ll find numerous Navajo vendors selling arts, crafts, native food, and souvenirs at roadside stands.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon photography tour
Photo Credit: Ed Coleman.

Antelope Canyon is the crown jewel of the Navajo Nation. It’s a slot canyon famous for the sun rays that shine on the canyon floor during the summer. Carved by water of millenniums, you can still feel these powerful forces of nature living in the rock walls. Photographer Peter Lik’s photograph of the sun rays in Antelope Canyon, Phantom, sold for 6.5 million dollars, but you can have that million-dollar view by booking a tour with the tribe.

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Taos Pueblo

Ancient City of Taos, New Mexico USA.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Taos Pueblo is a pre-Columbian pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It was built between 1000 and 1450 CE and is one mile north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico. The pueblo was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1992.

Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Parks, Colorado, USA
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Montezuma County, Colorado, that protects some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the United States. It’s the nation’s largest archaeological preserve, with over 5,000 sites and 600 cliff dwellings.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument during Sunset, Arizona
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

People have lived in Canyon de Chelly for nearly 5,000 years, making it the longest continuously inhabited place on the Colorado Plateau. Today, Dine’ families still make their homes, raise livestock, and farm the lands in the canyons. Visitors can hike with park rangers, take a jeep tour through the valley with a Navajo guide, or enjoy the views from the park’s many scenic overlooks.

Wind River Scenic Byway

Hike in Wind River Range in Wyoming, USA. Autumn season.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway begins in Shoshoni, Wyoming, and follows U.S. 20 north through Wind River Canyon and the Wind River Indian Reservation to just south of Thermopolis. The 2,500-foot-deep canyon is a geologic masterpiece, with the oldest rock layers dating back over 2.5 billion years ago. Highlights include Boysen State Park, Owl Creek Mountains, the “Wedding of the Waters’ and the Bighorn River, and tours from the Wind River Tribe.

Miccosukee Indian Village & Airboat Rides

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 13, 2015 : Entry to the Miccosukee Indian Village. The Miccosukee Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe residing in the Florida Everglades west of Miami.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Located 40 miles due west of Miami in the heart of the Everglades, Miccosukee is the perfect way to glide the glades on a river of grass while learning about indigenous culture. You’ll get glimpses into traditional Miccosukee life and discover a typical hammock-style camp the same family has owned for over 100 years!

Conclusion

Native American Indian
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Visiting Native American Heritage Sites offers us a valuable opportunity to pay tribute to the original inhabitants of this land and appreciate the profound cultural heritage they have entrusted to us. It’s more than just a chance to contrast with the conventional narratives; it’s an invitation to immerse ourselves in indigenous communities’ rich history and traditions.

We hope that, moving forward, we will continue to recognize and respect the legacy of those who acted as the land’s stewards for generations, extending our reverence for indigenous cultures beyond this designated day of acknowledgment.

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Las Vegas Nv
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