Ways to Experience Authentic Native American Culture
A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau states that the Native American population sits at nearly 7 million, approximately 2% of the total U.S. population.
Native Americans, also known as Indigenous Peoples, have a long-standing and sacred affinity with the land. They have been here for several millennia, and some cities in the United States have recognized the importance of honoring Indigenous culture through museums, parks, pow-wows, and more.
Join us as we delve into the top U.S. cities where Native American culture is seen and celebrated, making them great places for cultural exploration.
Mashantucket is home to the Pequot Tribal Nation, one of the oldest reservations in America. It is also home to the largest Native American museum in the country.
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum preserves and shares the tribe’s history in a 308,000-square-foot building through collections, galleries, exhibitions, interactive events, and much more. The building was designed to interact with the surroundings while also preserving the natural integrity of the surrounding area.
Late summer is the time of the Schemitzun: Feast of Green Corn and Dance. This family-friendly event is held annually during the harvest season to give thanks to the Creator. The event offers a variety of genuine Native American-made goods, exhibitions of traditional and modern tribal dance, drumming, and live music.
The city of Phoenix is built on the ancestral land of the Akimel O’odham tribe and was previously home to the Hohokam people.
The city of Phoenix is packed with Native American Cultural tourism. One of Phoenix’s top cultural attractions and locations to learn about Native American arts and traditions is the Heard Museum. This museum offers guided tours, an outdoor sculpture garden, and eleven galleries with traditional and modern American Indian art. Arizona’s largest American Indian fair and market is held each March at the Heard Museum and features more than 700 Native American artisans.
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The Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, situated on a 1,500-year-old archaeological site, provides visitors with a glimpse into the past of the Hohokam community. This national historic landmark is the most significant archaeological site that has been conserved within the boundaries of Phoenix. The museum offers three galleries, including a hands-on area for kids and one that changes with exhibits on various subjects.
During Indigenous Peoples Month, volunteers from local nonprofits and community organizations join together to share Native American history and traditions through artwork, singing, and dance.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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The largest pow-wow in the nation, Gathering of Nations, is hosted in Albuquerque. The idea behind this celebratory event has always been to create a festive occasion where Native people may gather annually to share their culture.
The Gathering of Nations has become a travel destination for people worldwide, with over 785 tribes from the United States and Canada traveling to Albuquerque to participate. With an additional 70 thousand people attending the event on average, Gathering of Nations is a great event to celebrate Native American culture.
Most of Tulsa is located in Muscogee Nation, with parts located in the Osage Nation and Cherokee Nation. This city has no shortage of Native American cultural celebrations.
The Greater Tulsa Indian Art Festival honors the Indigenous culture with an exposition of exquisite art, cultural exhibits, traditional dancing, entertainment, storytelling, and much more. The festival features music from regional artists as well as breathtaking dance performances.
The art market offers a wide range of Native American artwork, both traditional and contemporary. Around 75 nationally recognized artists assemble to celebrate the festival.
In addition to exploring educational exhibits, you can also indulge in traditional American Indian cuisine at the festival.
Another fantastic event celebrating Native American culture is the Oklahoma Tribal Celebration at QuikTrip Great Lawn in Tulsa. This is one of the biggest and most extensive Native American celebrations in the area. Each participating Nation has the chance to share its story and speak of its cultural legacy in a space within the park during this grand celebration. The event also showcases live music, dance, art, food, and fashion. Visit the Gathering Place website to learn more.
Ready to Explore?
While the United States is home to many Native American tribes, some cities in the U.S. have taken it upon themselves to celebrate their local heritage and recognize the sacred Native American culture important to the Indigenous people who live there.
These cities are excellent places to start if you’re looking for an area rich in Native American cultural celebrations. Each city offers several historical sites, museums, and cultural events that honor the ancestral history and remember the struggle of the past. Explore TNAA job postings for opportunities in these cities and others.